Interview with Suzy Amis Cameron on Going Meat-LESS
I am proud to partner with Suzy Amis Cameron on this month’s Everyday Eco-Habit of Going Meat-LESS and interview her here. I had the privilege of getting to know Suzy a few years back from our mutual work in environmental education at Grades of Green (for me) and the MUSE School CA (for her). MUSE feeds their students lunch with 100% plant-based food grown in a garden right on campus- all I could think about as she toured me around the school was "if only I could go back in time and go to school again!” In addition to founding MUSE, writing her OMD: Swap One Meal A Day to Get Healthy, Live Longer, and Save the Planet book on the benefits of eating plant based, she also founded Red Carpet Green Dress, a global initiative showcasing sustainable fashion on the Oscar’s red carpet. Suzy and her husband James are the dynamic duo of the eco world. Suzy was and is a source of inspiration for me and I hope she will be for you as well.
What inspired you to write OMD?
Suzy Amis Cameron: The seed of inspiration started at MUSE, the school that I founded with my sister Rebecca Amis 13 years ago. We wanted to provide children with rigorous educational experiences that nurtured their passions and celebrated them as individuals on a sustainable campus. When Rebecca and I realized how devastating animal agriculture was on the environment, we knew we had to shift to a plant-based lunch program for the kids. We brought doctors, athletes, climate scientists, chefs, and authors to MUSE to educate our families about the benefits of eating green before we went 100% plant-based at the school in Fall 2015. Still—we lost 50% of our families! I get it. That shift was a challenge with so much pressure to be like everyone else. Parents were pushing back and finally our head of school said, “People, it’s only one meal a day...It’s OMD!” That experience gave me the idea to gather the science and information I had learned about how we can move the dial on climate change by eating one plant-based meal a day—plus some delicious recipes—into a book. (And, ps, we’ve since regained and surpassed our enrollment, and people move from all over the U.S. and Europe to join the school’s strong environmental core.)
Can you tell us a little bit about your decision to go Meat-LESS?
Suzy: I watched “Forks over Knives,” a groundbreaking documentary that shares what a meat- and dairy-heavy diet does to our health, in early May 2012. It was such a wake-up call to me, I talked my husband, Jim, into watching it the next day. He turned to me and said, “We shouldn’t have any more animal products in the house,” and 24 hours later, we had cleaned out our kitchen. Both of us have heart disease and cancer in our families—so we took it very seriously. We not only decided to Meat-LESS...we decided to go MEATLESS and Dairyless! I know only a small percentage of people blow up their kitchens one day and go cold turkey, but that’s how we roll. OMD is the perfect way to ease in. You can keep your eggs and bacon and burger, start with one meal, and feel so great; you have so much more energy.
My personal message is about making the world a better place for our children to grow up for generations to come. Especially on the tails of the National Climate Assessment, issued by 13 federal agencies, coupled with the UN’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change report, we have to make a stand to do what we can. We have no more time. But what can one person do? Change your eating habits. It will make a significant impact and move the dial on climate change.
Eating plant-based cuts your carbon and water “foodprint” in half. Eating just one plant-based meal a day for a year, you’ll save almost 200,000 gallons of water (about 11,400 showers) and the pollution equivalent to about 3,000 miles driven in your car (roughly Los Angeles to New York City).
Eating green and Meat-LESS is a win-win-win—for your health, the planet, and animals (plus your waistline and your sex life!)
What tips do you have for everyday people to go Meat-LESS?
Suzy: An easy way for folks to start eating green is with small dietary shifts, such as eating vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts and legumes, instead of carbon-intensive foods like beef and lamb, and dairy products. These changes can lower your dietary climate burden right away. Try almond, soy or oat milk instead of cow's milk on your breakfast cereal, or eat a bean and roasted veggie burrito instead of beef burrito. There’s an endless variety of comfort food you can have—lasagna, cheesy pizza, burgers, burritos. By changing our food choices, we begin to gain power in influencing the marketplace and the food system. Check out all of the easy recipes and tips on how to start your Meat-LESS journey in my book OMD: The Simple, Plant-Based Program to Save Your Health, Save Your Waistline, and Save the Planet!