Health News

A Brave New (Plant-Based) World

Environmental advocate Suzy Amis Cameron is on a mission to help you save the planet—and your health—one plant-based meal at a time

Suzy Amis Cameron, 58, spent years in environmental circles learning about the negative effects of animal agriculture on the planet and human health. “But it never really seemed there were any solutions,” she says. Then one day, a conversation with her husband, Oscar-winning Titanic director James Cameron, helped her see a multipurpose solution was as close as everyone’s fork-holding fingertips.

“Everybody eats every day. And you can actually help to move the needle—not only on climate change but your health as well,” says Amis
Cameron, who went vegan in 2012.

Amis Cameron serves up her health-promoting, environmentally friendly approach in her book The OMD Plan: Swap One Meal a Day to Save Your Health and Save the Planet. “You don’t have to be perfect,” she says. “And it’s not judgmental.” And it means anything but starving yourself, she adds. “The beauty of being plant-based is you can eat more food. I eat probably twice as much as I used to. It’s pretty amazing.”

BN: What are some good OMD starter recipes?

SAC: My children and husband love plant-based meats. I don’t eat them a lot because I find them to be a little too real. But I think they’re fantastic for transitioning. I use the Beyond Beef Crumbles in my chili recipe, which everyone loves. I often serve it to carnivorous people (who) actually don’t believe that it’s not ground beef. And who doesn’t love a plate of pasta with yummy marinara or puttanesca tomato sauce? I went on a miso kick after I wrote the book. I have it almost every night for dinner. On Sundays, I chop up different vegetables and put them in glass containers. So I just reach in there and grab whatever veggies I have and throw them into my miso. Ten minutes later, I’ve got a delicious soup.

BN: Any other tricks for making the switch from meat to plant-based protein?

SAC: One of the things that’s engaged my family and children more than anything is having interactive food. I do it with dinner parties as well, and everybody loves it. We had one recently with Asian food where we made our own spring rolls. The recipe’s in the book, and it’s by my brother Charlie. When you give people the license to eat with their fingers, everybody has some. We also do taco bar night, which is really fun. We do the Beyond Meat crumbles, we do the Gardein chicken strips. We do the plant-based cheeses, the guacamole. We do pizzas and sushi too.

BN: Any tips for stocking your pantry?

SAC: The staples to have in your pantry (or fridge) are whatever plant-based milks you like, dried and canned beans, lentils, fava beans, chickpeas, crushed tomatoes, hummus, and different grains, rice, and pastas. Just basics you can grab and put into things. We use a lot of nutritional yeast, which we call nooch, and spices. We love spicy things in our family, so we have a whole collection of hot sauces. We always have potatoes, sweet potatoes, and different kinds of squashes. We eat seasonally and grow a lot of our own produce. Even people who have apartments can do container growing.

BN: Which sources of omega-3s should be in the OMD kitchen?

SAC: If you’re supplementing, I think algae is the best source. But walnuts are amazing. And hemp seeds—hemp hearts have the perfect ratio of omega-3, -6, and -9. Put hemp hearts in smoothies, sprinkle them over a salad, put them in a soup. They have a beautiful, kind of nutty flavor.

BN: Why do you call nuts your “secret OMD weapon”?

SAC: When you first go plant-based, your body’s so used to heavy foods. Meats and cheeses are gut bombs. To transition, nuts are sort of stick-to-your-ribs (foods). We ate a lot of nuts when we first went plant-based, and I hardly eat them anymore. Sunflower butter was my go-to. I would eat spoonfuls of it. My sister has a recipe in the book called Ree Ree’s Cheese Spread. You use chopped cashews. It’s super dense, super delicious, and really satisfying.

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“One person changing one of their meals a day to a plant-based meal for one year saves close to 200,000 gallons of water and the carbon equivalent of driving from Los Angeles to New York,” says Suzy Amis Cameron, author of the newly released The OMD Plan.