Oscar noms are wearing eco-fashion on the red carpet, children are policing single-use plastics, and cattle farmers have switched to one vegan meal a day. This is the work of Suzy Amis Cameron, an ardent environmentalist and first-time author of the book OMD: The Simple, Plant-Based Program to Save Your Health, Save Your Waistline, and Save the Planet.
Beginning the Path
Suzy’s path began in Oklahoma’s Arbuckle Mountains. She reflects joyfully of her family’s farm, “I can remember harvesting potatoes and eating peaches off the trees!” The actress and model’s career took her to New York City and Los Angeles, where she was captured by cameras and lit up screens. The natural beauty recalls the ease and accessibility of eating organic in major metropolitan areas, but admits it didn’t pull full focus until entering motherhood. “It hit home when I had my first child, and really started thinking about everything that was not only going into his sweet little body, but everything that surrounded him. I was looking at everything, laundry detergent, cleaners, everything.”
Hundreds of reusable diapers, and several years later Suzy was on the set of Titanic. She spoke at length about environmental issues with the film’s director, James Cameron. She recalls, “One of the first things that we did when we realized that we were going to spend the rest of our liiiives together was, buy a ranch and put in solar.” The duo each brought a child to the relationship, and then had three together. Suzy Cameron recalls watching the eldest struggle in various school systems and thought, “My God, I can’t live through the tears and the tummy aches, and all of that again.”
Creating the Ideal School
She and her sister Rebecca Amis spoke of what an ideal school system would look like, and they came to “Inspiring and Preparing Young People to Live Consciously with Themselves, One Another, and the Planet.” A few months later a private school down the road closed. “Muse magic,” they giggled, a term they would come to utter often when the universe aligned for them and the greater good of the planet. Together, Suzy, Rebecca, and a group of like-mindeds opened the nonprofit Muse School in Calabasas.
“We started with 11 kids in this one room school house, and now we have 225 on two campuses.” The school is run on solar power, and boasts more than 150 raised bed gardens. “If you brought a single use cup onto the grounds, a kid is probably going to walk up to you and say, ‘That doesn’t belong here.’” For nearly 13 years the cafeteria served some of the cleanest, high-quality foods on the planet, including grass-fed beef and organic chicken. “I thought I was feeding everyone at Muse so beautifully….but what really kind of gutted me more than anything was when Jim and I watched Forks Over Knives. It blew our mind, it was such a… [she sighs]. We felt gut punched, we felt blindsided, we felt like we had been lied to our whole lives about what was healthy for our bodies, and what we got advertised to.”
Connecting the Dots of Environmental Issues
Suzy attended monthly meetings of a large NGO whose board she sat on. She learned, and lectured groups about deforestation, biodiversity laws, ocean certifications, melting glaciers, rising sea levels, and more. One day she doodled a flower. On each petal was a severe environmental issue and in the middle, the center that joined them all was animal agriculture; the raising of animals purely for consumption. Appalled Suzy says, “You can connect the dots with every environmental issue we have out there back to animal agriculture and how devastating it is. It’s the second largest cause of greenhouse gases and climate change in front of all transformation combined, every car, every bus, every airplane, everything. Well, the first whammy was watching Forks Over Knives and the second whammy was learning about the devastations of animal agriculture on our environment.”
The Camerons, who have become known in the worlds of art, entertainment, philanthropy, and community as change-makers and consciousness-shifters, researched animal agriculture and its effects on climate change. Suzy reflects, “I would have this pit in my stomach every single morning, knowing that, yes, I have the ability to go and start an environmental school, yes I have the ability to start an eco-dress design contest, but I knew deep down inside no matter how hard I worked or how hard I tried, I wasn’t even scratching the surface. Yet, I would wake up every morning thinking, ‘What else can I do?’ ”
Making Positive Choices
The couple had cut meat from their diet, and a few months later were reflecting on their choices. She says, “Jim doesn’t use the word hope, he’s a real doomsday kind of guy. If you look at his movies, you know Terminator, Avatar, Titanic, The Abyss, he doesn’t use the word. He even has a T-shirt that says, ‘Hope is not a strategy.’
We were walking on the beach and we had already been plant-based for about two months and he said, ‘You know, for the first time in my life I actually had hope.’ I almost fell in the surf! I was like, ‘Whoa, what’s going on?’ It was that moment that I thought, this is it, this is that silver bullet. This is the thing that is good for your health, it’s good for the animals, it’s good for your waistline, it’s great for your sex life [she laughs], you know all of these things.”
One Meal A Day
Suzy brought the idea to the Muse School, where they began to offer plant-based meals. The team joked instead of “OMG” it’s “OMD” One-Meal-Day sans meat / animal agriculture. Now, she’s bringing it to the world via her book, O.M.D. released on October 23 by Simon & Schuster.
Suzy exclaims, “One person changing one of their meals, one time a day for a year saves almost 200,000 gallons of water, the equivalent in carbon of driving from Los Angeles to New York. So you can absolutely make a difference. I have found my mission in life! Because I know the more people I can inspire to be plant-based or even just eat one plant-based meal a day, the more it will help move the needle on climate change. It will help make the world a better place for our children. You know the first nation’s people say that what we do today impacts the next seven generations and I believe that.”
For more information about O.M.D. visit: omdfortheplanet.com.
For more information about Muse School, visit: museschool.org.