Director James Cameron, who switched to a vegan diet in 2011, has opened the first vegan school in the United States.
Cameron and his wife, Suzy, grow about 90 percent of their own food on a 100-acre biodynamic farm in California, and founded the Muse School in Malibu in 2006, which is the first vegan elementary school in the United States, Examiner reported.
In the fall of 2015, the Muse School switched to a 100% vegan menu. The Camerons both credit the documentary Forks Over Knives for their vegan conversion, citing health and environmental reasons.
In 2012, Cameron admonished meat-eating environmentalists to switch to a plant-based diet if they’re serious about saving the planet, saying you can’t be an environmentalist if you eat meat (see video).
“You can’t be an environmentalist, you can’t be an ocean steward, without truly walking the walk,” said James. “And you can’t walk the walk in the world of the future — the world ahead of us, the world of our children — not eating a plant-based diet.”
In explaining why he converted to a vegan lifestyle, Cameron pointed to the environmental damage that raising livestock for food causes.
“It’s not a requirement to eat animals, we just choose to do it,” said James, director of the hit films Avatar, Titanic and the Terminator series. “So it becomes a moral choice and one that is having a huge impact on the planet, using up resources and destroying the biosphere.”
Marc Reisner, former staff writer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, summed it up best when he wrote in his book Cadillac Desert:
“In California, the single biggest consumer of water is not Los Angeles. It is not the oil and chemicals or defense industries. Nor is it the fields of grapes and tomatoes. It is irrigated pasture: grass grown in a near-desert climate for cows. The West’s water crisis — and many of its environmental problems as well — can be summed up in a single word: livestock.”
James Cameron also credited the vegan diet for his dramatic recent weight loss and improved health, saying at 60, he feels more energetic and stronger than he ever did.
The anti-aging health and weight loss effects of a vegan diet are no surprise to Dr. David Katz, director of Yale University’s Prevention Research Center.
“A diet of minimally processed foods close to nature — predominantly plants — is decisively associated with health promotion and disease prevention,” said Dr. Katz, author of Disease-Proof.
Dr. Neal Barnard agrees. “Studies suggest that free radicals [toxic molecules that form in the body] contribute to aging,” said Barnard, author of 21-Day Weight Loss Kickstart. “A vegan diet, rich in fruits and vegetables, is full of antioxidants which help protect the body from damage by free radicals.”