In a powerful op-ed for the Guardian, Academy-Award-winning director James Cameron and his wife, activist and co-founder of the Muse School in Los Angeles, Suzy Amis Cameron, are urging a shift toward a plant-based diet “if we’re to reach our climate goals.”

Our collective minds are stuck on this idea that talking about food’s environmental impact risks taking something very intimate away from us. In fact it’s just the opposite. Reconsidering how we eat offers us hope, and empowers us with choice over what our future planet will look like. And we can ask our local leaders – from city mayors to school district boards to hospital management – to help, by widening our food options,” the couple wrote, pointing to a summit underway in Chicago this week —  the Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy — which focuses on climate solutions that can be addressed and achieved at the city level.

“Animal agriculture is choking the Earth, and the longer we turn a blind eye, the more we limit our ability to nourish ourselves, protect waterways and habitats, and pursue other uses of our precious natural resources,” say the Camerons. “Raising livestock for meat, eggs and milk generates 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, the second highest source of emissions and greater than all transportation combined. It also uses about 70% of agricultural land, and is one of the leading causes of deforestation, biodiversity loss, and water pollution.”

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The couple point to the human health consequences as well, citing data that prove a number of life-limiting health risks increase when meat, eggs, and dairy make up a significant part of our diet.

Yes, food is inherently personal,” the Camerons note. “It’s the cornerstone of holidays, it fuels high school athletes and long workdays, and it nourishes nursing mothers and growing children. And yes, Americans love meat and cheese. But more than that, we love our majestic national parks, family beach vacations and clean air and water for our children and grandchildren.”

And all of this is being threatened in large part due to the choices we make every time we sit down at the table, they say.

“As individuals, we can make choices on how to better nourish our families, and as citizens, we can encourage local leaders to make choices that will allow us to enjoy our land and natural resources now and in the future.”

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