Hollywood director James Cameron says New Zealand is not living up to its clean, green image in an interview with TVNZ’s Sunday. This is because of the environmental damage caused by meat and dairy farming.
“What we see is that the rivers and the lakes are extremely polluted here,” said he vegan, adding that “there’s a lot of work to do here to steward the land properly.”
Live much better, much longer, on a plant-based diet
Cameron re-iterated a constant theme of his that too many resources and too much land is required for meat production.
“From a sustainability standpoint, the problem is that getting your protein from meat requires anywhere from 10 to 40 times as much land as getting the same exact nutritional value from plants.
“I think what we need is a nice transition to a meatless or relatively meatless world in 20 or 30 years.”
He claimed that people need to rethink their attitudes toward food. “People have this idea that I have to eat muscle to build muscle, but we don’t eat brains to make brains, you know. I mean, that’s not how the body works,” he said.
“And you can live much better, much longer, on a plant-based diet.”
Vegan world “premature and idealistic”
Cameron’s views were not universally well-received on the programme.
A livestock farmer from Wairarapa reacted with disdain that a vegan world would ruin his business.
“I say to James Cameron, that’s bloody ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous,” the farmer said.
“He’s going to put me out of business and the country’s living standard will go down because that’s where the income comes from. New Zealand relies on agriculture.
“As humans, we’re an animal that eats meat, not just plants. We’re not sheep or cows, we’re humans, and humans have always eaten meat.”
A spokeswoman for Beef and Lamb New Zealand said that Cameron’s push for a meat-free world is “premature and idealistic”. New Zealand’s rugged and varied landscape make such a move impractical.
“There is still a huge global demand for meat and in particular sustainably produced meat which New Zealand does really well,” said Lee-Ann Marsh.
“You can’t grow crops on very hilly terrain so we couldn’t actually just say ‘you know what, we’re going to grow crops’ because it wouldn’t work.”
The iconic filmmaker whose work includes Avatar and Titanic, and his wife Suzie own 1500 hectares of rural land in Wairarapa and they are applying for New Zealand citizenship.
Acknowledging that their message as outsiders is mistrusted in New Zealand, the well-known vegan celebrities do emphasise that their message also applies to the whole world, not just New Zealand. “We’re happy to live here, we want to be good, responsible New Zealanders.”
Strong women can save the world
In March 2019, in an interview with CNN, James Cameron addressed the recent UN Climate Environmental Report which says that we have until 2030 to save the planet.
Looking at all the issues, joining the dots all lead back to meat-eating he said at that time. “So why not cut out the middleman and just eat plant-based food instead?”
Changing one’s diet was the best way for an individual to feel empowered for one’s own health, one’s family’s health and the health of the planet. “What we buy and put on our forks can change the world,” he said.
“I put my faith in women to change the world. I think men approach the world in a certain way, that tends to be dominative and aggressive, it’s just how men have been wired since the dawn of time. I think we need a more female, kind of goddess based perspective, we have to nurture life, we have to care for it.
“I think the great conflict of the future is going to be between the takers and the caretakers. So the takers are the male energy and the caretakers are the female energy. I’ve always respected that.”
On his film sets, they use a solar-powered electrical system and only serve plant-based meals to the crew.