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James Cameron: Go vegan for weight loss, health and to save the environment

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Director James Cameron said he feels younger and healthier after following a vegan diet for two years. "I feel great," Cameron said in a Reddit Q&A. "I feel like I set the clock back 15 years." Judging by a photo comparison of James in 2011 and 2014 (at left), he appears thinner and more youthful after going vegan.

Cameron said he improved his health and experienced effortless weight loss after switching to a 100% plant-based diet. James joins a long list of celebrity vegans, including Jared Leto, Michelle Pfeiffer, and Samuel L. Jackson, who are sold on the anti-aging benefits of a vegan diet.

Enjoying improved health and weight loss on a vegan diet isn't surprising to medical experts like Dr. Joel Fuhrman. “The more greens you eat, the more weight you will lose,” said Fuhrman, author of The End of Dieting.

Vegan triathlete Brendan Brazier, author of the bestseller, Thrive Fitness, agrees. Brendan, a former professional Ironman triathlete and two-time Canadian 50km Ultra-Marathon champion, got incredible results on his plant-based diet.

"Shifting to a plant-based diet will give you more energy without stimulants such as sugar and caffeine," said Brazier, who also penned the Thrive Energy Cookbook. "You'll also enjoy better sleep quality, faster recovery time, better digestion, reduced inflammation, reduced risk of injury, and longer endurance."

James Cameron: Factory Farming Is Destroying the Planet

Cameron switched to a vegan diet in 2012, citing a desire to protect the environment. “The single biggest thing that an individual can do to combat climate change is to stop eating animals because of the huge carbon footprint of animal agriculture," he said.

In 2006, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization released a report indicating that 18% of the world's man-made greenhouse-gas emissions come from livestock production. In reality, that figure is closer to 51%, according to a 2009 report by Robert Goodland and Jeff Anhang of the World Bank.

Nathan Pelletier, an ecological economist at Dalhousie University in Halifax, Nova Scotia, underscored that eating cows isn't the main problem; it's eating cows raised on factory farms. Pelletier told Time that grass-fed cows are better for the environment that cows raised on livestock farms, where they're pumped full of hormones, antibiotics and live in horrific, unsanitary conditions before they're slaughtered.

"If your primary concern is to curb emissions, you shouldn't be eating beef," said Pelletier. "Conventional cattle raising is like mining. It's unsustainable, because you're just taking without putting anything back. But when you rotate cattle on grass, you change the equation. You put back more than you take."

'The West’s Environmental Crisis Is Due to Livestock'

However, some experts take issue with the notion that grass-fed beef is more environmentally friendly than factory-farmed livestock. Dr. Jude Capper, an assistant professor of dairy sciences at Washington State University, says grass-fed cows do as much harm to the planet as factory-farmed ones.

"There's a perception that grass-fed animals are frolicking in the sunshine, kicking their heels up full of joy and pleasure," Capper told Fox. "What we actually found was from the land-use basis, from the energy, from water — and particularly, based on the carbon footprints — grass-fed is far worse than corn-fed."

One thing all vegetarian experts agree on is that livestock production damages the planet, and a plant-based diet is more eco-friendly than a meat-centric one. Marc Reisner, former staff writer at the Natural Resources Defense Council, summed it up best when he wrote:

"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.”

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