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  2. Jan 29, 2019

James Costa: Turning Ideas into Action

by President - Neal Barnard, M.D., F.A.C.C.

Brought up to always think of others before himself, longtime Physicians Committee friend and supporter James Costa says that everyone has the ability to make positive change.

“We all have the power to do good. We just have to make sure that we use it.”

That’s why James jumped at the opportunity to be the chair of the Physicians Committee’s President’s Council in 2017. Since taking leadership of the President’s Council, he has pulled together a group of people from across the country who are leading efforts to reach influencers and raise funds to help the Physicians Committee create a brighter future for animals and people.

“We think strategically about people whose minds we need to change and talk to them so they hear us,” says James. “We set goals and accomplish them. It’s not just a lot of talk.”

James, a filmmaker and producer, who wrote and directed Lunch Hour, a documentary on improving school lunch nutrition, says that the most gratifying aspect of chairing the President’s Council is getting to work with so many great people.

“There are a lot of smart people on the President’s Council, and we all learn from each other,” he adds. “Nothing is better than that when you want to get big goals accomplished.”

In his full year as chair, James has made a major impact. When he set a goal for the President’s Council to raise $400,000 to support the Physicians Committee’s nutrition research work, he led the Council’s efforts and made it happen. The Physicians Committee’s clinical research team is already putting those funds to work in four studies designed to demonstrate the health benefits of a vegan diet.  

“We are incredible leaders in the field of plant-based research, and non-vegan doctors seek us out,” says James, whose own views on health were influenced by Physicians Committee research.

“It has affected me profoundly,” he says. “The Physicians Committee has made me aware that everything I put in my body should be healthy and be good fuel.”

Where does James see the Physician Committee in 30 years? “Hopefully, we’ve solved the world’s health issues and are taking care of ourselves and the planet.” Until then, James is dedicated to making sure the President’s Council turns that idea into action.

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