ByLily Masco, writer at
"It's kind of fun to do the impossible." -Walt Disney
Lily Masco

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the legendary Austrian-American actor, bodybuilder, activist and former Governor of California, is transitioning to a vegetarian diet and urges everyone else to do the same. There are many reasons one embodies this lifestyle, including animal rights, religion, and health, but Schwarzenegger's rationale may surprise you.

What Is Schwarzenegger Rationale For Becoming A Vegetarian?

Schwarzenegger's reasoning for his change in regimen is mainly environmental. At the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris, Schwarzenegger tackled the issue by advocating for new technology and vegetarian-modeled diets. The politician explained to BBC :

"You have addressed a very important issue, which is that 28% of the greenhouse gases come from eating meat and from raising cattle, and all of those things... So we can do a much better job."

Why Is It Crucial To Act Now?

The bodybuilder expressed his irritation with climate change deniers or even green campaigners who simply focus on future risks and "long-term goals" as opposed to current ones. At the 2015 Paris 21st Conference of Parties (COP 21), Schwarzenegger justified his annoyance to The Guardian:

“It drives me crazy when people talk about 30 years from now, rising sea levels and so on... What about right now? Thousands of people are dying from pollution. People are living with cancer [because of air pollution]. There are people stuck in cancer wards now, tubes sticking out of them — 7 million people die a year because of pollution. We should be talking about that. [. . .] Stuff that happens in the future does not mean anything to people.”

Who's His Partner-In-Crime (Or More Accurately Partner-In-Peace)?

Arnold Schwarzenegger teamed up with his good friend, director James Cameron (Terminator, Avatar, Titanic), to call for "less meat, less heat, more life" in their campaign to fight climate change. The Terminator actor delivered an inspirational line: "If they tell you to eat more meat to be strong, don't buy it." Cameron offered his explanation for the change in his own vegetarian diet:

"The second biggest sector for production of greenhouse gases is animal agriculture. And so I just realized, hey, how can I call myself an environmentalist when I'm contributing to environmental degradation by what I eat."

Does Schwarzenegger Agree With Cameron?

Schwarzenegger agrees with Cameron's decision, but does not think that calling for a radical change in dietary customs is realistic. While he admitted it is ideal, and certainly encourages it, he told BBC he does not believe that everyone is ready to make the drastic change:

"My friend James Cameron, who is a famous director, he recommends to stop eating meat and therefore we will be able to reduce this. I think it is a good idea but I don't think that people will buy in. I think people will buy in to maybe stop a day, a week, to eat meat, or two days or something like that..."

How Does Schwarzenegger Recommend Beating The Odds?

Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall/TriStar Pictures
Arnold Schwarzenegger in Total Recall/TriStar Pictures

In his campaign video with Cameron, the politician added on to the difficulties in cutting off meat by going cold turkey. It is admirable, and many can do it or at the very least aspire to. However, if someone tries and fails, they are more likely to go back to their usual carnivorous habits. If the transition is a gradual one, the change is less noticeable and more likely to break into your everyday routine:

“You have to start slowly, you can’t just convince people to stop eating meat altogether. It’s a very big challenge, it doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done and you shouldn’t be on that campaign, but it’s a very hard thing to overcome.”

Is The Environment His Only Cause?

Rise of the vegan
Rise of the vegan

Schwarzenegger walked the walk by making a slow and gradual transition to vegetarianism. While his main justification is indeed to fight climate change, medical practitioners have suggested that he should be making this nutritional adjustment in his lifestyle regardless. No mention has been made of whether he plans on cutting out all animal products by going vegan. In his PSA with Cameron, he confessed:

"The more I went to do my physical, the more doctors started stressing, 'Arnold, you need to get off meat.' So I'm slowly getting off meat and I can tell you that I feel fantastic."

Does This Mean Goodbye To His Muscularly Muscular Muscles?

People often have misconceptions that going vegan or vegetarian will leave you fragile and weak. Schwarzenegger refuted that misinformed theory, providing Bill Pearl as an example, as well as himself. It's quite a convincing argument, considering these two are not only bodybuilding icons, but role models. If this doesn't suffice as a convincing example, there is simply no hope left.

The politician told BBC the following about alternatives to protein and its impact on muscles:

"Luckily we know that you can get your protein source from many different ways. You can get this through vegetables if you are vegetarian. I have seen many body builders and lifters that are vegetarians and get strong and healthy. And I have seen also those that eat a lot of meat and look healthy and strong."

Does This Make Him A Hypocrite Given His Previous Mockery Of Vegetarians?

Schwarzenegger is known for his famous quote — not the "I'll be back" one — but rather "You hit like a vegetarian," from his character, Rottmayer, in Escape Plan (2013). While some have used that against him, we mustn't forget he was portraying a character, not his own ideals. Just think of all the actors who have said something on screen that did not portray their own opinion. So... pretty much everyone in the industry?

Even if he were to believe his role's scripted line, one must commend his open-mindedness and ability to have a change of heart. If anything, proving that even he is capable of this transition only enhances his credibility in encouraging others to follow suit. If Schwarzenegger could do it, so can you (not applicable to everything in life).

Does This Mean He Doesn't Actually Care About The Animals?

Schwarzenegger may be pushing for this change in diet for environmental and health-related reasons. However, this does not mean that he is not for animal rights. On the contrary, the actor is an animal activist when it comes to protecting our furry — and sometimes not-so-furry — friends.

Arnold may not be the official spokesperson for animal rights, but his Twitter account shows how dedicated he is to the cause. He has shown a particular weakness in fighting for the protection of felines and elephants in regards to the latter's ivory. He has even teamed up with National Geographic in an effort to advocate for this change. Take a look of some of his social media posts, which will reveal some of his involvement, along with his stance on the issue:

Schwarzenegger has often been a topic of controversy, whether people find reasons to disagree on his talent as an actor or director, his political agenda, or even his build. Regardless of what your opinion may be in regards to the iconic multi-tasker, one must admit that he is fighting for a better change. Will Arnold Schwarzenegger ever succeed in terminating — or at the very least reducing — the consumption of meat?


Has Arnold Schwarzenegger managed to convince you to attempt vegetarianism?

Sources: Twitter, Facebook, The Guardian, BBC


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