Schwarzenegger: "I'm slowly getting off meat, and I can tell you, I feel fantastic!"

Arnold Schwarzenegger, former Governor of California and widely regarded as one of the best bodybuilders of all time, recommends people work on cutting down and eliminating meat from their diet just as he is doing. His doctors recommend he eliminates meat for health reasons, and his friend James Cameron recommends eliminating meat due to it's severe and unsustainable environmental impact.

Schwarzenegger states:

"The more I went to my physical (examinations) the more doctors started stressing: "Arnold you've got to get off meat", so I'm slowly getting off meat, and I can tell you, I feel fantastic!"

WildAid in partnership with the Chinese Nutrition Society created the footage of Schwarzenegger and Cameron to kick off a new campaign focused on reducing meat consumption in China, in line with the latest guidelines published by the Chinese government.

In reference to animal agriculture being the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions (more than the entire worldwide transportation emissions combined) and therefore the leading cause of climate change, Arnold remarks:

"Less meat, less heat, more life." - Schwarzenegger

And Schwarzenegger again reiterated on the point he made last year: meat isn't necessary in the world of bodybuilding; it's possible to be a successful bodybuilder without consuming meat and that meat certainly isn't necessary to be strong. Arnold stated: 

"If they tell you to eat more meat to be strong, don't buy it." - Schwarzenegger

Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron on set to film a new PSA for WildAid (Credit: Vern Evans)

There are many reasons why doctors would have recommended Schwarzenegger should eliminate meat from his diet. Preventing disease in the first place is much better than having to try and treat disease after it's already occurred.

Amongst many notable doctors, Dr. Kim Williams, the President of the American College of Cardiology and Chief of Cardiology at Rush University, advocates a plant-based diet for heart disease prevention.

Heart disease is the #1 killer in the United States, and elevated cholesterol appears to be a primary cause. It was proven decades ago that heart disease could be reversed with a plant-based diet. And yet hundreds of thousands of Americans continue to needlessly die.

Dr. Williams is crystal clear when he talks about diet and heart health. He says that to prevent heart disease, "the most important things are plant-based nutrition, exercise, and weight loss. Most people will succumb to heart disease, diabetes, or hypertension on the standard American diet, which is why heart disease is the biggest killer in America. The best primary prevention strategy is improved lifestyle."

When he speaks to patients, he tells them frankly that their health is in their own hands:

"If someone already has heart disease or plaque, I will always recommend dietary change and exercise. Heart disease has killed more people in the United States than any other disease since the Spanish Flu epidemic of 1918-1920. I tell them they don’t have to be one of those statistics."

It's been 26 years since Dr. Dean Ornish’s landmark 1990 study showing that heart disease can be reversed without drugs and surgery[1]

So why aren't plant-based diets mainstream yet? Dr. Neal Bernard, President of the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) notes that the herd mentality in people is such that people will generally continue doing 'what the majority of other people are doing' - as they innately feel safer staying with the majority - even when what the majority is doing is not in their best interests. To redirect this herd mentality, Bernard suggests, 'the herd' consistently need pushes in the right direction.

The main body responsible for overall influencing people's dietary choices in the USA is the USDA - an organisation unfortunately also tasked with promoting the meat and dairy industries. Their dietary guidelines are released to the American public every five years, however due to their severe conflict of interest it's of no surprise they haven't made strong recommendations for plant-based diets as yet.

This silly situation isn't new  - 15 years ago Dr Caldwell B. Esselstyn noted that the USDA's American Dietary Guidelines are produced by the very same organisation also set up to promote the meat/dairy industry and results in a conflict of interest which was "in total violation of the moral imperative of our (medical) profession". [2]

And despite the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine bringing lawsuits against the USDA in 1999, 2010, 2011 and 2016 over the misleading dietary guidelines and conflicts of interest it still continues to this day.

So until the USDA is replaced by an impartial organisation, we have to rely on other thought-leaders such as Arnold Schwarzenegger and James Cameron to use their collective muscle to fight for changes that will result in improving the world's health. 

Since the release of Cowspiracy, a documentary executive produced by actor Leonardo Di Caprio, many people have come to realise the devastating effect animal agriculture has on our planet - and as our population increases that it's simply not sustainable.

Trillions of sentient animals suffer needlessly every year and in perpetuating the current unsustainable system we are wreaking havoc on the environment and our own health in the process. However more people than ever before are realising there's an easy solution that solves all of these problems: switching to a vegan lifestyle - and there is hope for the herd.

Love this content?

Receive our awesome newsletter straight to your Inbox!

One Click Subscribe

Your email address will always stay private.


Love this content?

Receive our awesome newsletter straight to your Inbox!


Login to leave a comment

Brendon Kelly | Wed, 22nd Jun @ 4:29pm

Great message! However, referring to your readers as a "herd" is a sure way to get your message lost and come across as just another sanctimonious Vegan - which happens to be your movements biggest PR obstacle.

veganbodybuilding | Wed, 22nd Jun @ 6:37pm

Hey Brendon - no offense was intended - it was a reference to earlier in the article when we mentioned 'herd mentality'.

gafinaldi | Wed, 22nd Jun @ 7:52pm

It has actually been 26 years rather than 16 since Dr. Ornish published his study. At that time I was a public health nurse and fully expected the health care community to start promoting a low fat and animal free diet. Boy was I wrong!

veganbodybuilding | Wed, 22nd Jun @ 11:22pm

Excellent, thanks for pointing that out Gracie!

Eric Shields | Wed, 22nd Jun @ 11:52pm

Maybe part of the problem is articles like this only talk about what NOT to eat, instead of going into detail about how a person can build muscle or even sustain themselves without meat, or dairy. no specific information at all in this article.

Eric Shields | Wed, 22nd Jun @ 11:55pm

Also, after taking into consideration how baked goods have been shown to be harmful to the human body, leading to diabetes, heart disease, etc., what does that leave? Strictly fruit and vegetables? It takes a lot of vegetables and fruit to make up for the amount of protein a person needs each day. Show me how I can get at least 60 grams of protein a day through only fruit and vegetables. Don't say nuts either, because those have plenty of saturated fats just like meat does.

Christina Dittmore Schuster | Thu, 23rd Jun @ 3:57am

Beans. All kinds. Lots of protein. Rice too has protein.. :)

Zerin Knight | Thu, 23rd Jun @ 4:54am

I never thought I'd be a fan or Arnie but, hey, how can I not?? Great article but please correct a typo 'dairy' not 'diary.' (twice).

veganbodybuilding | Thu, 23rd Jun @ 1:23pm

Fixed - thanks for pointing that out!

deepa_dlay | Mon, 27th Jun @ 8:20pm

Awesome news!

David Jackson | Sun, 2nd Oct @ 12:01pm

He became Arnie via his meat eating and steroid abusing lifestyle, where would he have been without his steaks? He never mentions the steroid abuse..shame.

Kristopher Ryan Dankers | Sun, 10th Mar @ 5:34am

There are multiple interviews where he admits to and mentions steroid use. LMGTFY

Kristopher Ryan Dankers | Sun, 10th Mar @ 5:31am

I have a hard time believing that Arnold is cutting out meat after 40 years of training, obsessing over the types of foods and amount of foods he put into his body. All of a sudden now he is going vegan, sounds made up or is a PR stunt. I guarantee he wouldnt have won mr. olympia 7 times without meat. I will say that about 1/3 of the US does extremely well on a vegetarian diet. Arnold is not one of them...