Did You Know - Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Vegan?
Did You Know - Arnold Schwarzenegger is a Vegan?

Hasta la vegan, baby.

It’s a mash-up of unparalleled proportions. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Terminator, the face of bodybuilding for decades, and 7-time Mr. Olympia champion has gone vegan... And it’s been going on for a lot longer than you probably realize.

Related - Vegan Diet Plan for Building Muscle

On June 22, 2016, the website RiseoftheVegan.org published an article discussing the governator’s slow transition away from meat. [1] Schwarzenegger began the transition from meathead to veg-head due to the recommendations of his doctors who advised he cut back on meat for health reasons.

According to Schwarzenegger:

“I’m slowly getting off meat, and I can tell you, I feel fantastic!”

Schwarzenegger isn’t the only big Hollywood name ditching meat either, director of The Terminator, James Cameron, also has decided to forego animal fare. The two have teamed up issuing a joint statement, during the filming of a PSA for WildAid, an organization focused on reducing the demand for wildlife products, with both recommending to eating less meat for benefit of the environment and overall health.

Bodybuilding and Vegan Diet

Interestingly enough, the former Mr. Olympia great has also taken his promotion of veganism one step further, stating it’s not essential to consume meat to be strong or great at bodybuilding:

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

It’s a common misconception that meat is essential to building muscle and strength, but all that’s really essential for muscle growth is having ample supply of all the essential amino acids the body requires to repair and grow muscle. The benefit to animal-based proteins is that they naturally supply all of the required essential amino acids while plant-based proteins are incomplete, meaning they’re lacking in one or more of the essential amino acids.

This is typically why vegans have to combine foods to form a complete protein. A prime example of this is beans and rice.

While Schwarzenegger may be saying nowadays that meat isn’t necessary to build muscle, he wasn’t preaching the same word back when he released the revolutionary Encyclopedia of Bodybuilding.

In the seminal work, Schwarzenegger outlines anything and everything you can think of that’s necessary to build muscle, including diet advice for gaining and losing weight.

Specifically, he points out that:

“The best protein powders are those that derive their amino acids from milk and egg sources.” [4]

Optimal protein choices:

  • Fish (any low-fat source; some fish and shellfish are relatively high in fat; shrimp contains high amounts of cholesterol; when in doubt, check a food guide)
  • Fowl (chicken, turkey; remove skin, which is high in fat; some fowl, such as duck, are higher in fat)
  • Eggs
  • Canned tuna (packed in water, not oil) Non-fat milk (not "low-fat")
  • Milk-and-egg protein powder

He also lists protein sources that are “TO BE EATEN WITH CARE:” [4]

  • Beef (stick to lean cuts only; a regular 3-ounce sirloin steak gives you about 330 calories, with 20 grams protein, 27 grams fat; by comparison, a very lean cut of the same size might contain 220 calories, with 24 grams protein and only 13 grams fat)
  • Pork (lean cuts only; pork includes ham, sausage, and bacon, as well) Lamb (lamb chops are higher in fat than pork chops)
  • Cheese (some cheeses are higher in fat than others; if you are a cheese lover, check a food guide for lower-fat kinds)
  • Whole milk (and other dairy products like butter, cream, and sour cream)

There’s also suggested meal plans for hardgainers. One example of a day’s eating would be: [4]

Breakfast

  • 2 eggs, preferably poached, but any style O.K.
  • 1/4 pound meat, fish, or fowl
  • 8 ounces milk
  • 1 slice of whole-grain toast with butter (protein = approx. 52 grams)
Lunch
  • ¼ pound meat, fish, fowl, or cheese
  • 1 or 2 slices of whole-grain bread
  • 8 ounces milk or fresh juice (protein = approx. 43 grams)
Dinner
  • 1/2 pound meat, fish, or fowl
  • Baked potato with butter or sour cream
  • Large raw salad
  • 8 ounces milk

Now, one could argue that this was written over 30 years ago, a time when we didn’t know as much about health, nutrition, and fitness as we do now, but nevertheless, it’s interesting to see Schwarzenegger, once a die-hard carnivore, switching sides.

Takeaway

Vegans around the world are celebrating as for decades, they’ve been portrayed as scrawny and weak. Now, with The Terminator on their side carrying the torch for eliminating meat consumption, vegans can ditch the skinny and feeble stereotype and tout the lean, ripped physique of an Olympia champion.

Does Arnold's switch to vegan impact your decision to eat meat? Do you think consuming animal-based products are essential to building muscle and strength? Is meat really as bad as some make it out to be?

Leave a comment below with your thoughts!

References
1) "Schwarzenegger: "I'm Slowly Getting off Meat, and I Can Tell You, I Feel Fantastic!"." RiseOfTheVegan.com, 22 June 2016, www.riseofthevegan.com/blog/schwarzenegger-im-slowly-getting-off-meat-and-i-can-tell-you-i-feel-fantastic.
2) "Arnold Schwarzenegger Feels 'Fantastic' After Saying 'Hasta La Vista' to Meat." PETA, www.peta.org/living/other/schwarzenegger-feels-fantastic-meat-free/.
3) "Instagram Post by Official PETA ? Jun 22, 2016 at 7:34pm UTC." Instagram, www.instagram.com/p/BG9_srLG-N2/?utm_source=ig_embed.
4) Schwarzenegger, Arnold. (1987). Encyclopedia of Modern Bodybuilding.