The Hollywood star and former politican Arnold Schwarzenegger emerged as an unlikely champion of the Meat Free Monday cause last week, after he endorsed eating less meat as a key way of protecting the environment.
He was speaking at the COP21 climate talks in Paris, where a historic deal was inked last weekend binding countries to keeping global temperature rises to below 2°C. Key to that will be addressing the world’s dangerous appetite for meat, the livestock industry being a major cause of harmful greenhouse gases, as well as contributing to deforestation and water wastage.
Schwarzenegger addressed delegates on the need to act on climate change now, rather than wait until 2050, and was later asked by a reporter whether he felt people should be eating less meat for the sake of the planet.
The Terminator star explained that he supported the drive to encourage people to eat less meat, but said diets and habits would not be altered overnight. He said that while he doesn’t believe “people [would] buy in” to giving up meat entirely, they might be persuaded to cut down significantly.
“I think people will buy in to maybe stop [eating meat] a day a week … or two days a week or something like that. You have to start slowly. You can’t just convince people to stop eating meat all together – it’s a very big challenge,” Schwarzenegger said.
Apparently referring to Meat Free Monday, which actively encourages people to go meat free for one day a week, he added: “It doesn’t mean it shouldn’t be done and you shouldn’t be in that campaign, but it’s a very hard thing to overcome.”
Schwarzenegger will understand that more than most. Before finding fame he was a 17-stone bodybuilder who every day ate 1 g of protein for every pound of bodyweight – roughly 250 lb of protein daily, including steak, sausages and bacon. With the wealth of meat free protein sources available today, however, Schwarzenegger said meat was not the only way to bulk up and stay strong: “I have seen many bodybuilders and weight lifters that are vegetarians.”
The Mr Universe competition was won last year by Norwich bodybuilder Barny du Plessis, who has competed in 55 contests over 20 years, and is a vegan.
Watch Arnold Schwarzenegger’s interview with the BBC