Conan the Barbarian. The Terminator. The Governator. Or just Arnold. But whatever you call him, be sure to add “vegan” to Arnold Schwarzenegger’s many monikers. Because the body-builder-turned-action-hero-turned-politician and soon-to-be stand-in for Donald Trump on the forthcoming season of “The Apprentice,” has given up meat. For the most part, anyway.
And here’s why it matters—especially as we enter into a Trump administration.
Over the summer, along with well-known vegan director James Cameron (“Titanic”, “Avatar”), Schwarzenegger lent his voice to a WildAid campaign, "5 to Do Today" aimed at convincing people, particularly in China, to reduce their meat intake and take other steps to decrease their impact on the environment.
“I’m slowly getting off meat,” Schwarzenegger said, “and I tell you: I feel fantastic.”
With Trump appointing Myron Ebell—a known climate-change skeptic—to head up the EPA transition, Americans are likely going to face at least four years of reduced environmental protection regulations and more favors for corporate polluters.
Even with current regulatory support aimed at thwarting climate damaging behaviors, consumer choices are a critical component to reducing carbon emissions. Nothing is more important or easy to change these days than our food choices.
Countries like China, where median household income is on the increase, are seeing significant spikes in meat consumption as it has long been associated with wealth and status. According to WildAid estimates, by 2050, meat consumption in China “is expected to rise by 76% and dairy consumption by more than 60%,” reports the Guardian.
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“One report from Nestlé stated that if people around the world ate as much meat as Americans, the planet would have run out of water 16 years ago,” reports Mic.
According to the Vegan Calculator, a website that analyzes the impact of dietary choices on the planet, every day that a person puts plants instead of animal products on their plates, that one person saves 1,100 gallons of water, 40 pounds of grain, 30 square feet of forest, and reduce 20 pounds of CO2 from the atmosphere. (And spares the suffering and life of an animal.)
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization points to animal agriculture as responsible for 18 percent of greenhouse gas emissions, a number larger than the exhaust of all transportation combined. Other estimates put livestock's impact significantly higher--responsible for as much as 51 percent of greenhouse gases.
Schwarzenegger, long known for his physique, is a former body-builder who scored dozens of leading roles in action films because of his strength and build. But he says there are myths about protein, particularly how much is needed to maintain that kind of body, and where that protein comes from. Even Schwarzenegger’s doctors were on board, suggesting he reduce his meat and dairy intake for optimal health.
“Less meat, less heat, more life,” he says in the WildAid film. "If they tell you to eat more meat to be strong, don't buy it."
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