Is Arnold Schwarzenegger Really Vegan? Behind The Bodybuilder’s Diet Switch


When non-vegans think about vegan stereotypes, they usually don’t imagine someone like Arnold Schwarzenegger. The former bodybuilder, actor, and California state governor definitely defies the vegan stereotypes.

But the question remains…Is Arnold Schwarzenegger 100% vegan?

The vegan stereotype is usually pale, skinny, weak, or even female. Words like strong, muscular, or bodybuilder are not common when answering what a typical vegan looks like.

While there are many well-known Hollywood vegans, many of them tend to fit the mold, somewhat, of the vegan stereotypes and Arnold Schwarzenegger definitely breaks this mold.

Who is Arnold Schwarzenegger?

While you probably know him from your favorite 1996 Christmas movie, Jingle All The Way, or his famed Terminator role, Arnie also has a lot more to him.

Starting his fitness journey as a teenager in Austria, Arnold Schwarzenegger became a bodybuilder before moving into a Hollywood career in acting. If you’ve never imagined a vegan bodybuilder, now is the time to change your mind.

He didn’t just simply stop at bodybuilder-turned-actor. He even went on to become California’s Governor in 2003 and has been a well-known environmental activist since he left that position.

He is a chameleon that wears many disguises: bodybuilder, actor, Governor, producer, environmentalist and yes, vegan.

‘Arnie’: The Beginning

Born in Austria in 1947, Schwarzenegger became interested in fitness from a young age. Starting with soccer, he moved to the gym at the tender age of 14 when he chose bodybuilding over soccer practice.

This early life decision shaped the rest of his life and he has since found fame as an international bodybuilder.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Vegan

The Austrian turned American gained US citizenship in his mid-thirties, being granted to hold a dual Austrian-American citizenship by Austrian authorities. He still retains a famously identifying Austrian accent, one of his identifiers as a prominent Hollywood star.

In more recent years, Schwarzenegger was elected as Governor of California in 2003, a role that saw him advocate for environmental change, such as signing to create the Global Warming Solutions Act in 2006 to reduce, and eventually cap, greenhouse emissions; fight to get trans fats out of school cafeteria meals; and even to ensure safe drinking water for California.

Through his passion for environmental justice it is easy to see that he is authentic in his journey to eat less meat, become vegan, and fight for climate change and animal rights.

Bodybuilder Turned Actor

Since he started his fitness journey as a child in Austria, and his bodybuilding career as a teenager, it can be safe to say that Arnold Schwarzenegger is a true lifelong bodybuilder.

Even in his seventies he is still considered a bodybuilder, despite the fact that he hasn’t competed since 1980. He made such an impact on the bodybuilding world that he can’t shake off the label.

Between 1965 and 1980 he took part in 22 bodybuilding competitions and didn’t come less than second place in any of them. I would trust any fitness advice from a man with those credentials.

In the 40 years since Schwarzenegger’s last competition appearance, he has kept his body in fantastic shape. Many people of his age would start to be winding down in their retirement and settling in for the relaxing years of life, but not Arnold.

In his early seventies, he has the body that a man in his twenties would be proud of. In fact, his 22-year-old son, Joseph Baena, looks just like him and even takes his dad to the gym for training advice. Who wouldn’t want to look just like their dad if their dad was the Arnold Schwarzenegger?

Arnie is in touch with modern technology and can be found posting fitness videos on his Instagram (@schwarzenegger) that would rival his son’s own fitness page on Instagram (@projoe2).

Arnold Schwarzenegger Vegan
Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Adorable Mini Pony And Donkey are the real stars of his Instagram page

His son, Joe, is clearly proud of his dad and inspired by his bodybuilding past, as can be seen in many referenced posts to, and with, his dad on his page.

His vegan lifestyle obviously sustains him pretty well, as he has been in good health even into his later life and he has suffered no major health issues or deterioration to his physique.

Schwarzenegger lives a very environmentally friendly life, often cycling to his gym, or around the California city he calls home, instead of adding to traffic emissions, which goes to show that veganism is not his only gift to the environment.

Why did Arnold Schwarzenegger stop eating meat? 

“I stay away more from the meats and more from animal products, and animal proteins, because there was this misconception that that’s the only way you get big and strong, so now I back off that and I feel much better,”

According to Arnold declaration, he stays away from meat because he feels much better and that should be a good enough reason for anybody.

Schwarzenegger has revealed he has turned more ‘health-conscious’ in recent years, moving away from his old diet.

“Now I eat more oatmeal, and greens, and vegetables, and healthy foods.”

Many believe that Arnold has made the switch for health reasons under the advisement of his doctors having eaten a diet high in red meat for many years.

Others believe he turned vegan as part of his participation and promotion of the Game Changers movie.

But what is more important is that he wouldn’t be speaking out about veganism as passionately as he is if his diet switch wouldn’t have given him the results he was looking for. 

How Does Arnie Sustain His Lifestyle?


Schwarzenegger is known to rely on his life-long habits to continue living the way he does. With no sympathy for things being too difficult, he has lived 60 of his 72 years gritting his teeth and getting through to the end of his hard-to-accomplish goals.

A man with so many different hats, it would have been easy for him to turn around and give up with each “no” that he heard, but having started disciplining himself for difficult goals at 14, it’s understandable that his lifelong determination ensures he doesn’t ever take “no” for an answer.

Arnold Schwarzenegger Vegan

He works out every day, even at 72, just as he did at 52, 32, or during soccer practice as a kid.

How to be A Vegan Bodybuilder

Following a plant-based diet is important for vegans, that goes without saying, but the amount of protein to be found in vegan foods has many overlooked health benefits that can easily sustain a bodybuilder’s taut physique.

Vegan Diet

Despite being labeled as a vegan, Arnie isn’t actually 100% vegan in his diet. He does eat eggs sometimes. And while the most militant of vegans, or even vegetarians, will argue that that makes him a fraud, I believe it’s okay not to be 100% perfect.

Veganism is a journey for many, and a lifestyle choice that is personal to each of us and shouldn’t necessarily follow the extremes of every label or rule associated with it.

Despite his minor flaw in being an egg-eating vegan, the rest of his diet is one to admire if it helps us on a journey to look anything like the Austrian champion.

To be a vegan anything, the most important aspect would be to check your diet. First of all, taking steps to live as plant-based as you can, vegetables like spinach are a bodybuilder’s best friend. Remember Popeye? Spinach was his secret to success, and it can be yours, too, to reach your target of a Schwarze-bod.

Schwarzenegger himself has spoken about his love for Beyond Meat – the meat substitute taking the vegan world by storm. If you’re new to the vegan lifestyle but want to look just like Terminator himself, then brands like Beyond Meat are definitely a good choice for a low-change transition; you won’t have to give up any meat-eating habits, simply just swap your meat for “meat.”

Many arguments against veganism in sport are the apparent lack of protein in a meatless diet. The average adult only needs 7 grams of protein for every 20 kilograms of bodyweight they have, so there are plenty of plant-based or vegan foods with more than enough – if not, more – protein, compared to meaty counterparts, such as, lentils, nuts, and grains, which often carry little-to-no saturated fat or sodium, depending on preparation.


Fitness is the most important part to becoming a bodybuilder like our Schwarzenegger hero.

Granted, Arnie probably had a bit of a leg up on you, having started his bodybuilding journey so early, but it is never too late to get fitter.

Weight training, yoga, and HIIT are all great ways to get your body into maximum muscular shape, like Mr. Schwarzenegger. He can be seen stretching, lifting, and cycling in many of his videos on social media. A true testament to his fitness commitment.

If lifting weights is not for you, cardio is still a great fitness option for a vegan fitness starter. Start with long walks and build up into running, adding high interval training to blast fat even faster.


Being vegan itself isn’t just about what you eat, Schwarzenegger can attest to that, given his history of environmental activism.

Being vegan is an entire lifestyle commitment.

Not only is his plant-based preference a staple in his kitchen, but his environmental activism is prominent in his politics too. Now, I’m not saying everyone has to run for president or protest against climate change – although the latter isn’t the worst idea – but just that you should consider how much of your life is reflected in your vegan views.

It would seem silly that a vegan would still go fishing, even if they don’t eat the fish they catch. It would also be hypocritical to continue to buy products from companies that are known to test on animals or use animal products in their non-vegan ranges.

Arnold Schwarzenegger even keeps a pet Donkey, called Lulu, at home as part of his pledge to helping animals. He lifts weights in her company and even shares his breakfast with her. What a beautiful partnership and a truly unique way to show his care and love for animals.

Make Your Vegan Bodybuilding Lifestyle Sustainable

Of course, no one is going to become a vegan bodybuilder overnight, these lifestyle changes need to be sustainable. Habits are easy to make, but easier to break, and as Arnie himself pushes through the habitual barriers; you need to, too.

To sustain a vegan diet, you must keep it fresh and exciting. While Arnie enjoys Beyond Meat products, he almost definitely mixes it up with other meat alternatives and a large assortment of vegetables. No doubt, after a hard work out, he includes some complex carbs to help keep his body running, too.

The sustainable health benefits of a plant-based diet working in partnership with a fitness regime of a bodybuilder are clearly easy to see when you look at 72-year-old Arnold; he isn’t slowing down anytime soon.

Arnold Schwarzenegger, the Inspiration

‘Arnie’ has, no doubt, inspired an army of people to change their lifestyle habits to parallel his. From his Terminator films that blasted him into the spotlight as a bodybuilder-turned-actor, to his 22-year-old son, Joseph, who has followed in his father’s bodybuilding footsteps, it’s easy to say Arnie is an inspiration to many.

To add to his accomplishments along with his environmental activism, Arnold Schwarzenegger can now be listed as documentary-film producer. In 2018 he executive produced activism documentary The Game Changers, which looks at people just like him: plant-based athletes. Even the year before that he narrated a documentary, Wonders of the Sea 3D; Arnie is on an environmental mission, clearly.

Following Arnold’s Vegan Bodybuilding steps

Obviously, Arnold Schwarzenegger is an inspiration to many, for his variety of achievements, and while it is absolutely admirable to want to be just like him, I understand that maybe that would be biting off a bit more than you could chew.

Let’s focus on the minimum of his achievements: being a vegan bodybuilder.

Without having to aim as high as Arnie’s record-breaking bodybuilding champion wins, we can all take some tips and inspiration from his fitness habits, diet choices, and other lifestyle changes to at least get slightly closer to this vegan bodybuilder dream of ours.

Habits of Arnold Schwarzenegger:

  • Make no excuses
  • Push through the hardships
  • Know that failure is part of the growth to success
  • Don’t force strictness on your diet
  • Always do your best

Arnold Schwarzenegger’s Personal Vegan Diet Faves

Overall, it seems that the biggest takeaway from Arnie’s vegan fitness lifestyle, would simply be to enjoy life.

He has done so much with his life and achieved so many things all while retaining his famous physique as well as taking on a vegan-centric diet.

He takes time out to work on himself away from the stresses of the limelight, and he changes career often to keep life exciting so he can enjoy himself. No doubt, his fitness regime changes all the time, in order to make sure he doesn’t get bored with his workouts, and he partners that with a consistently changing, but nutritional, home menu, too.

Schwarzenegger lives a life philosophy of “rituals over resolutions,” simply meaning, make habits to aid you to the goal, but don’t get overwhelmed focusing on the goal itself.

His philosophy can be followed throughout his famed life, having worked in so many fields, attaining many bodybuilding awards, and having many successful activism campaigns. It is easy to see that Arnie doesn’t give up and pushes towards his goals using habits such as working out regularly or eating nutritional vegan food to sustain his busy lifestyle. 

How has the View of Vegans Changed?

Maybe now you may have a new view of a vegan should or could look like. Vegans can be tall and tanned and covered in muscles. They can be lead heroes in action movies, Governor of the state where they implement so much environmental change.

Vegans are not all female, skinny, pale people, but they are all inspirational, admirable, and determined, especially Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Is Arnold Schwarzenegger Vegan? | Conclusion 

Since Arnold has acknowledges himself he is 99% vegan but still eats eggs, technically calling him vegan would be a lie. But that doesn’t mean he isn’t making a huge impact and with that 99% and is also making a great job at sharing his positive change and spreading the message to a lot of new people. 

What’s your take on Arnold’s stance on veganism? Let us know in the comments below!

The Author: Ruby Helyer

Ruby is a Brit lost in space. She enjoys traveling the world, having lived in a handful of different countries, she now lives and studies in beautiful Tennessee, US. When she isn’t fighting the environmental battle against climate change, she can be found walking her dogs, creating illustrations, or experimenting in the kitchen.


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