His Mr. Olympia days might be behind him, but there’s no denying Arnold Schwarzenegger still takes health and fitness seriously. And his secret to staying in great shape at the age of 75? Veggie burgers.
Okay, so his diet is not all veggie burgers, but they are one of the retired bodybuilder’s top favorite protein sources. Speaking on a recent episode of his podcast Arnold’s Pump Club, Schwarzenegger—who is also an actor and the former governor of California—said that while he still eats eggs, salmon, and chicken, he has “more and more veggie burgers with lentils and beans.”
He added that he also regularly has pea protein powder from Ladder Supplements, the supplement brand he helped to create with basketball player LeBron James.
“In the morning after my workout, I usually have oatmeal with Greek yogurt or granola,” he continued on the podcast. “For lunch, I always have a salad, sometimes with a plant-based burger or maybe salmon or chicken. Other times, it’s with a scramble or omelette. For dinner, I always have soup. I like to eat light for my last meal.”
Arnold Schwarzenegger continues to advocate for plant-based foods
For many years, Schwarzenegger has been trying to get across the message that meat is far from necessary for health, fitness, and even “manliness.”
In the 2019 documentary The Game Changers, for example, which focuses on debunking the myth that meat is mandatory for athletic success, he explains that the idea that meat is essential for masculinity is purely a marketing tactic.
“I’ve lived in that world. Steak is for men. They show these commercials—burgers, George Foreman with the grill, and [an] epic sandwich,” he says. “This is great, great marketing for the meat industry, selling the idea that real men eat meat. But you’ve got to understand, it’s marketing. It’s not based on reality.”
While the actor still does eat meat every now and again, according to his own newsletter, he has dropped his consumption by about 80 percent. And the lifestyle change has done wonders for his health, too, he says. “My bad cholesterol number is so low that my doctor thought I might be a different person,” he wrote in 2022.
Celebrities look to plant-based foods to stay in shape
Schwarzenegger isn’t alone in looking to plants to stay healthy and strong. In the past, music legend Lenny Kravitz has revealed he also stays fit and healthy by following a predominantly vegan diet.
“A great blessing of living here in the Bahamas is that I get to grow my own food,” Kravitz—who hits the gym regularly—told Men’s Health in 2020. “So I have a garden where most of this food comes from. As you can see, I’m vegan and primarily raw.”
And last year, Australian actor Sam Corlett revealed that his training regime ahead of his role in Vikings: Valhalla involved well-planned exercise and plant-based foods.
“Before Vikings: Valhalla, I was playing this high school character [in The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina] who rarely had a shirt on, so I was intermittent fasting and high-intensity interval training often, keeping lean,” Corlett told GQ UK.
“When I got Vikings, the mission was to just get as big as possible, I didn’t want to look like a 16-year-old,” he added, before revealing that his go-to meals were stir-fries rich in ingredients like microgreens, kimchi, tempeh, fibrous veggies, spices, and beans.
A growing body of research supports the notion that plant-based foods can help you get fit and strong. In March 2023, a study published in the Journal of Nutrition suggested that meat isn’t necessary for building muscle, as plant-based protein offers just as much support to athletes in training.
This plant-forward way of eating also offers numerous other health benefits, and may even reduce the risk of certain chronic diseases, like heart disease and certain types of cancer, research suggests.