I’VE ALWAYS FOUND it funny that while bodybuilders and vegetarians traditionally want the same things—better health and a fitter body—they haven’t always gotten along. Bodybuilders see vegetarians as being weak, thinking their refusal of meat makes them “girly men,” while vegetarians look at us as “meatheads” who prize our muscles over the good of the environment.
I’ve certainly been guilty of knocking our crunchy granola friends in the past. In my movie Escape Plan, I even accuse Sly Stallone’s character of hitting “like a vegetarian” during our fight scene. But that’s just the kind of macho bluster that makes for a fun movie—it’s not the way I really feel. As a matter of fact, I’m eating less meat these days myself, and I’m proud of it.
Last December, I asked people to try “Meatless Monday,” wherein everybody abstains from meat for just one day a week. Almost 15% of greenhouse gases come from livestock farming, so cutting back on meat consumption even slightly can have a big, positive impact.
As for how it will affect your fitness goals, it won’t. Meat is a great source of protein, but it’s not the only one. You can get it from combinations of beans and grains and, of course, supplements. Your muscles won’t know the difference. Bill Pearl was a lacto-ovo vegetarian, and he’s one of the greatest bodybuilders ever.
You see, you can be a bodybuilder and care about something that’s bigger than your own muscles.