Arnold Schwarzenegger is instructing Chinese citizens to eat less meat

China is using Hollywood to convince its people to cutback on meat.
China is using Hollywood to convince its people to cutback on meat.
Image: Reuters/Ina Fassbender
We may earn a commission from links on this page.

China’s government is asking its 1.3 billion people to eat less meat, and it wants two Hollywood stars to help.

US actor Arnold Schwarzenegger, Chinese actress Li Bingbing and Academy Award-winning Canadian director James Cameron will star in at least one public service announcement and several billboards set to appear throughout China, according to EcoWatch.

It’s a move that comes roughly a month after the country’s National Health and Family Planning Commission updated the Chinese Dietary Guidelines, and called for people to cut back on meat and eggs. The campaign is meant to tackle chronic health problems stemming from obesity and overweight in China, as well as the environmental footprint left by industrial meat production.

The Chinese health agency’s advice to reduce fatty meat and egg consumption to 200 grams per day (the average Chinese citizen consumes roughly 254 grams of meat and 142 grams of dairy and eggs) raised eyebrows when it was announced in May. Global health experts said the announcement was notable, but toothless without a strong campaign behind it.

“In absence of commitment from the political leaders and collaboration of other government agencies, I doubt [the guidelines] would be “internalized” by Chinese people,” said Yanzhong Huang, a senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations, at the time.

But by drawing on international star power to push the message, China’s government appears to be taking the health recommendation seriously.

“What China is doing right now with this announcement of trying to reduce meat by 50%, you just have to respect that,” Cameron said in a video interview. “That’s a leadership position.”

In 2012, Cameron said that he had switched to a vegan diet. In 2010, Schwarzenegger started the non-profit environmental organization, R20 Regions of Climate Action, to advocate for a more sustainable, low carbon economy.