Melanie Leyshon is the editor of Healthy Food Guide magazine. She's a flexitarian and couldn’t get through the week without yogurt and yoga.

As Arnold Schwarzenegger weighs in on eating less meat, we look at the health reasons why having veggie days makes good health sense

It’s not often that movie stars talk sense when it comes to healthy eating. That’s why we sat up and cheered this morning when we heard Hollywood’s own beef cake and Terminator Arnold Schwarzenegger urging people to switch to a few meat-free days a week.

At the UN Climate Change Convention in Paris, he cited the 28% of greenhouse gases produced by eating meat and raising cattle as one reason to cut meat in our diets – and help save the planet.

He said he knew healthy vegetarian body builders who had no problem building muscle.


 Read our article on the top 10 sources of meat-free protein.

HFG experts and health experts have long recommended having meat-free days for health reasons, as well as to save the planet. Here are some of the benefits of going meat free for part of the week:

* Feel fuller: People feel 31% fuller after including 160g of pulses (beans, lentils or chickpeas) in their diet according to a review of nine clinical trials published in the journal Obesity.

* Fight diabetes: Recent findings show that you could reduce your risk of diabetes if you eat a diet high in vegetables, oil-rich fish (trout, mackerel, salmon and fresh tuna), wholegrains, nuts and olive oil, and low in red meat and sugary cakes.

* Lower cholesterol and control blood glucose: Beans and lentils are all low in fat and high in fibre – particularly soluble fibre, which helps to control blood glucose and cholesterol levels.

* Help protect against cancer: In the UK, more than one in three of us develop some form of cancer, but reducing our intake of red and processed meats (the UK government recommends we eat no more than 500g cooked red meat each week) could prevent up to 40% of cancers.

* Fight breast cancer, specifically: A meeting of UK and US cancer experts in London suggested a new plant-based plate plan that may help to reduce cancer risk: fill two-thirds of your plate with plant foods and a third or less with animal foods. This may help to reduce cancer risk by cutting calories and fat while increasing fibre and vitamins.

* Feel happier: 33% of adults with high mental wellbeing ate five portions of fruit and veg a day, compared with just 7% who ate less than one portion, according to scientists from the University of Warwick after analysing figures from the Health Survey for England.

* Reduce calories: plant-based diets contain fewer calories than animal-based foods.

* Save money: a plant-based diet is assumed to be expensive, but actually it’s often cheaper. Beans and lentils cost less than the equivalent amount of meat or fish.


Discover some of our easy meat-free recipes.