Vegan professional wrestler Austin Aries is a man of many accolades. He has been an active competitor in the independent wrestling circuit since 2000, earning more than 20 titles across various promotions throughout his career. A vegan since 2011, Aries is also the author of the book “Food Fight: My Plant-Powered Journey from the Bingo Halls to the Big Time.” The book explores Aries’ rise to fame in the world of professional wrestling as well as what led the Wisconsin native to adopt a vegan diet.
Aries is a three-time and current title holder of the Impact World Championship, the top title of the American professional wrestling promotion Impact Wrestling. He was also the holder of the Impact Grand Championship, a title that existed until Aries himself announced during a press conference that he would unify the titles.
That isn’t the full extent of the vegan athlete’s highly decorated wrestling career. He was also signed to top international wrestling promotion WWE (World Wrestling Entertainment) and has been booked by various independent promotions across the globe. Aries recently became known as the “Belt Collector” due to his knack for nabbing victories in title matches across multiple organizations.
In an interview with LIVEKINDLY, Aries revealed what it’s like to balance a healthy vegan diet with the often strenuous schedule of a professional wrestler. According to Aries, it is not unusual for a wrestler to drive across states or hop on a plane, often on little sleep. “You’re working such odd hours, a lot of times you get out of shows late… But if you’re trying to be mindful of any type of eating, when you’re out at midnight or 1 in the morning, you’re not getting good stuff, I don’t care what your choice is,” Aries said.
I thought about smiling, then I thought about the animals. Another day down of workouts crushed, meals devoured, and animals saved. I’m not really even a “pet person” yet I’ve saved tons of animals lives by simply not eating them. The hardest part? Explaining how it’s really not that hard once you give a fuck…about yourself, the animals, or the planet we all share. 🌱 . Great shirt courtesy of my friends at @mercyforanimals . . . #vegan #vegansofig #veganathlete #veganfitness #veganmuscle #plantbased #plantpowered #meatfreeathlete #nomeatathlete #eatlikeyougiveafuck #friendsnotfood
Most wrestlers, Aries said, do carry food with them to avoid relying on unhealthy late night food options. But while others will opt for tuna packets as a low-fat, high-protein option, Aries ensures he has vegan protein powder packets, lentil packets, “and of course, bananas” on hand.
Considering long-held societal beliefs that meat is linked to masculinity, Aries said he is proud that his book has helped him reach many who may not have otherwise considered leaving meat and dairy off their plates. “I’ve really had a positive impact on a lot of my fans just by being who I am,” he said, recalling a moment when he attended his first VegFest in Orlando. “After a panel signing books, and a longtime fan of mine came up to me and said I was the reason he chose to become plant-based himself and in the time since, he lost 200 pounds. His sister-in-law lost 100 pounds, but went back to her previous lifestyle, but the point is, I affected this young man’s life in such a huge way and turned his life in a completely different direction.”
I’ve adopted a very simple life rule in 2018: If you’re not enjoying it, you’re doing it wrong. And I’m grateful to be enjoying it now more than ever.
— Austin Aries (@AustinAries) June 27, 2018
“For as much as I love wrestling, hearing fans cheer, or in my case, boo,” Aries said, referring to his current angle as a “heel” (wrestling lingo for a villain), “there’s really something about being able to help people in a meaningful way that really affects change in their lives and by proxy, probably the people around them too. I reached somebody and they’re gonna reach somebody and that’s how we make change over the course of time.”
An 18-year career in professional wrestling takes its toll on the body. Many wrestlers have their careers cut short due to injury and many others now cope with lasting physical damage that accumulates from years of the strenuous physical feats performed in the ring. In order to prevent injury, Aries recently took up regular yoga practice so that hopefully, he joked, he can continue wrestling for “another 18 years.”
“I think as you get older the mindset goes from building muscle and lifting weights to staying in the game, staying healthy, staying limber and loose,” he said. “To be quite honest there’s really been nothing that’s helped me as much as feeling still feeling young and like a high-level athlete and also to address some injuries that have accumulated over the years as much as yoga has.”
Between advocating for animals and healthy plant-based food on Instagram, Aries continues to be an active competitor in professional wrestling, performing for respected promotions such as RoH (Ring of Honor), Impact, WSW (World Series Wrestling), and others.
Image Credit: Austin Aries