Austin Aries, vegan wrestler
Austin Aries is an American Pro Wrestler who has competed with the nation's best and won numerous World Titles. He’s known for a range of spectacular signatures moves.
Austin made his debut in 2000 and by 2004 was competing in the Ring of Honor (ROH) following success in the Midwestern States. On Boxing Day 2004 he took on Samoa Joe, the longest reigning ROH World Champion, and beat him to take the World ROH Championship. He retained the title for six months in a number of defences, many of them international, before losing it in June 2005.
In 2005 he and a partner won the ROH World Tag Team Championships. Later that year he joined Total Nonstop Action Wrestling (TNA), returning to ROH in 2007.
In 2008 he teamed up with Bryan Danielson, a wrestler who has experimented with a vegan diet in a one-night tournament to find new world tag team champions. They were eliminated by the eventual winners. The following year he won a three way match to become the only person to have held the ROH World Championship more than once.
2011 saw him return to TNA. After some comeback wins he competed for the X Division Championship but didn’t win the title. He later won an eight man match which earned him a further shot at the X Division Championship, this time winning the title. He defended the title in a rematch then on eleven further occasions.
He the vacated the title in order to concentrate on a new goal – TNA World Heavyweight Championship. In July 2012 he won the title from Bobby Roode, the longest reigning TNA World Heavyweight Champion. He later lost the title after 98 days.
January 2013 saw Aries team up with Roode to win the TNA World Tag Team Championship, which gave Aries the Triple Crown, a rare honour of having won all three major championships of TNA. He is one of only five wrestlers to achieve this. They later lost the tag title after 76 days.
We caught up with Austin in 2014 and he told us about how he felt about his career and some personal highlights. “My first moment of pride was simply my very first match. I worked hard to be able to fulfil that goal of actually becoming a professional wrestler. From there I would have many other memorable moments such as winning the ROH World Title on two occasions, and coming back to TNA Impact Wrestling and capturing the X-Division, World Heavyweight, and Tag-Team Championships all within two years of returning there."
In 2016 he was announced as a new signing for WWE, where he moved to face new challenges (read more here).
Austin is a vegan although he rarely uses that title. He eats an entirely plant based diet, which he adopted in 2011 following years as a vegetarian (since 2000). The 95kg (210lb), 175cm (5’9”) wrestler has found himself called ‘The Spectacular Vascular Vegetarian’ and ‘MV3’ ‘The Most Valuable Vascular Vegetarian’, and, of course, 'The Greatest Man That Ever Lived' among his nicknames.
“At the core, eating other creatures doesn't appeal to me” he told us. “As I continued on my journey and became more aware and educated on the corporate food system I've made better choices. Finally after seeing Forks Over Knives, I decided it was time to cut out all dairy and eggs as well. Being a decade long vegetarian at the time, the transition was much easier.”
Like many athletes, Austin has found some curiosity and misunderstandings from other people in wrestling, although this has been respectful. He’s found people don’t understand that protein requirements for muscle building can come from other sources besides animals. These views may have been changed by his physique.
Austin’s diet is predictably good, including plenty of fruits and vegetable. “I eat a lot of fruits and vegetables such as bananas, blueberries, oranges, spinach, kale, sweet potatoes, broccoli, avocados and tomatoes. For my protein I eat tempeh, lentils, beans and vegan protein powders. I also enjoy quinoa, pumpkin seeds, walnuts, pecan meal, almonds, peanut butter and coconut oil.”
After more than a decade of wrestling, Austin is keen to continue his career. “I hope to just continue to be healthy and happy while calling professional wrestling my job. I also hope to use my platform to educate and transform people's perceptions on plant based diets, what plant based athletes look like, and can achieve, and to just encourage everyone, no matter what your lifestyle is, to be more mindful of the choices we have when it comes to diet and the impact those choices have on ourselves, our culture, and the environment.”
He is also hopeful that more people can follow his example and discover more about food. “I just encourage everyone, especially parents and kids, to really get educated on the corporate food system currently in place. It's causing an epidemic of sick people. Take the power back, and put the nourishment of your body, mind, and soul back into your own hands. Every little step you make to eliminate animal products in your meals is a one step closer to the big leap we all could benefit from taking.”
In 2017 Austin released a book, 'Food Fight', which told of his vegan transition and insight on the effects of the meat and dairy industry. He gave Great Vegan Athletes an interview which you can read more about and hear highlights here.