One of the things I love about being vegan and having a keen interest in fitness is that there is an ever-growing number of role models out there in a variety of sports. Whether it’s the likes of Mac Danzig in MMA, endurance athletes like Brendan Brazier, or hulks such as Patrik Baboumian, whatever sport you’re into there are vegan atheletes in the out there (and they are very often hugely successful).
However, here’s something I never thought I’d see. Today I discovered that, as of 18th December, the WWE World Heavyweight Champion has been vegan.
Bryan Danielson (better known by his WWE name of Daniel Bryan) has been in the wrestling business for 13 years now, beginning a backyard wrestler in 1999. However, following success, he decided to wrestle professionally.
Danielson had many years of success in ROH – a lesser-known but still widely respect wrestling organisation. However, in 2009 he was suffering from numerous liver infections and skin conditions. His doctor suggested trying veganism for a while, and he never looked back.
Since then, Danielson has gone from strength to strength (literally) and wrestled for the WWE. However, he’s not simply just following veganism for health reasons. Bryan Danielson joins the likes of Austin Aries (AKA The Vascular Vegetarian), Taryn Terrell, and one of the forefathers of modern wrestling, Killer Kowalski in stepping into the ring with convictions behind them.
Since going vegan Danielson ethical convictions have evolved. Danielson wrestles in faux-leather boots, and has a faux-leather strap on his belt. After briefly being fired in 2010, PETA followers successfully protested and demanded he be rehired. PETA has granted him the award for being the ‘Most Animal Friendly Athlete’ this year too.
Danielson runs a website/blog which he updates regularly with the vegan food and supplements he’s been eating as he travels in his career. Currently Danielson is engaged in defending his title in a feud with The Big Show.
Sadly, the WWE seem to have stumbled across the fairly obvious idea of making veganism his ‘thing’ and making something of a gimmick out of it. This somewhat mirrors their use of CM Punk’s straight edge convictions.
However, I can’t help but smile a little to see a WWE champion in the ring espousing the virtues of veganism in a sport that is otherwise dominated by carcass guzzling men. With wrestlers regularly suffering from early-onset health problems such as heart disease and bone weaknesses due to the amount of animal protein they ingest (whilst Danielson has only gone and reversed health problems he has suffered from), we can only hope that more follow in Danielson’s footsteps and become vegan.
It may have become Danielson’s gimmick but it’s great to see veganism taking such a high position in the WWE, arguably one of the most successful and renowned sports franchises of all time. And it is something of an inspiration to see yet another high-performing vegan athlete reaching the top of their game.