Traditionally, pro wrestlers (or sports entertainers) have been large men with muscular physiques that looked like something out of a cartoon. In other words, wrestlers are often, quite literally, larger than life figures—or at least they used to be.
These days, those who step inside the squared circle, while usually still in great shape, are much smaller than the men many of us grew up watching in the 1980s and 90s. In fact, a number of them aren’t men at all—as the popularity of women’s wrestling has grown in recent years.
Since it’s no longer required that competitors are 300 pounds of solid muscle, the days of giant wrestlers consuming a seemingly endless supply of protein-based foods are long gone. In fact, there are growing numbers of sports entertainers who don’t eat meat at all.
That’s right—many of today’s top stars or either vegetarians and/or vegans. There are also several legends of the sport who decided to give up meat later in life. While the shift in diet may be surprising to some, it certainly hasn’t had a negative impact on the performances of the Superstars who've decided to give up beef once and for all.
To drive the previous points home, we're going to take a look at 20 wrestlers who are enjoying vegetarian or vegan lifestyles. After seeing the 20 names on our list, readers will soon begin to understand that when it comes to the sport of professional wrestling, one doesn’t need meat to compete.
20 Daniel Bryan
Aberdeen, Washington’s Daniel Bryan performs on WWE’s Smackdown brand. The 37-year-old star has held a WWE World Championship an impressive 4 times over the course of his career thus far. The 5-foot-10 star has headlined WrestleMania and is one of the company’s biggest attractions. Bryan also happens to be the current WWE Champion and has recently taken on an edgier heel (bad-guy wrestler) persona.
Even casual fans likely know that Daniel Bryan is a vegan. In fact, his vegan diet was part of one his early wrestling personas that he used in WWE. However, there are rumors swirling that Bryan may no longer be a vegan but remains a vegetarian.
19 Dave Bautista
Hailing from Arlington, Virginia, Dave Bautista is a professional wrestler who became a top star in WWE. The 6-foot-6 powerhouse has held the world title 6 times over the course of his illustrious career. He's headlined WrestleMania multiple times and also won the Royal Rumble match. Bautista has gone on to have a very successful acting career. He's appeared in several hit films including Blade Runner 2049, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Avengers: Infinity War.
Since leaving WWE, Bautista has decided to become a vegan. However, he does eat eggs from time to time—but we’ll let it slide.
18 Brie Bella
Along with her twin sister Nikki, Brie Bella is one-half of the wrestling duo known as the "Bella Twins." The 5-foot-6 brunette out of San Diego, California is a former WWE Divas Champions and one of biggest female stars in the company. Outside the ring, she's also had a very successful reality television career. The 35-year-old has appeared on hit shows like Total Divas and of course in her own spin-off series, Total Bellas.
Brie Bella has been a vegetarian for quite a while now. She's discussed her meat-free lifestyle in several interviews and mentioned it on social media as well.
31-year-old Allie is a wrestler who's from Toronto, Ontario, Canada. She made a name for herself working for independent promotions while using the ring name "Cherry Bomb." The 5-foot-10 starlet's career began to take off in 2013 when she signed with Impact Wrestling (aka TNA). During her time in Impact wrestling, Allie was won the Impact Knockouts Championship (the company's version of the women’s title) on more than one occasion. The former champ recently began to take on a darker persona and is now referred to as "Dark Allie."
Allie has discussed being a vegan in several interviews and has also mentioned it on Twitter a couple of times.
Maryse is a former Miss Hawaiian Tropic Canada who went on to become a professional wrestler. The 5-foot-8 blonde out of Montreal signed with WWE back in 2007. She went on to become a 2-time WWE Divas Champion and also had a great deal of success as a valet/manager. She's married to The Miz, who's also a professional wrestler. The couple even has their own reality television show, Miz and Mrs., which airs on the USA Network.
Back in 2015, Maryse re-tweeted a post from PETA, in which she claimed to be “100% Vegan.” However, it doesn't appear that her husband has given up meat.
15 Zelina Vega
New York City’s Zelina Vega made her national wrestling debut as a member of Total Nonstop Action (TNA) Wrestling. During her time in TNA, she performed under the ring name "Rosita." Along with her tag team partner Sarita, Rosita captured the now-defunct Knockouts Tag Team Championship. After some time on the independent circuit, in between stints, she went on to sign with WWE in 2017. It was there that she changed her name to "Zelina Vega" and began to manage Andrade Cien Almas, which she currently does as a member of the SmackDown roster.
In a recent Instagram post, Vega referred to herself as a “vegan athlete.”
14 CM Punk
CM Punk is a retired sports entertainer who originally hails from “The Windy City”–Chicago, Illinois. Known for his cerebral promos and ability to push the envelope, Punk has been one of WWE’s top draws for several years. A multi-time world title holder, Punk had a Hall of Fame-worthy wrestling career. Following his retirement in 2014, the former champ went on to pursue a career in mixed martial arts. He had two bouts in the UFC but was unable to win either contest.
Punk was a definitely a vegan in 2012, though he eventually gave up on a diet due to the pressures of being on the road—it’s unclear if he’s still a vegetarian.
Fort Lauderdale, Florida’s Lita is a wrestling star who began working for WWE in 1999. During her time with the company, she captured the WWE Women’s Championship on 4 separate occasions. Lita is perhaps best known for her association with a popular tag team known as the Hardy Boyz and her feud with the legendary Trish Stratus. In 2014, she officially became a member of the WWE Hall of Fame. Now 43, the talented grappler occasionally works as a commentator and still wrestles every once in a while.
In a 2014 interview, Lita mentioned that she had decided to become a vegan. However, it’s unclear if she ended up sticking with the diet or not.
12 Austin Aries
Austin Aries is a wrestler who had a brief stint with World Wrestling Entertainment. However, he arguably is best known for his time with TNA/Impact Wrestling. He was one of Impact Wrestling's top performers and held their version of the world title on 3 separate occasions. The 5-foot-9 star can currently be found on the independent circuit but will likely resurface with a major promotion sooner rather than later.
Back in 2017, he did an interview with USA Today in which he discussed his vegan lifestyle. He even published a book called “Food Fight” that centers around being vegan in the world of pro wrestling.
11 Pete Dunne
Pete Dunne, who is a pro wrestler out of England, currently competes in WWE’s minor league promotion, NXT, in both the US and the UK. At just 25 years of age, Dunne has already become the longest-reigning WWE United Kingdom Champion of all time and is also the current titleholder. His classic matches against folks like Tyler Bate have helped make him become extremely popular with diehard wrestling fans. Recently, Dunne headlined the inaugural NXT Take Over UK pay-per-view event.
In an interview with Muscle and Fitness, Dunne discussed his decision to become a vegan. It was his love for animals that made him want to stop eating meat.
10 Eva Marie
Eva Maire (aka Natalie Eva Marie) is a former pro wrestler who worked for WWE from 2013 to 2017. She performed both in NXT and on the main roster and was known for her signature red hair. Outside of the ring, she also appeared on the popular hit E! reality television series Total Divas. The former WWE Starlet even appeared in the popular film, Inconceivable, starring Gina Gershon. Those who've been missing the former wrestler will be able to see her on the upcoming season of Celebrity Big Brother, which begins on January 21st.
After her in-ring career was over, Eva Marie decided to join the ranks of the vegans.
9 Tyler Bate
Originally from Dudley, West Midlands, England, Tyler Bate is one of the most talented wrestlers to come out of the United Kingdom in quite some time. The 23-year-old has held multiple titles in World Wrestling Entertainment including the WWE United Kingdom Championship and NXT Tag Team Championship. His tag title reign came as one-half of “Mustache Mountain” along with his partner, fellow UK standout, Trent Seven. The 5-foot-7 Englishman can be seen on shows like NXT UK, NXT, and 205 Live.
In an interview with Men’s Health, Bate discussed being a vegan and his fondness for whole foods. The former champ has been known to enjoy a nice bowl of quinoa.
8 Velveteen Dream
Velveteen Dream is a wrestler out of Washington, D.C. who has first introduced to WWE fans as a contestant on the 6th season of their reality competition show known as "Tough Enough." He entered the series as a favorite but ended up getting eliminated in the 5th episode. He would go to sign with WWE and wrestle for NXT – the company’s developmental promotion. Since his debut, The Dream has established himself as one of the most popular stars in NXT.
While it hasn’t been officially confirmed, the Velveteen Dream has posted tweets that have led some to speculate that he's a vegan.
Kowalski, a wrestler out of Canada, debuted all the way back in 1947. He wrestled for over 40 years and worked for countless promotions including the National Wrestling Alliance (NWA) and the World Wide Wrestling Federation (WWWF), the promotion that eventually became WWE. In the mid-1970s Kowalski captured the WWWF World Tag Tag Team Championship with his partner Big John Studd. He's responsible for training several very successful wrestlers including Triple H and Chyna. At the age of 81, the former tag champ passed on in 2008.
In an old interview, Kowalski indicated that he had become a vegan before most people even knew what the term meant.
Aliyah signed with World Wrestling Entertainment back in 2015. Prior to signing with WWE, she wrestled on the independent circuit as "Jasmin Areebi." The 23-year-old Toronto native currently competes in NXT, WWE’s developmental promotion. Lately, she's been utilized as what’s known as an enhancement talent—a wrestler that primarily losses matches and helps other performers look good. At press time, it’s unclear when Aliyah might be called up to WWE’s main roster.
In a 2017 article that was published by Bleacher Report, Aliyah was mentioned as one of the many wrestlers who had decided to go vegan and stop eating meat.
5 Fit Finlay
Dave Finlay (aka Fit Finlay or Finlay) is an Irish-born wrestler who worked for both World Championship Wrestling (WCW) and World Wrestling Entertainment (WWE). His career highlights include winning the WCW World Television Championship and the WWE United States Championship. Over the course of his career, the Irishman has held over 20 championships for various promotions around the world. In 2012, WWE re-hired him as a backstage producer.
Though he did eat meat during his in-ring career, Finlay went on to become a vegan later in life. The fact that Finlay decided to go vegan shows that even the older stars are capable of giving up meat.
4 Lou Albano
“Captain” Lou Albano was a former pro wrestler and manager. While he had a noteworthy in-ring career, he's best known for being a manager in the 1980s and working with stars like singer Cindy Lauper. He's considered a forefather of the 1980s wrestling boom that helped build the profile of stars like Hulk Hogan and “Rowdy” Roddy Pipper. Outside of wrestling, Albano also did voice work on The Super Mario Bros. Super Show! Sadly, the wrestling icon passed away in 2009 at 76 years of age.
In a 2012 edition of the Wrestling Observer newsletters, it was reported that Albano had become a vegetarian later in life.
3 Nikolai Volkoff
Nikolai Volkoff was a pro wrestler who was born in Yugoslavia. He spent the majority of his career portraying a heel (bad guy) wrestler who represented the Soviet Union. Volkoff reached the height of his popularity in the 1980s while teaming up with the Iron Sheik. The duo would go on to capture the WWE (then WWF) Tag Team Championship at the first-ever WrestleMania. '90s wrestling fans will likely remember Volkoff’s feud with Sgt. Slaughter. The former champ passed away in 2018; he was 70 years old at the time.
Volkoff did an interviewed with The Baltimore Sun in 2013 and mentioned that he had become vegetarian following his retirement.
2 Zack Sabre Jr.
While fans in the States may not be familiar with Zack Sabre JR., he's a big star in the UK and Japan. The superstar from London, England is currently signed to New Japan Pro-Wrestling (NJPW) and won the 2018 New Japan Cup. WWE fans may remember Sabre from his appearance in the “Cruiserweight Classic” tournament, back in 2016. He advanced to the semifinal round of the tournament before finally being defeated by Gran Matalik.
After watching the documentary Forks Over Knives, a film that promotes plant-based diets, Zack Sabre Jr. decided to give up meat for good and become a full-fledged vegan.
1 Jimmy Valiant
Jimmy Valiant is a retired pro wrestler who made his in-ring debut back in 1964. In the '60s, he wrestled for a promotion known as the "World Wrestling Association (WWA)" where he was managed by the legendary Bobby Heenan. He's probably best known for performing in WWE (then WWWF) in the 1970s. During that time, he and his brother Johnny Valiant captured the tag team titles. He also had a successful run with the NWA in the 1980s, as the “Boogie Woogie Man” Jimmy Valiant.
In his biography entitled “Woo…Mercy Daddy!” the 76-year-old stated that he's a vegetarian.