Austin Aries grew up as a “meat-eating, cheese-loving” Wisconsinite, but details extensively how his journey to a plant-based diet is inherently connected to his journey into professional wrestling.
In his debut book, Food Fight: My Plant-Powered Journey From The Bingo Halls To The Big Time, Aries takes readers from his childhood eating habits and love of wrestling to his decision to cut all meat from his diet.
While obviously intended to focus more on his path toward a plant-based diet, Aries does not neglect his target audience. From the beginning, Aries, with an assist from co-author Mike Tully, does a tremendous job of keeping wrestling fans interested — at least for the first half of the book — by seamlessly transitioning from talking about nutrition to his passion for wrestling on his dual journeys to the squared circle and a life free of meat.
He details his love for the business and gives due-credit to his trainers in Minnesota, Eddie Sharkey and Terry Fox. Discussing how he came into the business should keep most wrestling fans happy and reading, though the fact that his role in WWE (with the exception of some tryout matches early in his career) isn’t touched on could frustrate some. It’s just important to keep in mind that Aries’ intent wasn’t to delve into his wrestling career, but to show how his journey to a plant-based diet paralleled his journey in the wrestling industry.
Half-way through the book, Aries deliberately switches gears and talks exclusively about nutrition, and talk of wrestling is essentially non-existent. He prefaces that portion of the book as such, asking readers who only picked up the book because of his squared circle endeavors, to not stop reading.
Early on, Aries makes a point to say that he doesn’t intend to come across as being preachy. It’s clear throughout that he’s passionate about his lifestyle and nutrition choices, and, at times, there is a bit of “preachiness.” However, it’s always balanced with the caveat that he understands a fully plant-based diet is not the best path for everyone.
In taking readers on a journey through his early years (when he still ate meat), he shows that his choice was a long-time coming and based on a series of seemingly inconsequential events that, in hindsight, became pivotal moments.
The first “planted seed” occurs on a family farm when he has a literal meeting of the minds with a cow, then comes to the realization that the animal he locked eyes with on the farm ended up on the dinner table.
Aside from the obviously strong nutrition theme, Aries also makes it a point to discuss a crucial part of his past, when he was a drug runner. This also presents the opportunity for him to put his views on drug use out there for the public. While he never explicitly states that he still uses recreational drugs, such as marijuana, he makes it a point to defend it in the grand scheme of things.
“I think we’re going to look back at the steroid era of baseball one day and we’re going to realize how misguided we were, just like what’s happening with the old misconceptions about marijuana. It’s just another boogeyman that we’ve created. Anything can be bad for you if it’s abused,” Aries wrote.
He also blasts well-known chain restaurants such as McDonald’s and Subway. For McDonald’s, he talks about how the restaurant is so ingrained in American culture that it becomes a way for families to make traditions, which are then passed down through generations (among other grievances). He then takes Subway down by blasting its use of meat from multiple animals “pressed together in one ‘breast,'” among other not-so-clean-eating antics.
Regardless, even if you don’t agree with Aries’ lifestyle or nutrition choices, he makes valid points that, at a minimum, will open peoples’ eyes to a different way of thinking about food — with a bit of wrestling thrown in the mix.