WWE: How Daniel Bryan Debunks Myths About Vegetarians and Vegans
WWE superstar and former World Heavyweight Champion Daniel Bryan punctures massive holes into vegetarian stereotypes and misconceptions.
Before watching Bryan wrestle, a number of people have likely never met or (knowingly) seen a vegetarian.
Did they imagine them all to be bleary-eyed, gangly hippies who were capable of nothing more athletically challenging than a game of hacky sack?
According to Vegetarian Times, 3.2 percent of Americans follow a vegetarian-based diet. A slimmer portion of those folks follow the stricter vegan diet, disallowing egg, dairy and all animal products in addition to meat.
Daniel Bryan is one of them.
Thankfully WWE hasn't given him a full-fledged vegan gimmick. Chances are a costumed vegan warrior carrying a stick of celery to the ring might not go over well with fans.
He has instead flourished in the role of arrogant bad guy with a talent for submission holds and missile dropkicks.
Bryan is proof that vegans can be strong, healthy and upper echelon athletes.
Myth: Vegetarians Are Not as Healthy as Meat-Eaters
The first question vegans often get when the topic of their diet comes up is, "How do you get your protein?"
While a vegan diet is certainly not as predominantly protein-packed as one that includes meat and dairy, it's not a reason to be concerned for the health of any vegans you know.
Without the benefit of animal-based proteins, Bryan has sculpted an impressive physique.
Every time he delivers a suplex to a larger opponent, he demonstrates how powerful and athletic vegetarians can be.
His diet has not inhibited his ability to build muscle or stay healthy.
Myth: Vegetarians Are Militant Weirdos
The stereotype of the preachy vegetarian armed with grisly photos of slaughterhouses screaming "Murder!" when you bite into your burger doesn't come from thin air.
There are in fact vegetarians like that, just like there are pushy, annoying members of most groups.
Daniel Bryan is none of those things.
In his People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals PSA, Bryan expressed his views in a considerate and thoughtful manner.
Like all vegetarians, Bryan is an individual. Seeing him act contrary to the stereotype of the angry, self-righteous vegan can be eye-opening for those who think all vegans fit that mold.
Myth: Vegetarians Are Wussies
To a significant portion of the population, ordering grilled vegetables instead of a steak may seem effeminate or weak.
For many, manliness is tied to meat eating.
Daniel Bryan kicks people in the head for a living. He has excelled in a sport of violence and machismo.
He has chosen a diet that promotes benevolence and compassion for animals and that may come off as being overly sensitive even a sign of fragility.
I'd argue, though, that making a life decision that is outside of the cultural norm in order to satisfy one's personal beliefs takes a considerable amount of mental toughness.
Bryan has not been overwhelmed or out-toughed during his time with WWE. He's won fans over in part because of his grit and fortitude in the ring.
He will likely be in the championship hunt for years to come and continue to be considered one of the best technical wrestlers in the world.
Bryan's success shows fans that vegetarians aren't a society of weaklings.
He puts a bearded face on that small percentage of Americans who choose veganism.
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