If you are a fan of professional wrestling, then you ought to be well-aware of Austin Aries and his in-ring accomplishments. Currently the Impact World Champion, Aries is seen around the world on the weekly programming of Impact Wrestling. Before returning to Impact earlier this year, Aries had been traveling around the world as “The Belt Collector,” winning championships within a variety of independent promotions.

Also interesting about Aries beyond his success as a wrestler is his relationship with food. Aries wrote about this in the memoir Food Fight, as penned with co-author Mike Tully. Simply put, Aries encourages everyday people to live well, eat well, and pursue their dreams, leading by example.

Watch Hugo Savinovich interview Austin Aries regarding his match against Marty Scurll.

Your book has a very conversational tone to it, sounding like you’re directly speaking its words. How long did you spend writing it?
Aries: The whole process took about a year and a half, almost two years. I worked with a writer, Mike Tully, who was able to take this and put them on paper. So as far as the conversational tone, the writing process was primarily a conversation between myself and Mike, which I think makes for an easier read. I’m not talking at my audience, but to them. I am not a writer, writing is not one of my strengths, but I do have a story to tell, and the book was a nice way of getting my message out to more people.

The first half of your book mixes wrestling with food, and the second half is entirely about food. Did you cut a lot out with regards to wrestling? Are there plans for a second book?
Aries: No, I didn’t cut wrestling out of the book. I wanted my first book to really be about my journey from a cheese-eating kid in Wisconsin to a plant-based professional wrestler. Wrestling is a big part of how I came to be vegan, if not the primary reason why, so my personal story and wrestling overlap. The book was never supposed to be all about wrestling, that book will come out some day. As I was writing this book, I could tell that my story could be told further in a second book, and maybe even a third, and purposefully left it open-ended for that reason.

Being vegan is often associated with punk rock culture, and in your book you draw a comparison between liking the Misfits pre-Hot Topic and liking wrestling before the Monday Night Wars. Did music play a big part in your upbringing?
Aries: Music played a large part in my upbringing. My dad listened to a lot of classic rock, and I would sit with him and ask “who’s this?” Music was influential to me, and I was exposed to a wide variety of artists and genres, but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge music buff. But doesn’t music play a role in everyone’s life? I think music is the soundtrack to our story. Since I travel a lot, I get to hear music from all over, and listen to tracks on my phone to pass the time.

Check out Austin Aries live on Bake And Destroy

Also in your book you mention winning a bar karaoke contest in college by singing a Creed song, playing in a cover band called Zeno’s Revenge, and also that a friend works for GWAR. What was your first concert?
Aries: Yeah, I was maybe about 10 years old when I went to my first concert to see Yes. My mom was almost due with my younger brother and couldn’t go, so I went with my dad. It was a pretty awesome experience being in the crowd, and the overall atmosphere was cool. Toward the end of the show, right when they were about to play their most popular song “Roundabout,” and the sound system blew. As you could imagine, the crowd wasn’t happy and went crazy. I tried to join in, but my dad pulled me straight.

You mention in the book that although your diet resembles that of a vegan, sometimes you eat stuff that you know is bad for you. What are some of those vices?
Aries: Yeah, so any processed food is not good for you, right? As a vegan, overindulging in manufactured meat products, vegan cheeses and baked goods isn’t the best thing for you. My biggest guilty pleasure is vegan sweets since vegan pastries can be hard to come by, especially when traveling. And of course, it’s hard not to indulge in vegan wine and spirits.

In terms of staying in shape, how much of it for you is about diet versus exercise?
Aries: A lot of staying in shape is diet. A lot of people will crush it in the gym and don’t pay too much attention to their diet, but I would say two-thirds of how you look is attributed to diet. When you can do both, workout and maintain a healthy lifestyle, you will see huge gains and great results. Since I travel so much it’s hard to stay consistent. It can be hard to commit to both, and it isn’t always easy to maintain an optimal level of physical fitness. Consistency is the best way to stay in shape, but realistically, it’s hard to do all the time.