WrestleMania probably isn’t the first place you’d look to find a vegan—right? Wrong. Self-proclaimed animal lover and WWE® Superstar Daniel Bryan™, is here to smash any stereotypes you think you have about what it means to be a vegan athlete. He recently sat down with peta2 to discuss how his vegan diet has helped get him in the best shape of his life. Check out part one of our two-part interview, and stay tuned for more!

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Growing up, Daniel Bryan always knew performing for WWE would be in his future, telling peta2, “I was passionate about it from the time I was real young … I was always dying to do it. And then when you get this realization … like, wait a second, you can actually do something, then it just takes on this whole new thing.” Once the realization hit, there was no looking back. From breaking into the indie wrestling circuit, to becoming a WWE NXT rookie and training with his idol Shawn Michaels, to winning the WWE United States Championship, it’s safe to say Daniel is on top of his game.

Becoming a WWE Superstar requires serious athleticism and unrivaled dedication to staying in peak physical condition, so naturally, that means cutting fatty animal products out of your diet, which is exactly what Daniel did. “Last year, I was having so many health problems and I had a really weak immune system. This has been since I was a kid. I mean when I was in school, sometimes I would miss a full month of school, just being sick and that sort of thing. With WWE, just being on the road all the time, your immune system just gets worn down. In 2009, I ended up getting three different staph infections and two different other skin infections. I went to the doctor … He gave me a couple options of what we could do but one of things he said that helps out his patients a lot is trying to go vegan. I said I’m open for anything at this point  … So, anyway I started going vegan then, and this whole year my energy levels have been great, I haven’t gotten any skin infections. Right now I’m 198 lbs which is the heaviest I’ve weighed since 2003 … I’m stronger right now than I’ve ever been … I’m dead-lifting more than I ever have before.”

Aside from the overwhelming health benefits of a vegan diet, it’s also the best thing you can do for animals. Daniel has always been sympathetic to animals, saying, “I’ve never been a hunter, I’ve never been a fisher, anything like that.” He’s even spent time working with animal shelters, where every year 6-8 million cats and dogs are handed over, and nearly half are euthanized for lack of a good home.

Stay tuned for part two of this interview and for contest details that will score some lucky fans the ultimate WWE prize pack!