Pete Dunne, the Birmingham-born grappler, isn’t your typical vegan. Whereas many in the movement and community are kind, gentle and empathetic, the character Dunne portrays in wrestling rings is often vicious and brutal.
Dunne isn’t your typical wrestler either. Those who can recall ring warriors of the 1980s and 90s remember towering caricatures of men who claimed their alarmingly chiselled physiques came from “saying their prayers and taking their vitamins”; we know now, thanks to famous court depositions, that some of them may have been filing their bodies with different substances altogether. Dunne, an athletic 205 pounds on a five-foot ten frame, steers clear of this and is much more ethical with his diet – his plate never contains meat, dairy or other animal products. His physique, then, comes from a nutritious meal-plan and hard work in the gym, proving that meat isn’t a necessity for athletes despite widespread assumptions to the contrary. Dunne even largely eschews mock meat, preferring whole foods.
Known as the “Bruiser-weight”, Dunne made his name on the British independent wrestling scene and put together an incredible portfolio of gripping matches which won him a loyal fan-base of discerning wrestling fans who adored his in-ring psychology. His international breakthrough, though, came in the form of WWE’s inaugural UK Title Tournament in 2017 where Dunne enhanced his reputation over two nights at Blackpool’s Empress Ballroom with hard-hitting brawls and technical, character driven master-classes. He reached the final of the tournament to crown WWE’s first ever UK champion, losing to 19-year-old fellow vegan Tyler Bate. Though the youngster may have won the war, Dunne had the last laugh by defeating Bate four months later to clinch the UK Title which he held for over 400 days.
Dunne became a vegan for ethical reasons – like many in the plant-based community, his decision was made after watching the acclaimed Cowspiracy. He’s discussed the film whilst sharing a link for a Vegan Starter Kit on Twitter, telling his followers to:
Make the world better! If you need to know why the meat/dairy industry is so bad (other than rape and murder) watch Cowspiracy on Netflix.
This isn’t the only time the British wrestler has actively promoted veganism on social media to his hundreds of thousands of followers – his feed is full of recipes and advice, often engaging in discussion with dissenting voices. Dunne has previously refuted the idea that plant-based diets are inherently less healthy than omnivorous ones, replying to one misguided Twitter follower:
You could be vegan and live off crisps and fizzy drinks. Just like meat eaters…. nothing to do with plant-based eating.
The wrestler has a long career ahead of him where, on current form, he’ll continue to change conceptions of what a wrestler could and should be. He’ll also continue to challenge conceptions of vegans in the mainstream media too.
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