Heavy-metal-headbanging, hard-hitting, hillbilly-pro-wrestling Mountain Mike Paul Crockett is not your typical vegan. In fact, along with ex-cattle rancher and "Mad Cowboy", Howard Lyman, he's one of the few people I've come across who's been able to do such a drastic lifestyle 180º - defying all odds, and in the process, saving his life (along with many animals). The fairy tale that "quality" protein only comes from eating muscle still persists in machismo culture, yet time and time again, people like Mike prove that the idea that eating muscle makes you muscular is as silly as eating a feather to fly.

I had some time to chat with Mike recently, and here's our interview:

DB: You have such an unlikely and amazing story - how and when did you become a vegan?
MPC: Thank you. I have only been a vegan for a few months.....but I have been a vegetarian since March 31, 2009. I made the decision to become a vegetarian after meeting my girlfriend, who has been veg for 15+ years. She made a suggestion that I cut back on meat, because she was worried about my gargantuan consumptions of animal flesh: 3-5 lbs a day! I had considered becoming vegetarian several times in my life prior to meeting her, but never went through with it because of the whole "animal protein = strength" bullshit that is fed down society"s throat, but once she showed me some slaughterhouse videos, that was THE END of my meat consumption! A few months ago, I decided that I cannot support ANY kind of animal cruelty, so I gave up eggs and dairy, and now as a vegan, I am looking into changing out the leather seats in my truck, getting rid of my leather wallet, boots, jacket, etc!  In my 31 years on this planet I have selfishly taken so much from animals that had no choice in their death, and dammit, I will spend the rest of my life making it right to the animals that I would have taken from had I not become a vegan....
DB: As a self-declared "hillbilly" and country boy, how is your new lifestyle perceived by your friends and family?
MPC: My family don't really understand my passion, since I used to be the one in the family to BBQ and cook the steaks to perfection, but they know when my mind is made up about something there ain't no changing my mind about things - honestly it hardly ever gets talked about, I have a wonderful family, my friends are also understanding, and a lot of them always ask me what I eat so they can keep those groceries on hand in case I drop by. But where I come from in East Texas, most people think something is wrong with you if you don't wake up and shove fried chicken and beef brisket down yer throat - but I can kick their asses, so whats the problem? That's right, there ain't one. Lol.....
DB: Who is Mountain Mike, and how did you create this persona?
MPC: When I became a professional wrestler in Jan 2009, I created the character known as Mountain Mike because I was weighing over 500 pounds, and always wore overalls......it really made the crowd pop, I came out there in the ring looking like a big ol' mountain man, and everyone loved it, especially the kids!!
DB: Only because I know you must love answering this question a thousand times a day, where do you get your protein?
MPC: I get plenty of plant protein from a wide variety of sources: black beans (which are an absolute staple of my diet), peanut butter, hummus, whole grains (brown rice, buckwheat, amaranth, quinoa), soymilk and Ezekiel cereal. I definitely got to be a morbidly obese 535 pounds by consuming huge amounts of animal protein and FAT! Now that all of my protein is plant based, I am much leaner (425 lbs), stronger, and more agile than I was when I was eating animals, and I am continuing to drop that nasty fat that I accumulated while eating unhealthy animal protein.
DB: Do you like to cook? What is your favorite dish, and what is your specialty?
MPC: As long as I can make it quick, I like to cook! And favorite dish? BLACK BEANS AND BROWN RICE! My specialty is a healthy vegetable stir-fry with peanuts and brown rice: quick, easy, and too spicy for most human beings. Haha!
DB: What do you wan to say to men who think that caring about health, animals, or eating tofu is for sissies?
MPC: Get destroyed by me or Rob Bigwood on the armwrestling table and then tell us we are sissies...or come watch me do 700 pound shrugs in the gym for reps - the real "sissies" are the ones who shoot animals for sport, recreation, or whatever the fuck their coward excuse is. That's right, I am calling out HUNTERS and calling them the real "sissies" of our world. Anyone else throwing around that word is just misinformed about our passions. Sorry about the rant, I have no tolerance for cruelty.
DB: Now that you have changed your lifestyle, have you influenced anyone around you to do the same?
MPC: I have made my family and friends look at what they are eating in a different way, and I encourage them to follow their heart and do what is right for our animals, environment, and humanity in general. I hope in time, they will feel the same compassion as I do.
DB: What is next in your career? I saw the trailer for "Wrestling Demons", how is that going?
MPC: I am working on becoming a motivational speaker. After all of the changes that I have been through over the last two years, I really want to help other people who might be struggling with depression, addiction, or believing in themselves. "Wrestling Demons" is currently under network consideration, and I believe that it is going to happen. I promise to help educate the public about veganism, and all the important issues that we consider to be our credo if it gets picked up by a network.

DB: What s the best thing about becoming a vegan? The worst?
MPC: Well as you can see, I am very passionate about animals  - the greatest thing about being a vegan is knowing that EVERY bite of food I put in my mouth has no suffering behind it, nothing sucks about being a vegan, we rule!!
DB: Where can we see you arm wrestle, wrestle, or play in your band?
MPC: Currently my band is on hiatus, but I am working on a New Age record that I hope to release next year. I am taking a break from professional wrestling due to a neck injury, so all my passion and heart is into armwrestling right now, and I am competing again in August at the Europa Supershow in Dallas, TX.
DB: If any of our readers are near Dallas next week, hopefully they'll come by and cheer you on!