10 Questions: Everyday Vegan Changemaker with Mychael McNeeley
Mychael McNeeley is just one of those guys who lit the fire within me to create this third interview series, Everyday Vegan Changemaker. I feel like I say this every time I publish a new interview in this series but it’s true: Everyday Vegan Changemakers are those who seek to remove barriers to veganism and encourage people wherever they are without ever selling out the animals and Mychael exemplifies this blend of inclusiveness and dedication. From his base in San Diego, Mychael shines as an example of someone who is friendly, helpful, warm, committed and humble with his vegan advocacy. I am always deeply impressed with his steady and welcoming approach, one that doesn’t center him but the animals. I am so happy to be shining a little spotlight on Mychael McNeeley, an Everyday Vegan Changemaker who is creating so much good in the world.
1. To start, we’d love to know how long you’ve been vegan.
2. We’d love to hear your “vegan evolution” story. How did you start out? Did you have any early influences or experiences as a young person that in retrospect helped to pave your path?
In my youth, I joined 4H. The first animals I raised were two pigs, Wilbur (the runt of the litter) and Charlotte. Charlotte’s Web was my favorite book at the time. I loved Wilbur and Charlotte with all my heart, and they were truly my best friends for the year I spent with them. To this day, I feel a sense of regret about the ultimate betrayal of my friends, although at the time, I really did not understand what was going to happen to them. I was 8 years old.
In my teens, I became interested in anything mystical, spiritual, or philosophical, and began looking into yoga. I read a book by Richard Hittleman. I can’t remember the name of the book, but in it, Hittleman suggested that his readers stop eating all flesh for thirty days. At the end of the thirty days, he asked that we try a meal including “meat” like those we had eaten before the “challenge.” He was sure that the feeling we got would convince us that we never wanted to eat flesh again. I took him up on the challenge, and after the thirty days had no desire to go back. (Later, I did, though, but that’s way too long a story to recount here.) I did not eat “red meat” for…