Hannah McNeely, 27, California, USA
What is your occupation?
English as a Second Language Teacher to adults/college students
What is a typical day in your life?
I wake up at 6:00 and drink green tea while I journal. I eat breakfast and then go to work at a local community college from 8:00 a.m. – 12:00 p.m. I come home to eat lunch. Then on some days I tutor an English learner for a couple hours. Then I come back home and do yoga, meditate, read and work on my writing. I also work on other projects like a podcast called Earth to Us and pop-up vegan dinner parties called Spontanea. Then my husband and I have dinner together, which I make. Most of the time we eat dinner while watching whichever show on Netflix we are addicted to at the moment. Then I sometimes do more work on my computer, whether that’s writing, the podcast, or preparing for my lesson the next day. I shoot to go to bed around 9:30 but it’s almost always around 11:00!
When did you decide to make the change to living plantbased? Why?
I became plant based when I was 18 in 2006. See, my sister went raw vegan over night to find a way to heal herself from anorexia. I was never anorexic but I did want to be skinny. So I tried to eat plant based, too. But I kept failing (maple bar donuts were my weakness!) because I did not do any research to understand why animal foods were unhealthy for me, and I certainly did not have any ethical understanding of the foods I was eating. But then I realized how much the diet was helping my ailments. Growing up I had terrible digestion. I’m talking chronic diarrhea. I had gone to five different doctors, none of whom knew what to do, yet all of whom prescribed a different medication to me. None of it worked. The last doctor asked if I consumed a lot of candy and soda. I said of course, because I was a high school student. He suggested letting up on those and it helped a lot. And then when I started moving from animal foods and processed foods to plant foods, it improved even more, yet I still had bouts of bad digestion. Yet, this benefit helped me stick to it more. Then I went to Italy for three months to work as an au pair and English teacher. There I was only vegetarian and consumed a ton of cheese and Nutella and alcohol. I came back ten pounds heavier and sick. I had chronic diarrhea again, constant sore throats, depression, and anxiety. So I did an 8-day cleanse and I have been completely plant based since then, which was April 2011. It wasn’t until the summer of 2012, when I was planning our wedding, that I found the high carb lifestyle. I began to feel the benefits instantly and my digestion was improving tons. Then around January 2013, something clicked in my head. I was no longer vegan just for my nutrition, but also for the animals and the planet. It became ethical for me and my passion for this lifestyle has only grown and grown over the years.
What are your favorite eats?
Oh gosh, at the moment, fresh squeezed orange juice. Also, fully loaded baked potatoes with bean chili and guacamole.
What is your favorite restaurant?
Probably Crossroads Kitchen in West Hollywood. I’ve only ever been there once, but it was an epic experience. But I had to ask my dad to take me there because it’s a little pricey! Added benefit, he was completely blown away from this vegan gourmet restaurant.
Oh also! There is a this small hole in the wall in the Chicago area that we went to in the fall. It was amazing!! It’s called Amitabul. All vegan Korean food. No oil. No added salt, besides the soy sauce and miso. Incredible, delicious, lovely, healthy, warming, beautiful food. And the owner is so gentle and kind.
You must visit both of these restaurants some time in your life!
What do you usually eat in a day?
It changes all the time. Currently I’ve been having fresh OJ for breakfast. Then maybe I’ll have some sliced cara cara oranges an hour later. Then maybe I’ll have three giant hachiya persimmons. Then perhaps I’ll have banana ice cream with dates and oats on top. Then for dinner I’ll have something like sweet potatoes, ramen soup, tacos, or some sort of amazing no oil recipe from www.forksoverknives.com. In other seasons, I eat more greens. Sometimes I have oatmeal for breakfast. I’m not tied down to one way of eating, besides vegan of course! I just go with the flow and eat what’s on hand. And I really don’t eat three meals a day, as you can see. I just eat till I’m full then start eating again when I’m hungry.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Hm, that’s interesting. I don’t think I have one. I try to stay away from foods that are harmful for me. For example, tortilla chips and salsa used to be one of my biggest crutches. Too many times would I find myself beer drunk at a party and stuck at the chip table having consumed all the chips and salsa and blaming it on someone else. So, now I just don’t even touch chips. They’re too addicting for me. Instead, I like to bake corn tortillas on parchment paper at 400 degrees F for about 20 minutes and use those as chips! It’s such a great alternative. I still eat oily bad food sometimes, but I don’t keep it in my house. It’s more like a special occasion. I think it’s important to not feel super guilty about our foods, especially foods in our home. If I ever regret or feel guilty about food, I make note of that and move on. Guilt is pretty much the worst. I avoid it at all costs simply by making healthy decisions and enjoying that unhealthy food I eat every once in a while. If you eat something unhealthy and then don’t enjoy it, what’s the point? What a waste that is.
What is something you cannot leave the house without?
My big hydroflask water bottle, all filled up. I drink water all day.
What should everyone try at least once in their life?
Sober karaoke and dancing. It breaks my heart when people aren’t comfortable being silly in front of others unless they have had alcohol!
What brings you the greatest joy?
A whole day with nothing on the schedule except getting shit done.
What is your greatest fear?
Deep open water.
What is on your bookshelf?
About a zillion little treasures. I’m a big lit geek! If you want some specifics, my favorite book I read this past year was “The Secret History” by Donna Tartt.
What was the last thing you bought?
Uhhhhh, a ton of fruit at the farmers market??? I don’t really buy things except for food. Honest.
What are your dreams for the future?
I dream of a day where vegan is the norm. All those people who eat animals and things that come out of them and pay for animal exploitation are the weirdos.
Who inspires you?
My sister, Ellen.
What is something you wish you knew when you were younger?
When you eat chicken, a chicken had to die.
What is on your bucket list?
To spend at least six months in France studying the language.
Where is a destination you want to travel to?
Croatia. My father’s side of the family is Croatian and I would love to visit that beautiful country.
What is the perfect vacation to you?
My husband I going to Maui to be with my sister and her boys.
What is the most flattering compliment you have received?
That I’m observant.
What is your favorite animal?
At the moment, goats and armadillos.
What companion animals do you have?
Two very furry cats with freakishly fluffy tails. They are brothers and their names are Baloo and Prince.
What do you usually do on weekends?
Write. Yoga. Farmers market. Clean.
What is a charity that you are passionate about?
What is the greatest controversy of your life?
Oh dear. I don’t even know how to answer that!
What is your favorite quote?
“You can’t get a cup of tea big enough or a book long enough to suit me.” -C. S. Lewis
“Don’t do nothing just because you can’t do everything. Do something. Anything.” -Colleen Patrick-Goudreau
Why did you agree to answer these questions?
Haha, because I like to talk about myself. No, I’m kidding. Because I think it’s a cool project to show how all vegans are different and there really shouldn’t be a stereotype for compassion and health.