Interview #23 Dallas McCulloch, aka Vegan Fitness Punk, Australia

I started following Dallas McCulloch’s work when he was posting as Vegan Yoga Punk. He’d been reinventing himself after a struggle with alcoholism. He turned to yoga, straight edge, and veganism as part of his road to health. More recently, he’s expanded from yoga into weightlifting and Aussie rules football. As you’ll see in this interview,  though wellness is key to his evolution, his punk attitude still prevails. Unlike many interviewees on this site, he’s not a father. In fact, he takes a hard stance against adding more humans to the global population. But, he was kind enough to grant this dad an interview. He’s also shared some personal advice with me that I hope to take into the new year as I strive for better health. I hope this interview makes you laugh as much as it does for me. Note: the interview process began in early 2016, so some of the questions are a little dated. Fortunately, Dallas compensated for my questions by giving answers that are more up-to-date.
Name: Dallas McCullochdallas-vegant-ee
Age: 30
Location: Melbourne, Australia

Profession: Vegan Restaurant Worker

1) Starting off easy, what is the best and worst background music for a vegan yoga punk getting his Namaste on? (Full disclosure, I prefer Krishna Das over pretty much anything else.)
Worst music for me is the shit that always gets played in classes.  Sometimes it’s some John Mayer sounding acoustic douche bullshit, sometimes it’s like some dance pop shit that may have some sort of “mystical” sounding shit added to it to make it seem deeper.  If I’m doing flow I’ll rock something fast as fuck maybe with some dude yelling posi shit over it, like Kid Dynamite or Shook Ones or something.  But if I’m chilling out, there’s nothing better than The Weakerthans.

2) Part of your story is the move from Michigan to Austin. How does sense of place affect what you do?


Dallas meeting Jim Schwartz, ex-head coach of the NFL’s lovable losers, the Detroit Lions

I moved from Michigan to Austin in May 2014, and since then have moved to Australia.  The thing is I am Michigan, I’ll take that with me anywhere I go.  Today I was checking the score on the Lions game on my break at work, I’m 10000 miles from Detroit.  But ultimately it’s good to bail for somewhere, I don’t even know if it matters where.  I tried to reinvent myself in Austin and I had a lot of successes, and here in Melbourne too I can try to be who I want to be.  No one knows I shit my pants in 1st grade, or I got too drunk to stand at Leedy’s party back in 2009, etc.  I’m just that 30 year old American dude who eats plants, lifts weights, drinks water, and is usually pretty positive.

Dallas loving NA beer and Aussie football

3) Besides yoga, what are your personal drug and alcohol-free recreational outlets?

I really don’t do much yoga, it was a huge part of my life a few years ago but going through teacher training kinda turned me off from the yoga scene.  I’ve been much more into weight lifting for the last few years, and since early last year I started playing Australian rules football.  Now it’s pretty much weightlifting a few days a week, some running to get in shape for playing Aussie Rules, and getting stoked to continue conditioning for the upcoming Aussie Rules Football season.

4) What pieces of art, music, literature, etc., inspire you?

I like anything that’s literal.  I haven’t read a piece of nonfiction in my adult life unless you count like old time philosophy stuff like epic tales.  I’m really in love with songs where the singer is very personable, like where most people think it’s uncomfortable.  I don’t want a metaphor that represents something, I want to hear someone sing about April 30th, 2004 when they watched a guy overdose on Heroin at a party in San Francisco, etc.

5) How do your closest friends and family members feel about your drug-free choices? 


This is The Year

Everyone who’s really close to me know I had a problem with booze, so me being sober for 3.5 years has been positive.  Almost everyone else are annoyed and blocked me on facebook, and that’s fine too.  And I’ve never smoked weed or done coke or pills or anything like that, so everyone has always been used to me not using illicit drugs, so I guess they’re cool with it.


Slushie Bong!

6) Why did you decide to be drug and alcohol-free?

I grew up around a lot of chain smokers, been at a couple grandparents’ lung cancer funerals.  My smallest and closest side of the family had an aunt who was in and out of rehab my whole life; our vacations were based around where she was in rehab.  Like she was in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan when I was 5 at rehab, so we had a family vacation to the Upper Peninsula to check her out for the day.  By the time I was about 8, I could tell when she was fucked up on heroin, and it scared me off.  I also had a lot of kids I grew up with start getting into drugs in middle school, and it always seemed stupid to me so I just never got into it. But for some reason alcohol always seemed like it was in a different category for me.  After being an alcoholic from the time I was a teenager until I was 27, I finally had too much and said never again, and I’ve been sober ever since.

7)  A couple years ago, I got an Om tattoo. I set an intention to live a less stressed out, less angry life. Yoga and meditation are, theoretically, a big part of that, although I find myself very inconsistent in practice. I also find that the calming effects of a good yoga session  wear off after a few days. Do you carry peace from yoga with you throughout your days? How important is a consistent routine?


Barefoot triathlon punk

My “yoga” is more like the yoga they talk about in the Bhagavad Gita.  I’m an atheist, but I appreciate a good lesson in a story and really dig the Bhagavad Gita.  So yoga in 2017 in the Western World usually means well to do White Women stretching out in $100 lululemon shirts made in Bangladesh, to burn off calories from the animal products and booze they just had.  So I think of yoga as the idea of serving god with your actions and losing attachment to the results of your actions. To me “serving god” just means trying to serve the world and make it less fucked up than how I found it.  So I try to stay peaceful internally, usually it’s done from exercise, or a good concert, or some good rest, or getting laid, or whatever.  Just something to help you feel good in a simple sort of way.

8) What are some of the best resources you’ve found for thriving on a vegan diet, especially for someone who travels as often as you seem to?


Dallas calling to say he doesn’t care about your city’s best artisan vegan sandwich

I really don’t read vegan cook books or anything, but I do hit up when I’m on the road or ask people what places I should hit up.  I keep it simple though, some people say “Oh, you’re in _________ city, you need to go to ________ diner and have the fried seitan veganaise bacon ranch sandwich.” And that’s really shit I don’t care about.  I want some oatmeal, bananas, beans and rice, a homemade smoothie, etc.  Keep shit simple and clean.

9) We talk a lot about family on this site. As a son, is there a message you’d like to send out to the people who raised you? Also, you’ve made a conscious choice to be child-free. I applaud that, as it’s a mindful, major decision. Do you foresee ever starting a family, through adoption, foster care, etc.?

I talk to my parents pretty often, and although I had a rocky relationship with them as a kid it’s really gotten better from learning to be accepting and forgiving.  We’re pretty open with one another and I’m thankful for that.  As far as my view on procreation goes (I’m expecting hate mail for this one), I think having children is selfish and extremely harmful for the world.  The reasons I had a vasectomy when I was 23 is the same reason I’m a vegan, to try to be less destructive to the earth.  There’s too many people on earth right now and we don’t need more people, especially while there’s millions of orphans on earth.  I’m not going to give someone shit for having kids though and I keep my opinion to myself usually, unless someone specifically asks what I think like here.  But I have no desire to have a family, it looks really expensive, time consuming and boring to me.  I like doing whatever the fuck I want all the time, and being tied down to anything would put a stop to that.

10) I appreciate the tongue-in-cheek nature of your Facebook page. The straight edge community needs more Good Clean Fun lyrics bandied about. How does humor play a part in your daily life offline?


Nobody Michigans harder.

“You have to have a sense of humor or life would be a major fucking bummer.” was a line from my old band This is the Year.  That’s just the truth, you have to be able to laugh at anything, especially the shit I really believe in.  Vegans, straight edge kids, punks, etc… we’re really easy targets, and I plan to constantly make fun of us.

11) Broadly speaking, what are your thoughts on religion, political ideology, or other philosophies? (Especially in the midst of this 2016 election year in the US)

Atheist my whole life, mathematics govern everything and there is no magic.  I used to be more hardline about thinking religion is always evil and stupid, but I guess now I take the approach that I’d rather hang with a Christian who is trying to be Christlike and make the world better than an Atheist who’s a fucking jerk off, even if I agree with the Atheist about how the world is made.  At the end of the day it doesn’t matter to me, god doesn’t affect my life in any way.  Politics I’d call myself a “Left-Libertarian” or “Libertarian Socialist,” but unfortunately the word Libertarian in the USA has been hijacked by the economic capitalists.  So I guess I come from the more Anarcho-Syndicalist background, anti capitalism, anti militarism, anti imperialism, the idea that we need to produce less, appreciate more, look out for one another, make sure everyone has everything they need.  I guess in a more practical- like what does the USA need right now- sort of way, I’m like a Bernie Sanders supporter and I donated towards his campaign twice, but he’s still too far right for me.  I used to be much more concerned with politics, but as an American citizen it’s hard… I have more of a “Fuck them all, I’m going to live my life” platform, unless there’s someone I truly think is on our side like Bernie.  I didn’t vote in 2016; I refuse to support the Democrats who are total sellouts to the working class.  To quote my Great Grandmother McCulloch (RIP) before the 2004 election, “I’m not voting until they put some Goddamn Socialists back on the ballot!”

Dallas giving respect to Fighting Bob, Wisconsin's Progressive Champion

Dallas giving respect to Fighting Bob, Wisconsin’s Progressive Champion

12)What pitfalls exist for drug-free men? How successful have you felt at overcoming them?

The only pitfall in being drug free is that it’s so normal to do drugs in modern society.  Like shooting heroin is frowned upon, but not wanting to get drunk for New Years is seen as being a prude.  So it’s a bummer that most people I know’s main hobby is getting drunk, but on the other hand they’re still usually cooler than the super uptight people who make up most of the straight edge and sober crowds.  I guess I don’t have any real answers besides be comfortable with yourself.


A kiddie pool and an NA brew. All you really need for Xmas in Australia.

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