In this inspiring interview Kelly Fielding shares her journey to, love of, and tips, for living a raw vegan life.
The proof is in the (raw) pudding – Kelly is one of Australia’s most talented raw vegan chefs and recipe creators. But don’t take our word for it, try your hand at one of her recipes here. Kelly also shared 3 secret recipes for our exclusive plant-based recipe book NOURISHMENT, that you can grab here (it’s free).
Having tried Kelly’s recipes over the last few years, we’re honoured to be able to share her story with you via through this interview – enjoy.
What inspired you to become a raw food chef (and how did you get there)?
After I finished university I went on a solo road trip to Byron Bay, and once I arrived there – I never returned to Melbourne! It was here that I was introduced to yoga and healthy living on a deeper level. I had practiced yoga before and I was already vegetarian, but in Byron Bay I got a job at a local health food store and moved in with a vegan couple and naturally, my lifestyle and knowledge evolved. After a year in Byron I started travelling and found myself in Bali, then Thailand, then San Francisco and it was in San Francisco that I was introduced to raw food! I started volunteering my time at Cafe Gratitude – I was so eager and excited to learn as much as I could. After my time in California, I returned to Australia and began working with a raw food company called Raw Power. From there, my journey just continued to evolve as I fell more and more in love with the the possibilities a raw food diet offered.
Do you eat a strictly raw food diet yourself?
For many years I have eaten 100% raw. Having said that, I’ve spent many years working in environments where raw food was easy and accessible all the time! So its been easy for me. My preference is a high raw diet, though in winter I will have some warm soups (like my broccoli & coconut soup) or cooked quinoa or steamed veggies. But I simply love smoothies and big salads! I also love the creativity of raw food, so I enjoy whipping up batches of raw granola and crackers, and keeping the fridge stocked with things like cashew cheese, salad dressings and hummus or other dips. And sweets of course! I love having a batch of bliss balls or raw chocolate in the fridge too. So being organised and having plenty of things on hand makes eating raw, or eating well, much easier.
How did your vegan lifestyle begin?
Funnily enough, I never liked meat as a child and when I was in my teenage years I decided to turn vegetarian. My mum of course thought I would grow out of it, thinking it was a trend, but I never did! When I moved in with the vegan couple I mentioned above in Byron Bay, that was when I evolved to a vegan diet. I was never really into dairy, and the transition was easy for me. I learned a lot about factory farming and the dairy industry and for me, once I learned the suffering and inhumanity of this industry, I wanted nothing to do with it and never looked back. That was ten years ago now and its even easier today with so many amazing dairy substitutes! Coconut yogurt and ice-cream, almond milk, cashew cheese – although I make most of my own, having access to such products is wonderful and a great stepping stone for people wanting to eat less dairy.
What do you say to people when they ask why you are vegan?
Initially, I turned vegan out of simple intuition – I didn’t like the idea of eating meat. It was some years later in fact that I began to really educate myself on how to have a proper vegan diet and the environmental and compassionate reasons for being vegan. Im a huge animal lover and I also try to live in a way that has as little impact on the earth as possible, so for me, being vegan is one of the best things I can possibly do. We often think that we are too small to make a difference, but that isn’t true. A vegan can save up to 6000 animals in their lifetime! And having a plant based diet is one the very best ways that we can help to reduce green house commissions, save water and prevent deforestation. The effects are real, immediate and long lasting. Even cutting back on meat and dairy has a huge impact – I always like to tell people that its important to simply live and eat as mindfully as possible.
How did you get into catering for health & yoga retreats?
I think one of the first events I catered was in Bali in 2009 with my friend from California, Elaina Love. I knew Elaina from my time in San Francisco and she was looking for an assistant to help her cater a month-long yoga teacher training in Ubud. I jumped at the chance and was on a plane a few days later! That month was one of the hardest, most enjoyable, rewarding and memorable months of my life. We had SO much fun and although we worked long hours (I mean long hours!) it was such a fun and positive time for me. I learned so much in that month and by the end I was so much more confident in the kitchen and my ability to provide food for a large number of people. So from there, I began to offer catering on my own. Elaina went on to start offering raw food trainings in Bali also after our time there together and continues to be one of the best raw food teachers in the world. I have a lot to thank her for and she continues to inspire me daily.
How conscious are you with regards to the nutrition of your meals?
Um, very! I believe that really that only reason that we eat is to fuel our body – when we break things down, thats what its all about. This doesn’t mean that eating can’t be delicious and fun though, and thats what I try to teach and show people. Even when we are providing our body with the highest possible nutrition, it can be creative and so enjoyable. People are always amazed at how tasty raw food actually is. I don’t believe in depriving the body – I do believe in offering the best possible option though. People tend to freak out a little at the idea of cutting out white sugar, meat, dairy, processed foods and so forth out of their diet, yet there really are healthy substitutions for everything. Most foods have a raw food equivalent from pizza to sushi to nachos and not only do the raw versions taste way better, they are actually feeling and nourishing your body at the same time. Once you see food in this light, I think it becomes easy to want to treat food as medicine, in a fun and creative way. I also find that once people do let go of heavier, acidic foods and introduce more raw and alkalising foods into their diet, the cravings they once had begin to disappear. Our bodies want this goodness! That is what they crave! So now, although I like to enjoy things like raw pizza or raw tacos on occasions, I really like eating simply and focusing on fresh, seasonal foods. I could very happily eat a huge mixed salad with raw hummus, fresh herbs, activated almonds, nori flakes, good sea salt and avocado for every single meal!
You’re passionate about food as medicine – what are some of your favourite remedies using nature’s medicine?
To me, its very obvious that we are meant to base our diet around what nature provides. Food isn’t meant to come from factories in cans or plastic. It is meant to come from the Earth! I love using ginger and turmeric. I love using fresh cinnamon and nutmeg. I love fresh herbs and chilli. It isn’t anything complicated, its really just about good quality, natural ingredients. The body knows exactly what to do with these foods and that symbiotic relationship is exactly how we stay well and balanced.
What are your 3 top tips for people who want to commit to a vegan lifestyle?
- My first tip would be education. I believe that once people really know about where their food comes from, its easy to make informed and compassionate decisions. There are some great documentaries out now that gently, yet powerfully, inform the audience exactly this – Food Matters, Cowspiracy and also Simply Raw. I love documentaries! They are a marvellous starting point for education and change.
- My second tip would be not to tell yourself everything you ‘cant’ have, but to look at all the fun alternatives you can have! Try things like cashew cheese and coconut yogurt. Try switching out butter for coconut oil and almond milk for dairy milk. Get creative and transform some of your favourite non-vegan meals into vegan meals. The internet is such a wonderful tool now and there are countless website that offer delicious and easy recipes for people wanting to try more plant-based meals (check out the NOURISH section of this website – most recipes are vegan-friendly).
- Thirdly, I would say start with changes that are sustainable. For example:
I guess overall, be open and try new things. The vegan world really is wonderful!
See also: GoodnessMe’s Awesome Vegan Boxes.
What’s an average day on your plate?
I always start the day with a big smoothie with banana, zucchini, pear, greens, maca powder, super greens and cinnamon- they change with the season but that is my ‘winter’ favourite! I put it in a bowl and top it with raw granola or dried fruit and seeds. For lunch, I’ll have a big salad and some raw crackers or sprouted bread with miso or cashew cheese. For dinner lately I’m having steamed vegetables with a tahini-turmeric sauce, tempeh and fresh greens. I don’t really snack much during the day but if I do its generally just fresh fruit or some veggies and hummus.
Where are your favourite vegan places to eat?
Well, all over the world! I still love Cafe Gratitude in California, in Bali I adore Clear Cafe, Avocado Cafe and Kafe, in Thailand I love Karma Cafe, The Sanctuary and Orion Healing. Here in Australia I love the Greenhouse Factory (Gold Coast), Naked Treaties (Byron Bay), Sadhana Kitchen (Sydney). I grew up in Melbourne so when I was at University I loved the Veggie Bar! But I would love to go back and try all of the amazing vegan places there now. Melbourne is the place to be for vegans!!!! Although, having said that, I’ve been so impressed and inspired to see so many healthy eateries open up over the last few years. I really do believe there is a growing shift and trend towards better ways to live and eat and people really are looking for and demanding better options. I hope that this is setting the path for an exciting ongoing and strengthening trend. With the concerns of the environment and the rising levels of poor health around the world, eating well and eating a plant based diet is indeed possibly the best thing you can do for yourself and the planet :).
Do you have a question about raw food or veganism for Kelly? Pop them in the comment section below.
P.S. Don’t forget to grab your copy of NOURISHMENT, a plant-based recipe eBook with 24 recipes by Australia’s leading holistic health experts including Kelly Fielding! Get your copy here.