After spending the better part of one day watching Plant-Based Kate’s YouTube channel and reading her entire blog, I know I am going to change my life.
I’ve been so absorbed in her videos that I’ve forgotten to eat lunch but I’m fizzing with energy as I bounce out the door for a run. I feel energised, I feel excited, I feel inspired, and it is a rare and beautiful thing. Within a fortnight I have enlisted my husband and we have decluttered the entire house (two car-loads of ‘stuff’ that went to the Salvation Army), reduced our household meat consumption by 50%, stopped buying any non-free-range animal products and started doing a few sun salutations in the morning. It feels good all over, it feels right, it feels like evolution.
Kate’s messages are nothing new to social media and indeed nothing new to humankind—veganism, mindfulness, minimalism, well-being and following your bliss. Yet somehow in a sea of health and lifestyle bloggers Plant Based Kate’s message is the one that has reached through the slumber and woken me up. And it’s not just me who thinks there’s something special about Kate, her thousands of YouTube, Instagram and Facebook followers agree.
In September 2015 at the advice of a friend, Kate watched the documentary Forks over Knives and quite simply: it just made sense to her. Once she became aware of the health benefits of a plant-based whole foods diet, as well as the impacts of animal agriculture on the environment and well, animals, Kate took what felt like the only natural next step to a vegan lifestyle. She took to the internet to learn as much as she could, making the transition over the space of a month. Her acne cleared up, her energy increased, her gassiness and bloating went away, but deeper more unexpected benefits followed, such as just, “feeling so good about yourself making the choice everyday to make a difference, to cause no harm to animals and to save the environment one meat-free meal at a time.”
It is not an exaggeration to say the choice to go vegan changed Kate’s whole life. Not only did going vegan lead to an overall healthier lifestyle but wanting to share her new-found passion lead this self-described introvert undertaking a ‘30 videos in 30 days challenge’ which she credits with enabling her to find her voice, and how lucky for us that she did.
Now a veritable YouTuber, Kate has over one hundred videos on her channel, not to mention running the facebook group, The Plant Based Collective, and regularly posting to all her other social media sites for our daily inspiration. The difference with Kate is it’s not just pics of her glowing and looking gorgeous (though she does), and it’s not just tips to live a healthier happier life (though they’re definitely in there too), it’s Kate, being her true self, documenting and sharing her personal and spiritual journey as she learns, grows and figures it all out.
What was the beginning of your journey becoming vegan like?
At the time my partner was supportive even though he wasn’t vegan. None of my friends or family were vegan and I’m still one of the only ones in my group of friends who are vegan. It was such a foreign thing at the time, it was not seen as cool at all. I was in Wellington where it wasn’t too hard to be vegan but going back to Cambridge where I grew up it was like, “There’s nothing here!” Moving away from my hometown helped me grow a lot but every time I’d go back I’d just get shit about it. I still do, even to this day! But my sister and my mum have since gone vegan and my brother eats heaps of vegetarian meals now, which I thought would be impossible!
You are currently living in the Northern Territories in Australia, tell me more about the job you are doing?
So, I’m in a little town called Numbulwar, which only has a population of 400, and I’m running the school nutrition programme for the local school, which includes organising all the meals, doing the meal prep and supervising the actual cooking, and at the same time I’m cooking the food for the canteen as well, so I’m running back and forth between buildings!
You’re feeding the whole town! Are you primarily making vegan and vegetarian food?
Yeah, the school runs from primary school up to high [school] and serves all the children in community. My goal is to introduce healthy foods to the menu, not strictly vegan or vegetarian, but to introduce more fresh foods as the prior menu was primarily meat, carbohydrate and packet vegetables. When I first started I had to use all the food that was already there, but now I get to do a bulk order every fortnight which is great.
How have the menu changes gone down?
Luckily, the kids will pretty much eat anything so long as it’s tasty!
What was it that made you want to put your passions and beliefs out into the world via online channels?
It all really started with going vegan, it ignited a passion inside me that I didn’t really know I had. It enabled me to find my voice and spread my message about wellbeing and veganism. It kick-started a whole healthier lifestyle for me and I wanted to share my experiences. It’s also a really good way for me to process my thoughts and everything I’m going through, I find people get a lot of value from sharing myself honestly as well, so I just kind of share my experience growing as a person and what I’m learning, I find that really cool too.
You stand out as being very authentic and genuine, and while these qualities are sometimes used as a marketing tool these days there’s a really different feel when it’s real.
That’s all I could ever hope to do, I just want to show up and live a really authentic and inspiring life for myself in order to inspire others to do the same.
Is it your hope that everyone in the world would go vegan?
Yeah definitely, that everyone would be vegan, and that there would be no suffering.
Do you believe that nutritionally that would be right for everyone on the planet?
I think so, as long as everyone is listening to their own bodies. When it comes to veganism, there are so many sub ‘diets’ underneath veganism as well. So it’s really about trying different things and seeing what’s right for your body. Like you can do high protein low fat vegan, or high carb vegan. And then a lot of people, when it comes down to it, aren’t eating enough food in general, or they’re eating unhealthy food. It’s really easy to be vegan and unhealthy. You really do have to have the willpower if you are going to be vegan because of the convenience factor with non-vegan foods. I know some people try being vegan and decide they don’t like it. [...] [In] the end I think you should be doing anything you can to cause less suffering in the world. It’s about making the little changes in your life as well, like introducing a couple of vegan meals a week if you don’t want to go fully vegan, even just for the planet and what you’re doing for the ecosystem, just by having a couple of vegan meals a week, vegetarian even. We can all do a little something.
In your blog you talk about ‘intuitive eating’, can you tell me more about that?
I think it’s just about listening to your body. A lot of people, so many that I talk to, are binge eating, or regretting things that they’re eating for no reason, and I’m like, ‘but you wanted that, just have it, it’s absolutely fine.’ If you’re eating healthy 80% of the time you’re more than welcome to have a treat because it’s just about balance. And also changing your thinking around food and viewing it as a positive thing. As this beautiful substance that gives us fuel to live and function, instead of thinking of it as a chore or constantly stressing about it, so many people stress about food.
Do you think the body positivity movement has provided a helping hand in growing the vegan movement?
Yes, I think so, for one because some people who may have had a difficult relationship with food go on to be vegan and it can help them to transition into eating healthily because you can eat in abundance when eating a plant-based diet without feeling guilty. Plants are a lot less calorie dense compared to meat and dairy, so you do need to eat a lot! In fact, that’s something you need to be aware of when you become vegan.
There seems to be a real movement towards veganism at the moment, what do you think is going on?
Itt seems like there is a global shift going on towards healthier living and organic living, it’s really good, I think plant-based living was rated the 2018 trend of the year! It is really cool, I find the new generation is really conscious of it [largely] because of technology—instead of just getting fed [...] information from the large corporations that want to sell you things, you can [now] be inspired by [real] people on the internet, [instead of just] being fed advertisements and information from [the media].
You use the moniker Plant-Based Kate, does plant-based mean the same thing as vegan to you?
Yeah, I use both terms because I think they’re pretty much the same. Some people might differentiate and say that plant-based means eating only whole foods, because you can be an unhealthy vegan and be eating a lot of processed foods. But in a general sense I would say they are the same thing. Also, if I want to talk to someone and be a little subtler I will use the words plant-based to keep the focus on health, because plants are healthy right? You can’t deny that.
Did yoga and veganism spring up at the same time for you?
I’d actually always done yoga on and off as my fitness routine changed and fluctuated, but veganism kick-started my spiritual journey tenfold. I always knew I should be meditating, my mum was always like, “you should meditate Kate!” or “you’re only sick because there’s something going on in your head.” And I was like, “nah, my emotions don’t affect my physical body!” (laughs), but no, it’s all connected. So that sort of brought yoga more into my life after going vegan. Like for a lot of people who go vegan, living such a compassionate lifestyle opens you up to a whole new world really.
You also promote the message of minimalism, another movement that is gaining popularity, I really loved watching your minimalism videos, what made you click to minimalism?
The very few minimalism videos that I do have are my most highly viewed videos, people love it, I need to make more of them! I’d heard of minimalism but then I watched the movie Minimalism and that’s what got it all going for me. That afternoon I cleared out, I think it was 60% of my clothes. That’s what started it all, and then my partner moved from our own little apartment to go live in a caravan to save to go travelling, and from there we went to living out of my 40 litre backpack!
What do you find are the main benefits of minimalism?
You don’t stress out as much because everything has its place. When it comes to minimalism how far you want to take it is different for everyone, but you need to be able to open up your closet and not feel stressed about finding something to wear for starters. With minimalism you’ve got like, ten items that you really, really love, and you pick one! Rather than sifting through things and stressing out that you don’t have anything to wear. Or you open your cupboard in the kitchen and everything has its use rather than something you don’t need just sitting there. It’s such a liberating feeling, when you clear up a place in your life you clear up the space in your mind really. It’s freedom. It really just allows you to have so much more energy for other things.
And are you managing to maintain a minimalistic lifestyle?
I have indeed. Sometimes it’s difficult, Bali got me especially, I was like, “oh my gosh there’s so much cool stuff here, I need this, and I need this….” But then after a little while I was like, “hold on, I really don’t need another bikini, I’ve got one.” It is just about only having stuff in your life that brings you value, or that you really really love.
So, if someone was to declutter say, their wardrobe, is that the question they should ask of each item?
Yes, you should only own things that you really love or that are useful. Also ask yourself when was the last time that I actually wore this item. I would say if you haven’t worn something in a year, which is every season, then you don’t need it. Of course there is some stuff that you hold on to for sentimental reasons, like I had a jersey that used to be my pops, I kept that because it was sentimental, you have to give yourself that, you’re human.
Tell us about your travels, you are setting off on a world trip?
My partner and I set off travelling last August. Since then [we] have gone our separate ways, on really good terms, we’re still the best of friends, but he wanted to return to New Zealand to study naturopathy. I’d come to Australia to see my sister in Sydney for a little while, but I wasn’t really enjoying it [in Sydney], so I’ve come here and then I was going to continue on. My plans are relatively the same, but I am going to go back to India to do more study. I loved it there so much, I feel like India is my soul’s home. I always wanted to go there my whole life and I just loved it. I feel really called there. We had so much fun in other countries, but I didn’t get the feeling of warmth that I did in India.
From the outside India seems like the kind of place that could be quite challenging to be in?
I think people who go to India know what it’s going to be like so they’re expecting it, and they’re probably the kind of people who are going to like it. But apparently you can go to India multiple times and have a completely different experience each time because it’s just such a crazy place. You’ve just got to welcome it with open arms.
Are you going back to carry on your yoga training there?
Yeah, I’m going to go back and do my 300-hour yoga training. I will go back and study Hatha vinyasa. Hatha is the original form of yoga. There are so many modern forms of yoga now like ashtanga, iyengar [and] vinyasa. With ashtanga, there are definite steps to take in order to complete a sequence in a class, but with Hatha you’re more open to do other things, the focus is more on balancing the body, your sun and your moon nadis, using your breath and asanas. I’ve also been thinking lately I would love to go live in an Ashram when i’m back in India for a few weeks or so.
Your morning routine includes yoga, breathing and intention setting. What would you recommend someone who was really busy do that would bring the most benefit to their mornings?
First of all, wake and do some mindful stretching and movement, just feel what your body needs and actually stretch—mindful movement for ten minutes [like] sun salutations or something like that. Then meditation, that’s the hardest one obviously, but if [you] can sit for ten or even five minutes of breathing and being with [yourself], that is really important. If you don’t feel like you’ve got time to meditate, even stopping for ten deep breaths is really good.
Did you learn to meditate via a particular method?
I just came to it myself. I used to use guided meditations on YouTube, which I found especially good for intention setting and mantras, where you’re just getting walked through it so your mind’s not wandering away, but now I find it a lot better just sitting and concentrating on stillness and my breath.
People can think of meditation like a chore, but I found I got addicted to how good it made me feel!
Yeah that’s what happened for me too. And especially with yoga, it gives you such a high and just changes your whole day how you deal with stressful situations, with people and your mindset.
You talk about mindfulness in your blog as well, what does it mean to you?
For me mindfulness is just being in the moment, doing something in its entirety. Actually, another thing I would recommend you can do in the morning is to sit and eat breakfast mindfully, without your phone. It’s a such a great way to start the day. Just doing anything and trying not to think about another thing. Multitasking is important at times, but when you can, when you’re doing something, just do it totally and don’t worry about what you’re doing the next day or in the next five minutes, just be there now. It’s a really good option for people who don’t like to meditate as well, it just allows you to really focus on the now.
I went to a mindfulness course one day and they got us to eat a mandarin as slowly and mindfully as possible and it was the most beautiful thing I’d ever tasted in my life.
Yeah really chewing your food well and noticing it, because how amazing is that mandarin really, grown from the earth, it’s so cool to think about!
A really common problem we all have with mindfulness is how much we use technology, especially our smartphones.
Yeah and that’s something I’m always reminding myself and really struggle with because I’ve always got so many notifications going off on my phone and I’m tempted just to check them, but I think setting yourself times to do these things on your phone is really key to not having to check your phone all the time. For me it’s setting aside half an hour to communicate with people and reply to comments. Also, I make it a priority not to go on my phone until I am ready to start my day properly, because you need to be alone with your own thoughts first before hearing the opinion of everyone else in the world.
You obviously have to upkeep your online presence, how do you make that manageable?
I really think it’s just time management when it comes down to it. I used to feel like I needed to do a lot of things online, but nowadays if I don’t have time and I’m doing something else in real life then that takes priority, and not feeling bad for not being able to do certain things online and not letting it take over your life, mainly it’s just time management.
Is the goal of your online presence to fund your travel?
Yes, I love manifestation as well, so I am working on manifesting that, manifesting whilst also taking inspired action! But I more so do it because I absolutely love it and if that’s something [that] happens then that’s fine by me! I am making a little bit but it’s just pocket money at the moment.
From a technical point of view what equipment would a person need if they are going to be travelling and recording and uploading content?
Yeah, I will just quickly show you if that’s alright? I use a Canon G7X mark 2, it’s got a flippy screen and a tripod, which is really good, so I can hold it out and set it down. It’s not a big fancy camera, it’s nice and little and compact. Some bloggers have big crazy cameras, but you just don’t need it. It really is true that it’s not about the equipment it’s about the content, some people blog from their phone. Then I’ve obviously got my laptop and my hard drive which is a terabyte. I actually dropped it the other day and I’ve had to send it away to get fixed, so I can’t access anything, but that’s alright! I’ve learnt to deal with things like that, once upon a time I would have really let that get to me.
You got started vlogging by doing 30 videos in 30 days, where did you get that idea? How did it help you get started?
It was a trend going around on YouTube, people would do 30 videos in 30 days or do ‘vlogmas’ and blog the whole of December until Christmas and I thought what a better way to teach myself both talking to the camera and editing. Each video takes about four hours of editing, it was just really good, I’d stay up late editing away and getting used to talking to the camera. I used to be a really shy person and vlogging has helped me find my voice incredibly.
Hey Kate, just to keep it real with readers and acknowledge that all of us have our stuff to deal with, can you share something that is a struggle for you?
One thing I’d always struggled with and still do struggle with is just being confident. I’m so confident talking to a camera now, but even in person I still feel nervous and struggle finding my voice. I’m really empathetic too so I’m good at fitting into situations, but I still struggle with standing my ground and speaking my opinion. Just knowing that I am good enough.
What’s one way you deal with that?
I’m really big on mantras so I just literally say to myself, “I am good enough, I am enough, I am confident,” and also breathe—three deep breaths really centres you, it just calms you down when you’re stressing out or feeling nervous in situations.
You are really inspiring for me and your other viewers, who is inspiring or has inspired you?
Travel wise, Lost Leblanc, he’s a travel blogger, he travels, has fun, he was just so inspiring to keep me on track saving to travel. Veganism wise Raw Alignment is kind of like healthy lifestyle raw vegan, she is really inspiring about following your passion and Bonnie Rebecca, she’s kind of a pioneer of veganism on YouTube. Then at the moment I’m getting way more into podcasts because I can do other things whilst listening to podcasts, so my top two would be Sahara Rose, whose book I’m reading at the moment, her podcast is called the Higher Self Podcast, it’s all about Ayurveda and spirituality, I feel like I’ve never resonated so much with what one person has said in every aspect, and the second one would be Your Own Magic which is by Allie Michelle and Racquel Mantra and that is about spirituality as well. Allie Michelle is like 20 or something crazy but she is the oldest soul I’ve ever listened to, she is so full of knowledge, it’s incredible.
Can you also share with us what your all-time favourite food recipe is, the one you cannot live without?
It’s not a recipe as such, it’s just oatmeal. Nothing exciting at all, but it’s amazing, super cheap, you can have it on the road, you can have it hot or cold, you can have it with so many different combinations, you can bake with them, blend them and put them in a smoothie…also peanut butter, chia seeds, bananas and blueberries, ideally in combination is great!
I know you really love music as well, can you tell us who you are vibing on at the moment and recommend a track people could listen to?
I love Trevor Hall, Satsang, Krishna Das & Tubby love and the first song that comes to mind is All Ways Love by Tubby Love
To watch and find out more about Kate, follow her YouTube Channel. I recommend her most viewed video on minimalist packing for inspiration to throw it all in a bag and go… and any of her what I ate in a day videos to see some lush, inspiring vegan meals. You can also join Kate on Instagram @plantbased.kate or her Facebook Group, The Pant-based Collective.