Plants for the People: Kathy Patalsky

New season, new recipe! We're diving into summer with our second guest chef in our "Plants for the People" collaboration series. Meet Kathy Patalsky, blogger and cookbook author of Happy, Healthy Life. We sat down with Patalsky to ask her some serious and not-so-serious questions. Read on to find out how a baby chick changed her life, her random yet amazing Italian discovery, and why she'll be dancing till the world ends.

1. How did your plant-based journey start, and what was your Aha moment?

I have always leaned towards being vegetarian, ever since I was a little kid picking the pepperoni off my pizza and refusing to eat the meat part of my dinner plate. My love of animals was what first drove me towards avoiding meat. It never made any sense to me. So I was a vegetarian in high school and college and then one day I was making scrambled eggs and “eggs” just suddenly made no sense to me. Why am I eating this? I guess to say that I was grossed out by eggs is a slightly immature view, but I guess that is what my Aha moment was. A few years later, as I still bounced between vegan and vegetarian, a co-worker showed me the PETA video of all the little boy chicks being crushed to death on a conveyer belt. That really did it for me. I just didn’t want ANY part in the cruel factory farming world.

2. What vegan stereotype would you like to break?

That all vegans are judgmental of non-vegans. The choice to go vegan is such a personal thing. We all have very unique stories about our wellness lives, diets and relationships with animals and the earth. Eating is so much more complex and cultural and soulful than we usually like to admit in this society. For some people, giving up certain foods is challenging for all sorts of diverse reasons. Most vegans do respect that. Obviously I wish the entire world was vegan, but I also see mainstream eaters making small changes like Meatless Monday, or giving up dairy, or trying a plant-based protein, or eating more organic salads and less junk food. I see those small changes, and I have so much respect for them, whether they are 100% vegan or not. I certainly didn’t start out vegetarian so I understand how challenging it can be to break away from all the foods you know and love. But the world is changing every day and more plants are on the plate. That is a very good thing!

3. What is the one piece of advice for the veg-curious and plant-based newbies?

Find a buddy. I have found that for people who live outside of major cities where veganism is no big deal, their greatest challenge can be feeling left out. So I would encourage you to reach out and find a veggie buddy! Someone who you can talk to about veg options and hang out with in person to feel less alone once in a while. How to do this? Ask around, make an effort, reach out and don’t feel silly doing it. Find a buddy and I promise, going vegan will feel a lot less daunting and challenging, and maybe even a little fun!

4. What do you want people to remember about you?

That I love animals with a passion. All animals. That compassion I have for those sweet, innocent creatures stretches into all parts of my life-my relationships, my work and my own joy for life.

5. If you were an animal, what creature would you be?

I think I would be a sea creature since I love the ocean so very much. But I also love the sunshine and playing in the waves, so I will go with dolphin or sea turtle. Both animals I adore.

6. Theme song of your life?

Haha, don’t you dare ask me a music question, because you will get some pretty silly answers, from my love of Britney Spears, Broadway shows, and Disney movies, with a little 90’s pop and alternative in there too. So go on and roll your eyes, but I’m going to go with “Dancing Till the World Ends” by Britney.

7. Proudest moment?

Seeing my first book, 365 Vegan Smoothies, translated into Italian, in a giant bookstore in Florence Italy. I hadn’t slept in like 36 hours, I was exhausted and we were wandering the streets when we popped into this shop. I saw my book and felt crazy proud.

8. Describe a meal that sparks a happy memory?

Rainbow sherbet ice cream. My mom always served it on my birthday growing up, because there was a big rainbow in the sky on the day I was born. Actually, I haven’t found a stellar vegan version of classic rainbow sherbet…so maybe I’ll put that on the list.

Ready to taste some of Patalsky’s meals for yourself? Try her Sweet Potato Chili!