‘Every Meal Is Satisfying to My Taste Buds, My Stomach and My Cells.’
At her darkest times, Kat Green envisioned a bright, happy life full of community, nature, nutrition, fitness and art. The picture in the mind of this now 24-year-old Toronto, Ontario, native and resident and author of three raw food recipe books has come true in perfect fashion, with her life abundant with these riches.
It was Kat’s viewing of a Simpsons episode—unbeknownst to her parents, who forbade her to watch this television show—at the tender age of 5 that inspired her to become a vegetarian. In this episode, Lisa becomes a vegetarian, and her choice as well as the entire vegetarian community are mocked.
“As a joke, cows were shown entering a factory on a conveyor belt and exiting as hamburger meat,” she said. “This did not strike me as humorous. In its profound simplicity, it remains one of the most personally powerful pro-vegetarian illustrations I have encountered. The scene called me, for the first time, to question what was on my plate. When I made the connection that I was eating the animals I know and love, I was horrified. From that day forward, I could no longer imagine contributing to the slaughter of any animal. Thus, meat was eliminated from my diet.”
Fast-forwarding to her late teens, Kat, then a “junk-food vegetarian,” began pursuing more dynamic health. She had been suffering from chronic headaches, persistent acne, excessive gas, severe depression and anxiety, and weight fluctuations, gaining and losing 75 pounds. She had also been attempting to stick to conventional dietary health guidelines, promoting a low-calorie and -carbohydrate diet. In managing these symptoms and following these guidelines, an eating disorder emerged. Kat had also been playing lots of sports, burning through calories.
“I was not taking in enough food from the right sources to meet my caloric and nutrient requirements,” she said. “This would result in periods of overeating in a futile attempt to satiate myself. Regardless of a fully stuffed stomach post-meals, I would never feel fulfilled. Enlarged intestines would leave me in great pain and in a desperate search for relief. I began to employ laxatives. This vicious cycle continued as I was always fighting my incessant sweet tooth and the preoccupation with food-related thoughts. I was diagnosed at different times with bulimia, anorexia and binge-eating disorder. However, the label I connected with most was ‘confused.’”
Kat also faced challenges as a busy high school student who was “overcommitted” to her studies, sports teams, extra-curricular activities and work. “… I was burning the candle at both ends,” she said. “I broke down. No longer could I participate in my own life. Struggling is not a strong enough word to describe the darkness that consumed me. In the morass of depression, anxiety and disordered eating, I lost so much. I wasn’t available to socialize with friends, school was out of the question, I quit my job, my romantic relationships were abandoned and my fitness crumbled. Most of all, during those four years of searching, I was losing my patience.”
Kat explored many resources, including support groups for those suffering from eating disorders as well as therapy sessions and outpatient treatment facilities. Wanting to learn how best to eat, Kat considered enrolling in an in-treatment program but passed on this idea after discovering that she’d have to consume pizza and macaroni and cheese. “Many ‘professionals’ in the eating disorder industry are well-intentioned but incredibly misinformed,” she said. “Because of their roles as authority figures, their desperate and vulnerable patients can be swayed to comply with absurd recommendations of foods and medications.
“Despite what the ‘professionals’ advised for me, I knew there was an answer that didn’t involve pills,” Kat continued. “My experience with doctors was incredibly patronizing—never feeling heard, being stamped with labels, treated like a number and prescribed cure-all drugs. In the darkness of these times, I felt very alone and moved to introspection. From this bloomed a new consciousness. I began to tune into what my core needs were. My journal was filled with words like community,” “nature,” “art,” “nutrition” and “fitness.”
Kat came across a YouTube video of one of Doug Graham’s lectures in 2009. It resonated with her so much that she went raw vegan the next day. Like some raw fooders, Kat found herself in the early going partaking in lots of gourmet raw meals, loaded with fat and salt. “I recognized that disordered eating patterns can be perpetuated by this approach,” she said. “I found myself gaining unnecessary fat and feeling unsatisfied, lethargic, stimulated, and addicted. I knew ‘gourmet raw’ was not a long-term plan.”
A year later, Kat read Graham’s The 80/10/10 Diet and learned about Natural Hygiene. “The darkness was illuminated!” she exclaimed. “My heart and my head were in agreement that a low-fat raw vegan diet in concert with the fundamental elements of health, were it. My own centering and journaling had prepared me to embrace this lifestyle with full confidence.”
On a fruit-based diet, all of Kat’s symptoms fell by the wayside. “I’ve found a new ease with eating where every meal is satisfying to my taste buds, my stomach and my cells,” she said. “The biggest change has been mental. My head is free of the planning, worrying and guilty thoughts that had once relentlessly swarmed my mind, leaving space for exploration of wonders of consciousness through meditation, art and relationships.”
Indeed, Kat was finally able to connect with herself once these blockages crumbled. “It was in this void, this internal universe, that bigger questions started to arise,” she said. “My dietary changes have been the catalyst for my personal spiritual paradigm shift.”
For Kat, eating and physical activity have become increasingly intuitive. “Whether it is picking out the ripest fruit, feeling desire to eat a certain plant or having inspiration to stretch, these are actions often made out of intuition, not out of a mind space,” she said.
As an avid traveler, Kat has learned to make exercise “opportunistic.” One year in two locations, she lived near swimming pools and swam sporadically. At another time, she lived in a jungle and focused on running, starting out with 5-mile runs and progressing to 8- to 15-mile runs. She also enjoys stretching, hiking, biking, canoeing, foraging, climbing trees, standup paddleboarding, acro-yoga, ultimate frisbee and volleyball.
“No matter the sport or intensity level, one thing remains consistent: I have always felt supported to pursue any activity while on a low-fat raw vegan diet,” Kat said. “When we eat for our biological needs, we will be supported to move in whatever way desired.”
Kat consumes two to three meals a day, with fruit comprising her early meals. She saves vegetables and overt fats for dinner. Kat said she once snacked throughout each day but moved to large, dedicated meals after discovering ill effects on her dental health.
“The consistent exposure to food sugars was damaging my teeth,” she said. “Now I love sticking with meals because it allows my digestive system time to rest, and I’ve become more in tune with the cycles of hunger and satiation. Mostly, I enjoy mono fruit meals as they often provide me the most satisfaction physically and mentally as I’m less likely to overeat or undereat.”
When it comes to fruit, Kat usually stocks up on apples, bananas, mangos, oranges, papaya along with celery, spinach, tomatoes and zucchini. She snatches up the exotic, seasonal and more expensive fruits such as apricots, berries, cherimoya, chicu sapodilla, jackfruit, mangosteen, rolinia and watermelon when available.
Kat said she’s been wowed by abiu, atemoya, chiku sapodilla, figs, Fuji apples, honey mangos, longan, mangosteen, pacific rose apples, persimmons, rambutan, rolinia, star apple, white nectarines and white peaches. She shares this list of favorite foods from her traveling experiences:
- California: Fuji apples, Valencia oranges and stone fruit
- Maui, Hawaii: starfruit, apple bananas, canistel and chicu sapodilla
- Europe: figs and watermelon
- Thailand: mangosteen and coconut water
- Costa Rica: rambutan and granadilla
- Barbados: tomatoes and papayas
- Ontario: blueberries and corn
- Big Island of Hawaii: rolinia, mamey sapote and atemoya
“Favorites are hard to talk about because I believe all fruit has the potential to be impressive—a potential optimized if grown locally, organically, in nutrient-rich soil and if eaten seasonally, fresh and with an open mind. Every fruit can be of phenomenal, favorite-dubbing caliber!” Kat said.
For dinner, Kat eats salads, lettuce wraps and noodle dishes made with a base of spiralized cucumber or zucchini noodles. She features some of her culinary creations in her ebooks Low Fat Raw Vegan Dinners, Low Fat Raw Vegan Recipes and Three Courses. Some of her favorite meals are Cheesy Rose Pasta, Corn Tacos, Jam Tarts, Pai Plate, Savoury Wrap and Spinach Soup.
Kat learned—and blood tests confirmed—that she suffered from food sensitivities to several kinds of nuts and seeds. She has phased many of them out of her diet, improving her digestion.
“I saw in retrospect that I had been overeating on nuts in an effort to satiate cravings that would otherwise be satisfied with simple fruits and vegetables,” she said. “Now if I desire overt fat, I will stick with soft coconut meat or avocado as it is most compatible with my digestion. On occasion, I may eat hemp seeds, walnuts or Brazil nuts.”
Moreover, Kat said that when living in a warm climate, overt fats are less appealing to her and that when in a cold environment, she is drawn to eat more fat.
Kat has enjoyed growing her own food, be it planting papaya trees in a backyard orchard or looking after an herb garden growing in a balcony in a city apartment. She also enjoys farmers’ markets and getting to know the folks behind the foods she eats. She has purchased fruits in bulk from wholesalers but prefers grocery stores and farmers’ markets because she gets to actually pick the fruit she’s going to eat.
Kat recounted a funny story in which a customer at her fruit stand at a farmers’ market told her that the fruit she picked for him turned out to be winners—much better than the pieces he selected. “You’re like a peach whisperer!” the customer told Kat.
Kat said that, even though she pursues locally grown foods at the best possible price, she won’t pinch pennies when it comes to appealing fruits. “I’ve observed in myself and others that with too many restrictions on a diet-lifestyle program, there is often an eventual burst,” she said. “Someone who is limiting themselves to eating 100 percent raw and locally, for example, might experience a breakdown and end up binging on something they would not have selected in a peaceful state of mind [such as] complicated processed foods, food that comes in a lot of packaging, ultimately costing them their health and causing more harm to the environment.”
Kat said she enjoys being thrifty and scouting out deals such as sales and discounts on bruised fruits. When she can, she also trades homegrown food with neighbors and offers to pick neglected fruit trees in her neighborhood, forages or participates in WWOOF, or World Wide Opportunities on Organic Farms.
Kat has gotten several blood tests, testing her Vitamin B12 levels, among others, while raw vegan and has never had any deficiencies. She has, however, come up on the low end for iron. “This makes sense to me as I often strongly crave greens like spinach, chard, kale and beet greens,” she said. “It shows me that I’ve honed my intuitive eating as even before these tests results I could feel my body smile when eating the aforementioned foods. I think it is more than coincidence that some of my most enjoyed foods—dark leafy greens, sun-dried tomatoes, green peas, broccoli, dried figs and strawberries—are of the highest sources of raw vegan iron.”
Kat does not supplement.
Kat is a certified nutritional practitioner who graduated from the Institute of Holistic Nutrition in Toronto after enrolling in the health educator program at Hippocrates Health Institute in West Palm Beach, Florida. “Of course, they don’t say a fully raw vegan diet is the way to go but do have a very open minded approach to health,” Kat said about IHN. “They highlight the benefits of a more plant-based, low-fat diet and encourage students to look at the holistic view of health rather than just targeting the symptoms.”
In addition to her books, Kat enjoys spreading the word about a raw food diet and other lifestyle aspects in her videos on YouTube, where she has a large following. She makes her “advice-style” videos in response to questions she receives as well as myths and misconceptions in the health world.
“I hear about a lot the struggles people are having with their diet and health, and I just want to say, ‘Hey, I know what you are going through! I’ve been there are and suffered myself doing it the hard way. Please learn from my mistakes and you won’t have to fall down into the same pitfalls,’” Kat said.
Watch Kat Explain How to Eat Socially on a Low-Fat Raw Vegan Diet
Kat also makes Raw VEGAbond Adventures videos, which evolved out of her passion to spread what she labels “pRAWpaganda.” “[This is] a way to positively ‘brainwash’ people with a message of health the same way commercials do this for unhealthy products,” she said. “I like these videos to be an advertisement for healthy living and to spark curiosity about Natural Hygiene. I want viewers to ask themselves, ‘What are my needs as a human being, and are they being met?’ This is often the first step to empowering oneself on a health journey.”
Kat’s creativity has blossomed out of her wanting to share photos and videos she shot with family and friends. “I was always seeing beauty around me and told myself, ‘I always want to live a life that is worthy of being photographed,’” she said. “I believe this is something accessible to everyone—whether it means changing your environment to one more inspiring or changing your perspective to see the magic in the simple moments of your current day-to-day.”
Feedback from these videos has been consistently positive. Many have re-evaluated their lives, adopting a healthier diet and/or pursued their desire to explore via travel. “Since adopting a raw vegan diet and taking on this fairly unconventional lifestyle, I’ve gotten closer and closer to my authentic self,” she said. “My effort to document what I learn or find beautiful has felt like a natural extension of that process.”
Watch Kat’s Raw VEGAbond Adventures Video on Maui in 2013
Outside raw food and health, Kat said she is turned on by anything visually art-related, including fashion, craft and graphic and interior design. “I love seeing others express themselves creatively,” she said. “The most inspiring work is conceived in a space of ‘no-mind,’ where artists allow for an energy to come through them, essentially turning nothing into something. How cool is that?”
Additionally, Kat enjoys listening to comedy, engaging in recreational play with others and excursions in nature. “I am passionate about community living and what that looks like on a local and global scale,” she said. “I enjoying employing the principles of permaculture and the practice of Nonviolent Communication to facilitate such community building. These practices also tie into personal development, a topic that will be my real life’s work. I appreciate any and all explorations of the mental, emotional and spiritual spaces.”
Wise beyond her years, Kat, who has enjoyed a “heart-led life,” said she’s learned not to attach herself to visions on the future when asked what she imagines she’ll be doing a decade from now. “I do know that I have a passion for health with a keen interest in mental, emotional and spiritual well-being,” she said. “I enjoy continually exploring these [areas] and supporting others with my findings. I see diet and recipes as a way to facilitate our growth in these areas—a way to take care of the physical body so that we can tend to the other parts of ourselves.”