Kathy Patalsky is the creator of the lifestyle Blog "Healthy. Happy. Life." and is the author of two Cookbooks, 365 Vegan Smoothies and Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen. Kathy is also the founder of the popular website FindingVegan.com. Kathy's recipes and photography work have been featured in Saveur, BuzzFeed, LATimes, CNN, VegNews, Channel 8 Newhaven, Ladies Home Journal, TheKitchn, NPR.com and more. Her blog is a merging of her favorite things: art, food, wellness, animals, travel, style, photography, nature and community.
She was born in 1981 and grew up in Santaluz, California. She finished high school in 1999, where she sang in choir, loved English and Creative Writing and adored drama-
"- and any stage I could hop on. Talent show? Yes please! And I totally remember things like VCR's, beepers, Madonna in her prime, watching Titanic about seven times in theaters (it is still my favorite movie ever) and Justin Timberlake when he was still just my favorite member of *NSYNC. I also remember the first website I ever created in the early 2000's .. a fan page for 90's TV shows like Saved by the Bell and Full House. Yup. I followed that up with a website called Britney's Comeback. No, I am not kidding. I made it on TMZ folks. Oh and I know all the moves to the "Oops I did it Again" dance."
She says that in the city she grew up in there’s lot’s of farmers markets and fresh markets, so she was surrounded by good food. She always loved animals naturally, hence she became a Vegetarian as a kid on her own. That evolved over the years and in college she switched over to becoming Vegan, because she started a job at an Animal cruelty Non-profit where everyone working there was vegan.
"So one day my boss asked me, “you’re vegan right?” And I was like “oh yeah, I’m vegan.” I kinda of just said I was because I wanted to be, but I didn’t even know what it meant. So I just fell into calling myself a vegan."
When she was in college she was working with kids as an education specialists for the national zoo, she she was constantly surrounded by children and was teaching them about things that involved animals and the environment. She wanted to do something that was her own project that involved food though, so she started creating random little certain veggie characters and she thought it was a fun way to start a conversation about food. After getting married, she moved to New York City and dropped out of grad school. It was 2006 and she didn’t have a job. At that time blogging was just getting momentum so she decided to try it out and began posting photos and recipes on the internet. She wanted to merge her passions: writing, art, animals, food and nutrition. In time vegan cooking has become much more popular and sought-after after she created a children’s brand called the Lunchbox Bunch.
"I studied nutritional sciences and art school when I was younger and I had a passion for art which had been put on the back burner. The first year I was in New York I randomly drew these fruit and vegetable characters and went on to publish two children’s books. I didn’t have a “real” job, so I had time to work on this project.It was great – I would go to Whole Foods and read my books to children. I would interact with kids and try to get them to embrace fruits and vegetables and overall, be more healthy."
All the income she was getting was from the blog. She had t-shirts and books available for sale, and she also had some income coming in from google advertising. Her posts would go viral.
"However back then it didn’t take much! Looking back, my photos and content was ok, but it wasn’t great. It’s funny to see what went viral back then."
Her personal blog really bloomed in 2007–2008. She started Finding Vegan in the summer of 2011.
"I started it because at the time I was a food blogger, and I loved sites like Foodgawker which do the gallery style collection of recipes. And I thought there needs to be something like this but just for vegan recipes so people can see in one screen how many vegan recipes are out there."
In 2013 she published her first book: 365 Vegan Smoothies: Boost Your Health With a Rainbow of Fruits and Veggies, and in 2015 she published her second book: Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen. In the same year she also launched the Finding Vegan App.
"I wake up, and I run to the computer and I start working on my other website, . That involves editing through the hundreds of submissions that are received daily. That’s work that just has to get done on a daily basis, so I’ll do that type of thing, and then I’ll do a lot of social media work. Once I’m done with all the stuff that has to get done in the morning when everyone is offline, then I’ll start to dive into my creative work, which is being in the kitchen, using my camera and working on any creative projects that might be going on. I’ll basically just hop around from social media to my projects and whatever I’m currently working on until my husband gets home. I don’t have a commute, so I do work long hours. I do try to schedule things outside of my house at least once a week, just so I get out [and] I’m talking to other bloggers and other people. I am a one-woman show. I do all my own social media, I do all my own emails with brands. It’s a lot."
Kathy in a striped sweater
She was named Kathleen with a “k” after her father’s mother. Her mom always said she never met a Kathy she didn’t like.
"I liked it. I was never really called Kathleen. Always on the first day of school the teacher would call roll and say Kathleen and I would immediately say, “No, it’s Kathy!” So when I got older I tried to do the Kathleen thing but it just never fit me very well. I guess I always thought Kathy was a very friendly name. And I always liked that it was spelled with a K. Not to offend any of those Cathy’s with a “C”!"
When she got married she changed her last name, Fena- Italian surname.
"It’s always been a very unique last name because I don’t really meet Fenas unless they’re part of my extended family. It was really hard to let go of that last name because I loved it so much. My sister actually kept it after she got married. I loved that last name too, but it’s gone now!"
Her dad’s parent’s actual last name was not Fena though, because when they came over on the boat, they had to think of a name that was easy to spell and for people to understand. They thought they liked the word Fine and that resulted in Fena- they made it up!
"People usually would pronounce it “feh-na” instead of “fee-na” and so I always had to correct them."
Her husband's surname is Polish, which reminds her of her mother's Polish roots.
Her passions include art, food, wellness, animals, travel, style, photography, nature and community, and her blog merges all of them.
"I love snowstorms, farmer's markets, sunshine and smoothies, matcha lattes, waffle brunches, the ocean, rainy days, hot cocoa, movie nights, foggy mornings, snuggly clothes, pink sunsets, animals, the outdoors, travel, spa-ing, yoga, my girlfriends, my husband, family, my Vitamix, Broadway shows, dancing to Britney Spears music, tennis, Disneyland and daydreaming and all things cozy and happy, nerdy and silly too."
- 365 Vegan Smoothies (2013)
- Healthy Happy Vegan Kitchen (2015)