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This Is Northern New South Wales


It may sound silly, but we need food to survive. This may strike you as a pretty obvious statement, but when you begin to analyse it, it becomes clear that many, many people in this world fail to realise this.

Three square meals may be masticated, ingested and digested, but generally it is nutritionally bereft, devoid of minerals and vitamins and about as far from its natural source as a Barbie Doll. Sure, it keeps us kicking, but how often do we get sick? How rapidly do our waistlines expand? Where did our boundless energy disappear to?

Bella & Bhakti’s Kelly Fielding knew from an early age that her attitude towards food and her approach to eating was a little different from other kids her age.

Bella & Bhakti

Rather than a fussy eater, it was as if some inherent preference for raw, fresh food, full of vitality rather than additives, existed within her. She craved salads and fruit, turned down fast food, sodas and lollies with distain, as if aware already of the rights and wrongs, the goods and bads on the sliding scale of nutrition. “I would always eat differently to my brother and sister. When we’d go to parties, mum would pack me my own lunch because I didn’t want to eat what the other kids were eating. I remember mum packing me these really beautiful salads to take to school. The teachers would always come over and say, ‘everybody, look what Kelly’s eating for lunch today’!”

By her early teens, despite her omnivorous family, she also shunned meat, unsure why exactly but inherently knowing that it wasn’t meant to be in her body. “I started making my own food and really enjoyed making meals for my family. As with the healthy eating, I never really knew why I was doing it, it was just my preference for what felt good and right for me.”

These first steps would shape the course of Kelly’s future. Her choices necessitated her involvement in the kitchen, they required her to scan ingredients lists and menus for options and products that would suit her dietary needs. It became a joy to discover new recipes, exciting cookbooks or cafes and restaurants that catered to her tastes.

When Kelly moved to the city to study, a whole new world unfurled. “Melbourne Uni had an amazing co-op, it sold bulk health foods and made the best lunches. I ate there every day for three years! It had that smell that health food stores have and really quirky characters like you see in Byron. I felt instantly at home there – I loved it.”

The co-op became Kelly’s sanctuary, a safe haven in which she could guarantee peace and nourishment. She had discovered a glimmer of the place she belonged, but surely there was more than this microcosm of nutrition and health? During an inter-semester break, she ventured north to Byron Bay, the town’s reputation drawing her in. As a vegetarian and a daily visitor to her yoga mat, Byron drew her in, so much so that her mid-semester break became a more permanent move, and Kelly transferred her final university year to Brisbane instead.

“When I moved up to Byron I started working at Fundies (the iconic Fundamental Food Store) and this was my first experience of making food on a large scale. I’d start at 7am and make pretty much everything; salads, patties, vegetarian frittatas and lasagnas. I was living with Anthea Amore (a local vegan chef) and her partner Casper. They were the first passionate vegans I had ever really met and they were a huge inspiration and influence on me. Anthea makes spectacular food! She can make the most meat-loving person enjoy a vegan meal. I learned so much from her.”

Despite discovering such an Eden for her unconventional ways, after a year in Byron Bay Kelly’s gypsy soul wouldn’t let her settle. Journeys to Thailand, England, America, Canada, Central America and Bali continually reconnected her to this way of life so familiar to many Byronians but rarely shared in the global community. The exclusive Sanctuary Retreat in Thailand, Cafe Gratitude in San Francisco, Gorilla Food in Vancouver, Punta Mona in Coasta Rica – paying her way around the world was also providing her an exceptional education. It also introduced her to the concept of raw food and a much deeper level of vegan possibilities than she ever knew existed. A month-long raw food certification in Bali added to her knowledge and skills and gave her a thorough grounding and confidence in what she wanted to share with the world. No longer was she looking at meals as mere fuel, suddenly, food was medicine – empowering and vitalising. Every property of every ingredient was illuminated, from protein-rich pulses to curative turmeric, iron-abundant seaweeds to invigorating cacao.


On returning to Australia, Kelly began working with the local raw food business Raw Ecstasy, making all the food for the busy weekly market stalls and assisting with workshops around the country, introducing people to the benefits of raw living cuisine. It was at these markets and workshops that she began to get the first inklings of feedback. Not the expected comments of how delicious her creations were, but how good it made people feel. Customers quizzed her on the dishes’ ingredients, their health benefits and nutritional value. People with health issues and ailments would come to her and ask advice, quiz her for suggestions on meal plans and lifestyle choices and she helped the best she could, staying at markets long after pack-down and checking in with regulars customers week to week. Switching to the busy Santos kitchen in Mullumbimby, Kelly began creating dishes for both the Byron and Mullum juice bars, introducing more raw vegan food and enjoying new scope with the wonderful abundance of local organic produce and working amidst such a supportive and enthusiastic community.

But wanderlust never sleeps.

Joining the festival circuit with her then partner, she began creating simple dishes and sweets for the hordes of revellers. Bliss balls, raw cakes, quinoa salads and zucchini pasta were all lovingly created in challenging conditions. No full kitchen or well-appointed trailer was at her disposal, but despite these adversities, her creations were overwhelmingly popular. “It started as a smoothie bar and when I started making food I just couldn’t keep up! I’d make two dozen zucchini pastas, I’d turn around and they’d be gone. We’d be out in the middle of nowhere and I’d have to go to the shops. I’d drive all the way back to the closest town, buy a whole bunch of ingredients, make up another two dozen and they’d be gone!’

Again, her clientele would tell her how wonderfully revitalising her food was. Bleary-eyed and delicate from the previous night’s partying, they would come to the stall in search of healing and nourishing cuisine. “We started getting a reputation. We’d turn up and people would say ‘we’re so glad you came!’ People just loved it. This was at festivals where people were partying pretty hard. They’d come to us in the morning and not be feeling amazing. We’d give them açai bowls and raw granola and chia seed puddings and get the most incredible feedback.”

Many of the festivals she attended were in the country’s north, not exactly health food central, and many of her customers were completely unaware of raw vegan, highly nutritious food that could be so nourishing. She began selling a hand-written booklet, not only with her recipes, but also educational information, outlining the benefits she had learned through her experiences.

After many months on the road, the Bay drew her in once again. Having previously connected with Naked Treaties’ Jemma Gawned, Kelly walked straight into a position at the company’s Raw Bar. Managing the marketing and social media for Naked Treaties, as well as igniting the Raw Bar’s breakfast and lunch menu, Kelly expanded her reach, now able to share her learning with not the few dozen people coming to her market stall but the thousands of customers and followers of Naked Treaties.

With an abundance of skills and talent, she began catering yoga, detox and rejuvenation retreats, gaining new clients through word of mouth and sharing her culinary offerings independently. “I love working in a kitchen at retreats and watching everyone enter the dining room, ravenous but also often emotionally tender. The food in these environments is so important – to nourish, heal, revitalize, comfort, inspire and connect people from all walks of life that are there under a common goal: to better themselves in some way. I always feel so privileged to cook for people in these environments and it is such a huge compliment at the end of a retreat when the guests come to thank you and say how you have helped change their lives.”

This was the birth of Bella & Bhakti. Since her childhood, through her years at university and on her meandering global wanderings, Kelly had been an almost fanatical writer. Vast swathes of learnings and musings clogged her computer, note books filled with pages and pages of recipes and discoveries filled her bookshelves. Bella & Bhakti became her outlet. What started as a Facebook page soon expanded into a blog, the blog to an ebook. More than just another food blog, Bella & Bhakti inspires a mindfulness. Yes, veganism is a strong message throughout the site, but Kelly also recognises that some people will always eat meat. And so she educates about being mindful in that decision, recognising the implications, to health, to the creature and to the planet – to be a conscientious consumer, whatever your palate.


Today, with an accumulation of life’s lessons and tribulations, it is Kelly’s passion and her mission to heal. Her past has shadows, dietary struggles from which she emerged by re-educating herself through food. Sharing her personal story, educating people in nutrition, helping people with eating disorders and challenging dietary requirements, Bella & Bhakti is Kelly’s voice, echoing the gifts she has been blessed with by a hundred kind souls she has met on her life’s path.

“When I sat down yesterday to post on Facebook that I had just released my first ebook, I started tagging a few people that I wanted to share it with and wanted to know had influenced me in my life and there were dozens of them. There have been so many people along the way, even in the smallest of ways, who have encouraged me and confirmed in me that this is what I’m meant to be doing, that this is what I have to share.”

Common Ground welcomes Kelly Fielding to the fold as our new Health and Wellbeing editor. Kelly will be posting regularly to our pages as she continues to grow and expand Bella & Bhakti.

Join Kelly on Facebook and Instagram, or follow her blog, sign up for her newsletter or purchase her new and wonderfully inspiring ebook at

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