A heart-to-heart with Hitomi Mochizuki

Radiating love and all sorts of good vibes, Hitomi Mochizuki (Instagram: @yaknowme_hitomi) is a 20-year old vlogger/influencer from New York City best known for her personable lifestyle YouTube videos. Fighting a tumultuous battle with mental illnesses and suicidal thoughts over the last few years, Hitomi turned to spirituality and her social media platforms to share every moment of her journey.

From breathwork to meditation, yoga and veganism… and even fashion – both Hitomi’s YouTube and Instagram has become a regular habit for her over 420,000 followers across both platforms, with subscribers tuning in to see her open and honest accounts on life.

With Hitomi continuing to spark positivity and inspiration for her social media community, we spoke with her to understand more about her life, passions and everything else in between…

What was your life like before being a Youtuber and how has it changed?
Before YouTube, my life was filled with sadness, instability and loneliness. It wasn’t the platform itself that shifted this, but the ability to share my feelings so candidly and connect with so many others struggling with mental illness. I never imagined so many people were dealing with low self worth, fear and PTSD in their daily lives. The YouTube community I have created around my channel has made the world seem less scary and opened my eyes to the amount of love that can be realised in vulnerability.

Although I post a lot about ethical fashion, veganism, and art, the most rewarding and soulful videos have been my candid heart-to-hearts. I think for every YouTuber or influencer there is a feeling of being seen and heard that makes it slightly easier to walk through life, because at the end of the day, that’s what most of us want to be understood. My life now is filled with a yearning to observe what exists inside in my mind, in my soul and to confront all of those things with equanimity. Then of course, to create some kind of art from it.

The biggest thing that changed is my ability to accept how I feel, even if I’m unhappy or indifferent, that’s okay and valid. Sharing my story has made it feel less like something that I’m a victim of, and more of a happening. A witnessing of the good and the bad. All in all, my perspective has changed drastically and I feel so much love from the collective.

Can you talk us through a typical day in your life?
A typical day in my life looks like waking up around 4am and staying in bed until 5am. Getting out of bed and doing my tantra hatha yoga practice, mediation, and finishing it all off with a cup of tea. Either ginger, mushroom or chai. YUM. I like to ease my stomach into digestion and warm it up first. Then I love to write in my planner. I find so much ease of mind writing down what I have to get done, meetings, events and to-dos. Plus, I like to make it super cute with stickers and coloured pencils.

My go-to breakfast will either be leftovers from dinner because I love eating dinner for breakfast or some yummy oats with tons of toppings. I go to the studio space where I work and manage social media for companies and also get to squeeze in edits for my own videos. I spend most of my time there and usually eat a home lunch consisting of a kale veggie burger, a salad of some sort and rice or quinoa. I have phone meetings for brand deals. I edit. I watch the sunset. I come home with my lover and we talk about our day. Either cook or go out to dinner. And one of the best parts cuddling in bed, staring in each other’s eyes, laughing, feeling, being.

What made you decide to switch to a sustainable lifestyle? How has it impacted your life?
I first started to ask the questions “Where did this product come from? What journey did it take to get to my hands? How does this impact the world?” about 4 years ago when I first went vegan. It started out with animal products and filtered out into everything I was consuming such as clothing, makeup and plastic. I feel way more mindful and grateful for what I have because I do take the time to pose these questions. Instead of mindlessly shopping, I truly honour the process of production, transportation & receiving a product. It really is a whole process and its kind of bizarre that we just always expect the food to be at the grocer, the clothes to be in the stores and don’t give it a second thought.

I recently drove through the Atlas Mountains in Morocco, it was a breathtaking trek – but what stood out to me the most was all the mountainsides that they were using for agriculture. It was such a revelation to consider that each village was growing its own food and supplying it to all their neighbours and families. There was no Whole Foods or any major grocery stores all the way up there. It was so so beautiful to think about growing and harvesting food for my community. Now every time I cook or eat, I think about those little mountainside farms and how the vegetables in my meal were once in the earth, nourished by the sun, picked and transported right to me. It’s just a completely different experience. I feel connected to the earth with this little ritual and with sustainability in all realms. It’s so simple and I can’t imagine living any other way.

What is your favourite vegan dish to make? Can you give us a quick rundown of the recipe?!
I love mac & cheese. I loved it as a non-vegan and even more now, I make it about once a month. I use gluten-free shells usually made from chickpeas or quinoa. The sauce is 1 medium steamed potato, 1/4 of a red pepper, 1/4 cup of water, garlic powder, onion powder salt, and at least 4 tablespoons of nutritional yeast (but I usually add more) all blended together until perfect consistency is reached. I know it sounds weird, but it gets so creamy, thick and flavourful. I think the mushy potato is what really gives it the perfect consistency. Plus, its a 100% plant-based meal that is easy for your body to digest and doesn’t have loads of sodium like some other mac & cheese alternatives out there. I sprinkle the top with paprika for spice and extra nutritional yeast to mimic a baked bread crumb topping and give it extra cheesy flavour.

We love your Instagram feed. How much behind-the-scenes time normally goes into creating an image for Instagram?
First off, thank you! I actually realised recently how little I think about my feed and wishing my photos looked more seamless together. So, the answer is not a lot of time at all. I am usually just enjoying myself in nature or with my friends watching the sunset and ask someone to capture the moment. The part I do take more time in is editing. I love photo editing because you can completely transform an image. I use the apps Snapseed and Pics art.

What is the one song that’s currently stuck in your head right now?
‘Golden Slumbers’ by The Beatles.

If you were given a plane ticket to travel anywhere you’d like, where would you dream to visit and why?
In this moment, India. I am planning on going next Fall for a yoga teacher intensive. It is the place where yoga was born and it is so rich with Hinduism, which I really align with. I feel like the realms of consciousness are very thin there and I cannot wait to experience it. I know it can be a hectic place, but I’m ready for all that India may bring up within me. I know there’s no place like it.

What do you find most empowering about your job?
Being able to share my authentic voice and help people at the same time. I feel so blessed to do this work.

All Images: Hitomi Mochizuki | Written by Margaux Levy

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