Made In Chelsea's Lucy Watson explains why she's on a vegan mission
Reality TV star Lucy Watson wants veganism to go mainstream. She tells Ella Walker why
VEGANISM and indulgence are not things you'd necessarily associate with one another, but former Made In Chelsea star Lucy Watson is trying to change that.
The 27-year-old, who grew up on her parents' farm and became vegetarian aged six, switched to veganism two years ago – but got bored of being stuck in a cycle of just eating salads and soups.
"I was a bit clueless about what I could eat," she admits, "and I did miss indulging myself."
Hence she's put together her cookbook, Feed Me Vegan, to help make other peoples' "journey to being vegan a little less daunting", and prove that "food can still be amazing, even if it's vegan". Think cruelty-free mac and cheese, banoffee pie, chocolate fudge cake, chilli, cheeseburgers and carbonara – yes really.
"This sounds silly, but I didn't really realise cows didn't produce milk naturally," says Lucy, on what triggered her shift to veganism. "I forgot the fact they had to have a baby, and one day it hit me: What happens to that baby? What happens to the calf? Because if we're using all the milk, the baby won't survive.
"It was a weird realisation – I think it was after I watched [Netflix documentary] Cowspiracy, I researched it. I remember saying to my boyfriend, 'I think they kill the calf'. He was like, 'No, no definitely not, they don't', but I researched it and sometimes it is the case.
"I was just like, 'Oh my God, I can't contribute to that'."
Cutting out dairy, she says, wasn't a challenge in itself: "I don't miss the food at all, it would actually make me feel a bit sick if I ate it now."
However, she does occasionally miss the ease of being able to walk into a restaurant – and order anything off the menu without having to go through the rigmarole of explaining veganism to a bemused waiter. But awareness has massively improved, even in the couple of years since she made the switch.
In fact, between 2006-2016, the number of vegans in Britain increased by 360 per cent, and Lucy reckons veganism "will eventually become mainstream". Partly because "the planet can't cope with the pressure we're putting on it", and partly because "we all have compassion within us", she says.
"I think eventually, people will realise that veganism is the only compassionate option," Lucy adds passionately. "Eventually they'll change laws around the situation, and it will become a lot harder to access non-vegan products. I hope to see it in this lifetime, and if not, I'd hope to leave behind some sort of influence."
And what about her boyfriend, model and fellow MIC alumni James Dunmore? He was a meat-eater; however, Lucy reveals: "The other day he was like, 'I'm going to go pescatarian', and to be fair, he's pretty much been pescatarian since."
Lucy's sister Tiff and mum Fiona are vegan too – so what are they going to eat at Christmas, with turkey off the menu?
"Christmas is an interesting one, but it's just one day, it doesn't really matter," she says with a laugh. "I'll just be eating a load of vegetables."
Feed Me Vegan by Lucy Watson, photography Mike English, is published by Sphere, priced £16.99. Below are two recipes from the book for you to try.
100g dried flat rice noodles
1tbsp soy sauce
1tbsp tamarind paste
1tbsp light muscovado sugar
1tbsp vegetable oil
1 garlic clove, finely chopped
2.5cm piece of fresh root ginger, peeled and cut into thin strips
1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
1/4tsp ground turmeric
100g firm tofu, crumbled
120g prepared stir-fry vegetable mix (such as carrots, beansprouts, Asian greens, etc)
1tbsp chopped peanuts and chopped coriander leaves, to garnish
2 lime wedges, to serve
Soak the noodles in cold water for 10 minutes or until soft. Put the soy sauce, tamarind and sugar in a bowl and mix together, then leave to one side. Put a non-stick wok over a high heat. When hot, add the oil, garlic and ginger, and cook for 30 seconds. Add the onion, turmeric and tofu, and stir-fry for four to five minutes or until the tofu becomes crispy. Add the vegetable mix and stir-fry for two minutes.
Lift the noodles out of the water and put directly into the wok. Stir-fry for two minutes, then add the tamarind sauce mix and two tablespoons of water. Stir-fry for another two to three minutes or until the noodles are soft and coated in the thickened liquid, then garnish with peanuts and coriander. Serve with lime wedges.
FRENCH TOAST WITH SPICED PLUMS
200ml almond milk
2tbsp light brown soft sugar
2tbsp wholemeal flour
1tbsp nutritional yeast
1/2tsp ground cinnamon
A pinch of salt
2tbsp vegan butter
4 thick slices day-old white bloomer bread, sliced about 2cm thick
For the spiced plums:
3tbsp vegan butter
3tbsp light soft brown sugar
6 large ripe plums, pitted and quartered
1/4tsp ground ginger
1/4tsp ground cinnamon
Begin by pan-frying the plums. Put the butter and sugar in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. When it begins to bubble, put the plums into the pan. Sprinkle over the spices and cook for four to five minutes until soft, stirring occasionally. The plums should be well coated with the glossy syrup. Remove from the heat.
Pour the milk into a bowl and add the sugar, flour, nutritional yeast, cinnamon and salt. Whisk well. Put a large non-stick frying pan over a medium-high heat. Put the butter in the pan and wait until it begins to sizzle. Take each piece of bread and dip both sides into the milk mixture until soaked well.
Add the soaked bread slices to the pan and cook for three to four minutes on each side until golden brown and crispy. Put the plums back over the heat to warm through. Serve the plums on the bread, making sure to use up all the spiced buttery syrup.