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Season your meal times with a little compassion; MADE IN CHELSEA'S LUCY WATSON TELLS ELLA WALKER WHY SHE WANTS VEGANISM TO GO MAINSTREAM.

VEGANISM and indulgence are not things you'd necessarily associate with one another, but former Made In Chelsea star and influencer, Lucy Watson, is trying to change that.

The 27-year-old, who grew up feeding the ducks 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 her cookbook, Feed Me Vegan, to help make other people's "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.

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, it's a growing trend - between 2006-2016, the number of vegans in Britain increased by 360%, 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."

She believes we need to change how we talk about animals in relation to food. "It's completely fabricated to us at school. If anything, we're taught to love animals; we're never taught the connection between them and dinner," she says, describing how distancing terms like beef and pork can be. "If we were educated from the get-go, I think a lot of children would be opposed to it straightaway."

By adulthood, she says it's often too late: "A lot of people don't even want to know by then."

Lucy's household is not entirely vegan though - her pets still eat fish (her German Spitz Digby keeps barking happily in the background during our chat). "I feed them all-organic, ethically-sourced fish. It's the best I can offer for them," she says. "I don't even know if they should really be living under my roof, the domesticated animal thing is all a bit baffling - so I don't really want to force them to live a life I would probably adapt to a lot more easily than they do."

And what about her boyfriend, model and fellow MIC alumni James Dunmore? He was a meat-eater, however, Lucy reveals: "The other day he said, 'I'm going to go pescatarian', and to be fair, he's pretty much been pescatarian since. Before that he had chicken in his life, which was in our freezer."

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 PS16.99.

snack attack FRENCH TOAST WITH SPICED PLUMS snack attack INGREDIENTS: (Serves 2) 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 METHOD: 1. 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 in. 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.

2. Pour the milk into a bowl and add the sugar, flour, nutritional yeast, cinnamon and salt. Whisk well.

3. 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. 4. 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. 5. Serve the plums on the bread, making sure to use up all the spiced buttery syrup.

comfort foodMUSHROOMY MAC AND CHEESE INGREDIENTS: (Serves 6) 500g dried macaroni; 40g dried wild mushrooms; 2tbsp vegan butter; 250g chestnut mushrooms; 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped; 1tbsp thyme leaves; sea salt and freshly ground black pepper For the bechamel sauce: 50g vegan butter; 3tbsp plain flour; 800ml almond milk; 1/4tsp grated nutmeg; 4tbsp nutritional yeast; 200g vegan Cheddar cheese, grated; 50g vegan Parmesan cheese, finely grated; Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper For the topping: 40g vegan Parmesan cheese, grated; 2tbsp finely chopped flat-leaf parsley leaves METHOD: 1. Preheat the oven to 220degC (200degC fan, gas 7). Cook the macaroni in boiling, salted water according to the packet instructions, until al dente. Drain in a colander and refresh under cold water until cooled.

2. Put the dried mushrooms in a small heatproof bowl. Pour 150ml boiling water over them and leave to rehydrate for 15 minutes.

Drain the mushrooms, reserving the liquid for the bechamel sauce. Roughly chop the mushrooms. 3. Melt the butter in a non-stick frying pan over a high heat. When hot, add the wild mushrooms, chestnut mushrooms, garlic and thyme. Cook for five to eight minutes until the mushrooms have browned well. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from the heat. 4. To make the bechamel sauce, put a large saucepan over a medium heat, then add the butter and stir until melted. Add the flour and cook for one minute, stirring constantly. Whisk in the milk, and continue to whisk until the sauce thickens, then lower the heat and add the remaining ingredients. Stir until the cheese has completely melted.

5. Remove from the heat and season with salt and pepper. Add the mushrooms and macaroni to the saucepan with the sauce and stir well until everything is evenly coated. Transfer to a deep 25 x 30cm ovenproof dish.

6. Mix the topping ingredients together and sprinkle over the macaroni. Cook in the oven for 20-25 minutes or until the topping is golden brown and crunchy.

spice the is nice INGREDIENTS: (Serves 1) 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 METHOD: 1. Soak the noodles in cold water for 10 minutes or until soft.

2. Put the soy sauce, tamarind and sugar in a bowl and mix together, then leave to one side.

3. 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. 4. 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.

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Reality bites: Lucy Watson has made it easier for people to enjoy veganism
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Title Annotation:Features
Publication:South Wales Echo (Cardiff, Wales)
Article Type:Recipe
Date:Nov 11, 2017
Words:1425
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