From her animal rights activism, to showing her fiercely loyal side in Made in Chelsea, Lucy Watson is synonymous with passion. And over the years, she’s followed that by launching her own vegan restaurant in May, and writing the bestselling vegan book of Veganuary 2018.
One thing’s for sure, Lucy’s not one to be underestimated; she’s proven herself to be an intelligent and driven businesswoman, who genuinely cares about the world around her and wants to make a difference. But how did she get here?
In our candid chat, Lucy talks about her life-long relationship with counselling, her vegan journey, and finding her happy ending with her partner and MIC castmate James Dunmore. And above all what shines through is that she still has so much more to give...
"I hate to think people are out there with problems, who don’t feel comfortable talking to friends or family, and don’t know what to do or where to turn,” says Lucy Watson, who first came to the public eye in 2012 when she joined the cast of Made In Chelsea, and has since made a name for herself as a businesswoman, author and animal rights activist.
“I would recommend counselling to anyone,” she continues. “It’s the best thing you could ever do for yourself.”
It’s a warm lunchtime in May at our cover shoot, and Lucy is perched on a makeup stool, biting into a vegan brownie and chatting about her experiences with counselling, breaking into the family business, and what she’s most known for now: the wonders of vegan cooking.
With her award-winning debut cookbook, Feed Me Vegan, along with a vegan eatery under her belt, and a brand new book – Feed Me Vegan: For All Occasions – launching soon, she’s somewhat of an expert on the subject.
I tell Lucy how excitedly my friends flicked through the pages of her first book, recommending their favourite recipes. “That’s the thing with these books, they’re not only for vegans,” she says. “They’re for everybody.”
Having bought it myself, I can vouch for that. I’m not vegan, but the recipes are delicious, nutritious and simple to make – not to mention affordable. And that’s one of the things Lucy wants from these books; to make vegan food more accessible. All you need is a taste for flavour and a willingness to try something new – something Lucy recognises with her own transition to veganism.
“As you learn more about food; the nutrients you get from plants and how healthy it can be, I think you start to appreciate vegetables a lot more,” she says, and having become vegan two years ago, Lucy is aware there is still so much to learn. “I’m on a journey myself and I think the people buying the book are on the journey with me.”
The more I speak to Lucy, the more I realise who she is. The tough, strong exterior we saw back in the MIC days certainly remains, but there is so much more to her. She is determined in her business ventures, but also a passionate, sensitive woman who loves animals and wants to do all she can – in her own life and the world around her – to protect them.
Given that Lucy spent much of her childhood living on a farm, her love of animals comes as no surprise. And while this passion has influenced her career and taste for vegan eating, this wasn’t always the case. She recalls being much more difficult as a child – with less culinary flair – living on a diet consisting mostly of macaroni cheese and pancakes.
Her dad Clive – chairman of the City Pub group and an experienced businessman – was more traditional when it came to mealtimes though. Meat was always a part of their dinners, but when Lucy learned exactly what it was, she was devastated. “I remember being very upset,” she says. “I was hurt and angry – I felt tricked.”
She refused to eat meat after this, and it wasn’t long before her mum and sister Tiffany followed suit. When her parents separated shortly after, Lucy and Tiff lived with their mum, and continued their childhood in a primarily vegetarian household.
Being so young when her parents separated wasn’t easy. In fact, this led Lucy to her first experience of counselling. “I’ve had counselling my whole life,” she says. “I started it when I was young and really struggled with my parents’ divorce.”
It’s clear when speaking to Lucy just how important family is to her. Her dad in particular (who has made several appearances on MIC alongside his two daughters) has been a key influence in her latest venture. In May this year, Lucy, her dad and Tiffany opened a vegan eatery, Tell Your Friends, in London.
“My sister is my best friend, so we work well together,” Lucy explains. “We’re both quite headstrong and know what we want, but we have similar ideas. It’s so nice working with someone you completely trust, and who you agree with on almost everything.”
When not writing a book, or opening a restaurant, she is tirelessly building her brand. Lucy smiles as she talks through all her current projects, the fond memories of working on MIC, and hopes for the future. She’d like to return to TV, but only for the right thing – Lucy will only work on projects or with brands whose values reflect her own.
But with animal causes and charities close to her heart, she is a busy woman. She’s an ambassador for PETA, supporting them by raising awareness wherever she can – “it’s as simple as if they ask me to do something, I’ll do it, because I trust them” – but wants to get more involved and really “get her hands dirty” with animal sanctuaries in particular. “I want to be in on the action with these people that are doing amazing things. They’re the people I look up to.”
It seems Lucy has everything figured out, but she’s still human. Having counselling as a child wasn’t the only time she sought support for her mental health, and Lucy has continued to see a counsellor on and off her whole life “for pretty much anything – relationships, work or emotions”.
Over the years, Lucy’s learnt what she needs from a counsellor in order to really benefit from therapy. “I’ve had some really bad counselling sessions, where it feels like they’re just saying what they think they should say, or like they are not listening to what I’m telling them,” she says.
But it was her last counsellor, around three years ago, who really helped her. “She was so intelligent; her way of looking at situations was amazing. It’s so easy to get lost in your thoughts, but a good counsellor is one who can help you untangle them, and understand what they mean.”
To read more of Lucy's exclusive chat with us, pick up the September issue of Happiful in supermarkets from Thursday 16 August.
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Photography | Joseph Sinclair
Hair and makeup | Alice Theobald using Sukin and Burt's Bees skincare, Cosmetics à La Carte, Inika, Barry M, Cover FX makeup, Eylure lashes and Lanza haircare
Styling | Krishan Parmar