Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch has spoken about her decision to become a vegan and the practical difficulties she faced in adapting her lifestyle.
The Irish star shot to fame with her role as Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter movies and has since used her profile to spread the word about veganism.
She hosts a vegan-themed podcast named The ChickPeeps alongside fellow Harry Potter actor to Robbie Jarvis, environmental activist Momoko Hill, and animal rights campaigner Tylor Starr.
Lynch spoke about her own journey into veganism.
“I went vegetarian really young. I was always grossed out by the idea of meat. My mum told me that when I was a kid I wouldn’t let her walk down the meat aisle because I hated the blood, and that was before I even consciously knew what it was.
“But I wasn’t a very good vegetarian—I was a junk food vegetarian! I didn’t like vegetables, I wouldn’t eat salad. It was mostly pasta, pizza, Weetabix, sometimes a bit of fruit, so whenever veganism came up I thought ‘I couldn’t do it—I would die’.
“But I started to talk about animal rights and welfare, and people started asking ‘Why are you not vegan?’ and I didn’t really have an answer except that it’s hard. But I felt like I should read about it, and I read a book called Eating Animals [by Jonathan Safran] and I was so upset by it.
“And I thought, ‘This is how I feel just by reading about it, just imagine that this is going on all the time’. Many millions of creatures are living this hell every day, and I thought ‘I don’t want any part of this’.
“Then I knew I was vegan in my values and sensibilities and from then it was just about going vegan, which wasn’t easy.
“My friend taught me about the ‘crowding out’ method: rather than seeing veganism as giving things up, look at it as just a new way of eating, as a different type of cuisine. Don’t cut anything out, just introduce new things to your diet and then you can gradually let the animal products fall out of your life.
“But then every time I would go home, my mum– because she’s an Irish mammy – wanted to cook my favourite food, because that’s how she expresses her love!
“She would always make this cherry cake which I’ve loved since I was a kid. And one day I came home and I said ‘I cant eat this mum, it has eggs in it!’, and she just couldn’t conceive that she could make a cake without eggs and she was really sad for a while.
“But one day we looked up a vegan cherry cake and it was great, and that’s what she does now.”
Lynch went on to talk about the growing number of vegans living in Ireland.
“Ireland is getting really good for veganism! The Happy Pear have been brilliant.
“My mum loves them! It’s so embarrassing—they brought me and mum around their factory, and as we were leaving she kissed one of them on the mouth! I was like ‘Oh my God, mum!’– and she was like, ‘No he tried to kiss me’!
“And I said ‘No, you’re a 60 year old lady, I’m pretty sure he didn’t’! And my dad was there too so that was the funny part.
“But I think The Happy Pear are brilliant. They’re so positive.
“Agriculture in Ireland is such a big part of our cultural identity. I think if you were to start talking about the ethics it can be quite polarising, and people feel threatened—so the fact that The Happy Pear are just like ‘Here are some amazing brownies we made!’, it gets a lot of love.
“My mum does an amazing vegan sheperds pie. She calls it Sheperdess pie—I don’t know why.
“But it’s delicious, it’s got lots of different beans and stock and a big layer of potatoes. I’d like if more places did that.”
Although Lunch has gone on to work on various different projects in her career, she realised the impact the role in the Harry Potter films has had on her life and career, and is forever grateful to have been part of such an iconic franchise.
“I feel really privileged to have been part of it. It was such an incredible time and opportunity. It’s not something I’ll ever be ashamed to have been a part of. It’s really respected, there’s such brilliant writing, such deep and loveable characters. I’m really proud to be a part of it.