What can Lauren Lovatt not do? A chef, entrepreneur and now author, she reveals the success of being a full-time vegan.
“This is a vision of the future, we are inspiring passion through plants,” says Lauren Lovatt, founder of Plant Academy. Before Lovatt launched the Plant Academy, she had been building her vegan discography from her first restaurant to her project, Feed Your Mind Candy, an initiative dedicated to “inspiring better mental health through food”.
“I became vegan seven years ago, when I was given the opportunity to open a vegan cafe, Asparagasm. At the time, I had just been on a long journey with my mental health and eating disorders and had learnt a lot about food and how to eat in a way that made me feel good.”
She adds: “Asparagasm led me to host my own plant-based pop-up nights around Europe.” This experience allowed Lovatt to develop recipes, write menus and create events, finetuning her expertise in the plant-based sector and giving her the knowledge to start her own vegan business ventures.
Her goal is to share and inspire knowledge of plant-based food, and she currently teaches all over the globe, from Bali to Barcelona, at famous institutions like Leiths School of Food and Wine.
Lovatt also collaborates with visionaries to bring dreams to reality via cuisine on a worldwide scale. A more recent project she initiated was designing meals for House of Yoga (HOY), Montmartre’s first plant-based boutique hotel.
She says: “It was the first time I had created a whole concept for a brand from breakfast, noon, to night. I was lucky to do it with Carolina [Chinea], who also helped me set up Plant Academy and brought a wreath of experience and extreme organisation to the project. HOY is so aligned with everything I am about, so I’m grateful it has worked out the way it has.”
Her approach is all about using natural foods in an elevated manner and she has a strong eye for presentation and a passion for the most vivid and fresh ingredients. Lovatt also emphasises local and seasonal ingredients as well as adaptogenic herbs and tonics.
Lovatt founded Plant Academy in East London in 2019 with the goal of bringing dreams to reality through food, and it has now grown into a full-fledged online academy with students from all over the world. She explains: “Plant Academy is all about inspiring passion through plants. We work with the leading minds in the industry to teach the best in plant-based food and also work with brands to take their food to the next level. Setting up was a huge challenge, but having the right people involved at the right moment certainly helped.”
She also co-created The Food Studio in 2020 with Sara Kiyo Popowa of Shiso Delicious. It’s a location to create, film, photograph, and investigate the power of the visuals throughout the food industry, as well as a space to hold Plant Academy live events when permitted.
She adds: “We have always been lucky that students’ gravities with very organic marketing and now we are online, it has been much the same. There’s been huge ups and downs, highs and lows and with Covid-19 — like many, I had no idea how we would make it. But we did and I’m so excited for our next big course, Plant Two, for advanced plant food with an incredible line up of chefs.”
Lauren’s energy and principles are embodied in Plant Academy, which fuels enthusiasm through plants by teaching cutting-edge courses that allow students to uncover and express their essence via food, while also having a positive impact on the food chain.
Regardless of the course taken, each student is fully supported by the Plant Academy staff and welcomed into a growing community of past and present students and like-minded individuals, where they are encouraged to continue growing and have access to exclusive events, resources, and a custom-designed Plant Academy Space.
Plant One, an online course on plant-food principles, Plating 101, Plant Two (which was both live and online), a course in expressing your soul through food, and Plant Three, for entrepreneurs to have an effect on the food system, are among the current Plant Academy courses. In addition to Brand Consultancy, the academy also develops and designs bespoke menus and recipes.
Lovatt is also the woman behind Feed Your Mind Candy. She says: “For me, food and mental health go hand-in-hand and have been a massive part of my life and career in food. When I was younger and going through an exceptionally challenging time, it was so hard to find the right help and support. And food was not something that was widely spoken about as a way of helping.
“Over the years, I had to do so much searching to get help, so this was born as a way to connect people with how delicious freeing your mind could be — through supper clubs, workshops and now the book.”
Lovatt’s first book is called Mind Food, which will be out this December. “Mind Food is all about the connection between mental health and food with easy and actionable steps to support your mental health. It takes recipes from the last ten years I have been learning from this connection and also talks about the lifestyle practices I’ve used to support my own mental health.”
In seven years, Lovatt has revolutionised the vegan community, and she continues to do so as she grows Plant Academy. She adds: “Not to sound too cheesy, but in a nutshell, veganism is a way of living that is not only the most delicious, interesting and exciting, but supports the future of ourselves and the planet.”