Evanna Lynch - Actress
Evanna Lynch is an Irish actress, model and narrator. She rose to fame for her portrayal of Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter film series. Evy has also starred on stage in Disco Pigs and hosts her own vegan podcast called ChickPeeps!
Check out our questions below as we asked Evy all about being vegan, Harry Potter and much more...
When did you go vegan? What were your reasons? Was it easy?
It was a very gradual process for me so it’s hard to put a date on it. I would say early 2015 was when I fully made the transition and could comfortably and happily say I’m vegan without looking forlornly at the all the cream laden desserts I couldn’t have. I really love dessert.
But I began my vegan journey back in 2013 when I read ‘Eating Animals’ by Jonathan Safron Foer. I’d been vegetarian since I was eleven because the concept of meat, of eating someone else’s flesh repulsed me and I hated the idea of animals dying for my food. I abhor violence. Honestly, cutting out meat wasn’t hard for me because of that visceral association with blood, suffering, killing. I can’t look at a burger and not see the other butchered pieces of a cow around it. Not very appetising. But giving up dairy and eggs was much harder for me because I couldn’t see that vivid connection. It wasn’t until I read that book that my eyes were really opened to how much suffering is in a glass of milk. Oddly though the author goes only vegetarian at the end so it feels like an incomplete book, but it’s essential reading for the research that has gone into it and the family narrative the author weaves in through the journey. Basically, my reason for going vegan was that I do not see humans as superior beings to animals and it hurts and shames me as a human to see us exploiting them. People always use our intelligence as evidence of our superiority but I don’t see intelligence as the most divine and aspirational trait. Animals are much more connected to the spiritual world, to their intuition and instincts and that is something I admire. They are much purer souls than us and I believe they have so much to teach humans. I just wish they wouldn’t be so patient with us.
I will admit it wasn’t an easy switch for me. I have a history of disordered eating and when I first switched to veganism I was doing it out of guilt and shame. That was a very unhappy place for me to be in, because even though I was doing it for new, better reasons, the very feeling of denying myself a food I wanted brought me back to that toxic space of self-hate and deprivation. A big milestone of overcoming my eating disorder was sharing birthday cake with everyone again. That was liberating for me and it was a way of saying yes to freedom and self love. When I went vegan, for the most part, that experience was taken away again and I felt the sense of alienation and loneliness and guilt all over again and it hurt. So that approach did not last for very long. But I did not give up, I knew veganism matched my soul and that I just needed to redefine my outlook on saying no to certain foods. The absolute best advice I got going vegan was to ‘add before you subtract’ and ‘crowd out the animal products with vegan ones’ and that the animal products would eventually fall away naturally without the sense of sacrifice, and they did :) By filling my life with vegan influences, I soon fell in love with the lifestyle and the community and it became a privilege and a joy to be vegan. Now my vegan lifestyle is powered by my love of animals, rather than my hatred of animal abuse and that is a very important distinction.
Are there any animal rights issues that you’re particularly passionate about? What do you think we can do about it as a community?
I’m very passionate about wild animals being left alone to be wild. It was the organisation World Animal Protection that really educated me on the plight of wild animals with a campaign I joined them on called ‘Wild Animals Belong in the Wild’. Because the thing that struck me about people going elephant trekking, taking selfies with tigers and swimming with dolphins is that it is usually self-confessed animal lovers who participate in these activities and who’s money supports the cruel practices these animals endure. I always dreamed about going elephant trekking in Thailand and when I found about the rituals it takes to break an elephant’s spirit I felt devastated and betrayed that I had almost fallen for the tactics of the marketing machine. Even just a few months ago my best friend and I were planning to go to the famous Pig Beach. We were using it as our summer reward to get our mutual goals done! And then a vegan organisation I follow did an expose on the pig culling that happens covertly to keep the pig population in check and tourist-friendly and I realised it is not the paradise I imagined. I hate that love of animals is exploited in this fashion. So I am passionate about exposing these cruel traditions of wild animals used for entertainment. The best thing we can do is speak, write and post about it! Check out World Animal Protection for guides on the top forms of animal abuse in the tourism industry, they make very handy posts for facebook etc that will catch the eye of your animal-loving friends and hopefully help debunk the myth that these are appropriate, ethical tourist attractions to put one’s money towards.
What’s your favourite dish to cook at home?
I am a big fan of Deliciously Ella’s blog and book and app and I use her recipes every week. In her book she talks about what a junk food devotee she was growing up and how she didn’t like vegetables and I was exactly the same. I was a vegetarian who did not like the taste of vegetables! My mum used to tell me I’d never be able to go on a date with a boy because most restaurants don’t serve beans on toast. But Deliciously Ella totally changed my life and diet because she prepares vegetables in such a creative, yet simple way. My favourite recipes from her app are the Nutty Pea and Quinoa Bowl and also the Pea Spinach Pesto Bowl. For desserts, I love Tanya Maher’s ‘The Uncook Book’ for the Triple Chocolate Marble Cake because I lovvvve chocolate and it is so decadent. The ingredients are pretty expensive though so it’s only for special occasions and/or when life is a bit shit and I need chocolate therapy.
What is your favourite vegan/vegetarian restaurant in the world?
Hmm, that is a tough one. Probably Food for Friends in Brighton because I had the most perfect meal there and happy memories tied up in it. To be honest, I lose my mind at any vegan restaurant because it is such a novelty to be surrounded by people who share my love for and commitment to animals. I have to restrain myself from gatecrashing other people’s tables. Sometimes I go to vegan restaurants alone with a book and wait for my dream vegan man to rock up and share hummus and cat stories with me.
What is your top tip for young people who want to go vegan but have unsupportive parents/friends?
Explain to them why you care. Speak to them from your heart about it. There is no use lecturing them on the environmental affects of the agricultural industry or the unmedicated castration of pigs. Chances are they have already heard some of those things and blocked them out and if you make people feel bad for not caring, they recoil from it and associate veganism with those bad feelings. If they see how much it means to you, someone they love, they will at least be respectful. I take inspiration from the same sex marriage movement in Ireland and the way stories and heart-to-heart connections helped the older generation open their minds. It was Catholic grandparents loving and identifying with their gay and lesbian grandchildren that put a human face on homosexuality and made them see it simply as love. Those families’ stories are what changed the public's opinion and legalised same-sex marriage. I think it has to be the same with veganism, you cannot reason it out in a debate, no matter how superior your arguments are. Most people are only moved by feelings. I met a mother of a vegetarian teenager last year at a conference and she told me the whole family had transitioned to vegetarianism with her. Mystified, I asked her how and why and she said it was one day when her daughter had broke down crying about the fate of baby male chicks and she saw how much it hurt her, that she changed the family diet to vegetarian overnight. Most people don’t feel that strong connection to animals but the human element will affect them. It was not the poor little chicks that mother was affected by, she was inspired be her own daughter’s heart and compassion. I’m not saying you should stage an epic tantrum over your family’s Sunday roast but show them that at the root of veganism is compassion and you’re only doing what you’re doing because you care so much.
It’s also your responsibility to be thoroughly researched. You just have to. People are so miseducated when it comes to nutrition and health. Almost all of us are raised to be carnivorous and all of us grew up in a meat-eating society so we are battling mass public conditioning. A big thing for me was to get my mum to stop using the word ‘radical’ to describe the vegan diet and lifestyle. I’ve had to introduce her to the wonders of a food processor and juicer and be a living example of how much healthier and happier I am as a vegan. And there’s nothing so rewarding and cool as teaching your lovely mama new recipes!
What are your favourite cruelty free cosmetics/clothing brands?
For shoes Beyond Skin is the best! And they are the nicest people and have the best social media shares, follow them for daily inspiration! I also love Insectashoes, a brazilian company that make shoes that are entirely unique and quirky and comfortable. Whenever I shop there I find shoes that feel very ‘me’.
For clothes I adore Vaute but you have to be signed up to the mailing list and move fast because they sell out so quickly! Her stuff is also often on the pricey side so they’re investment pieces. I also love shopping online at FreePeople and Nastygal. They clearly mark their vegan stuff and do beautiful shoes, bags and jackets. Another one is Reformation who do gorgeous dresses but be aware they are not all vegan materials and use recycled silk and leather.
And for cosmetics I love Kat Von D. I use Dermalogica skincare though I believe not all of those products are vegan. I have a lot to learn about that industry and and still working on it.
Which (of the countries you’ve visited) are most vegan friendly?
Sydney, Australia was pretty great. We found some amazing vegan restaurants there while working at ComicCon and I managed to drag some other actors along. I wish I could remember the names for you… France is always the toughest place for me which is a bummer because it is my favourite country to visit. The awareness is spreading though and it’s always a fun mission to go hunt down the hidden hippie vegan joints in these cities.
Are there any other social justice issues that you’re passionate about?
I’m just totally passionate about promoting personal freedom and self love. I envision a world where everyone can love who they love and embrace who they are. Sounds idyllic I know but I’m not ashamed of being an idealist. Having struggled with body-hate and shame for most of my teenage years, I no longer have time for any feelings of entrapment, oppression or guilt. So it’s important for me to promote causes like body confidence, mental health awareness and LGBTQ rights. I cannot stand to see creative, beautiful, loving souls oppressed and made to feel bad about the way they are. I see only pain and separateness in that. I’m determined to help liberate people from these shackles and give them permission to love themselves and to be their brightest, boldest selves.
How old were you when you got your role as Luna Lovegood in Harry Potter? How did you prepare for your audition?
The ripe old age of 14! I prepared, unwittingly by being the biggest book geek in school :) I lived and breathed Harry Potter since I was 8 so by the time I was 14 and the open audition came along I was fully primed to step into the magical world. It helped that I was young and oblivious too and didn’t give a damn about the craft of acting, I really just wanted to live that role and that helped me overcome the nerves. Luna’s story was more important than my doubts and fears so they didn’t inhibit me. When the open audition came along, the notice did not specify any preparation work and neither did the callback so all I had to worry about was containing my fangirl urges and not reveal to the producers what a Harry Potter nutcase I was. And then I got cast and it allllll came out.
I didn’t go to an acting high school but I went to drama, singing and dance classes every Wednesday after school. I was extremely shy as a child, not fit for showbiz at all but I had so many feelings I wanted to express and acting was the thing that liberated me and eventually it’s what gave me the courage to be my full, weird, awkward self out in the real world too.
What was your favourite thing about playing that role? Were there any negative things about it?
My favourite thing was simply getting to be part of the Potter family and to work on a character I loved so much. I am so proud to have played Luna Lovegood and to have been trusted by the filmmakers and J.K.Rowling to preserve and honour her spirit. She was such an important influence to me as a quirky teenager and I was determined that whoever played her should love her like a sister. And it was just so exciting to work there every day alongside established actors and to witness that all these amazing people who I’d idolised growing up were human too. Watching them be normal people building awesome characters encouraged me to step into my own creative powers and realise that I had important things to say and express too.
In terms of negative things, not really. I probably would have done better in my exams if I hadn’t been distracted by magic school :) And the fame thing was a little hard to deal with at first and there were certainly days when I cared too much about the mean things people wrote on the internet. But that stuff also toughened me up and taught me who I am so no regrets.
Are you like the character Luna in any way in real life?
I am open-minded like she is. I love being challenged by weird, new, bold people and things. I think I embrace things I don’t understand the way she does and I have the capacity to believe in things I feel even when I don’t see things. I see Luna as an artist, always exploring life through colours and shapes and feelings.
But I am not as free as Luna unfortunately. I have insecurities and fears and I get obsessed with every passing boy crush the way the very centred and wise Luna never would. Oy. She would never lose herself the way I do so often! I know I care too much what people think but I’m ok with it now and I think being an actor is the only job where it’s awesome to be hyper aware and hyper sensitive. In short I’m a lot more human and a lot less magical than Luna Lovegood and I’m fine with that!
I am also confident, due to her strong spiritual connection and her affinity with magical beasts, that Luna would be vegan. I have not yet worked up the nerve to ask Jo to clarify yet however as she tends to surprise me and I know I would be heartbroken and disillusioned if she told me she wasn’t even vegetarian.
Do you have any advice/tips for young people who want to go into acting?
Read lots of stories and characters. And I don’t mean acting books, I’ve never found them to be very helpful because acting is something you categorically cannot do with your mind. But stories stimulate your imagination and imagination is your most powerful tool as an actor and you need to feed it. It is important to stay connected to that aspect of acting because there is also a business/industry side to acting that you’ll have to navigate and can really wear down your creative spirit. The business can make you forget the original reason you came to acting. Reading and watching stories is what feeds your inner child and that’s what all the directors, agents and producers are looking to see.
Also, get yourself an art-family. People who are positive and help you believe in yourself when your confidence is low or when jobs are scarce. It’s so, so important that you invest in yourself as an artist and don’t give up who you are for your dream. Surround yourself with people who cultivate a healthy mindset in you and that inspire and motivate you by their own work ethic.
And most importantly, create!! You’re an artist and you don’t need permission to do what you love, despite what some casting directors would have you think. Don’t be afraid to say no to things that don’t inspire you, being half assed about your work is career suicide. And in your art, always make bold choices and trust your instincts. There’s something in you that nobody else has and you need to be brave enough to uncover that.
If you weren’t an actress, what other career would you have liked to have?
I want to be a writer and luckily that goes nicely with being an actress so I don’t have to decide! I often think I am too introspective and cerebral to be an actor. I am most comfortable operating out of my head, like writers, but I feel most alive and happy when I’m forced back into my body by acting. I’m happiest when I do both.
Eventually I will give it all up and open a cat sanctuary. I visited a bear sanctuary last year in Romania and the founders Cristina and Roger so inspired me with their love and commitment to the bears that desperately needed a sanctuary. They were two of the most passionate and selfless people I’ve ever met. But having a cat sanctuary wouldn’t be an entirely selfless mission for me. I cannot express in words how happy and gleeful cats make me. I just want to lie at their pink padded feet and be their human slave. But first I have to make my fortune because the cats are not going to settle for anything less than a palace.
We noticed that you like to run, do you have any other hobbies apart from acting and running?
I have far too many interests for the amount of years I probably have left as a human. I do Muay Thai 3x a week to let off steam and pretend I’m a badass. That started because I’m a bit obsessed with the UFC fighter Conor MgGregor (who was recently beaten by a vegan incidentally…something to ponder…) and I discovered how empowering it is to punch and kick things. I also do yoga and dancing. I love reading though I have commitment problems when it comes to books and I’m usually reading six different books at once. I also write and will eventually get my ass in gear and make my blog live.
Vegfest Bristol. It is so quaint and the lines are not insane. Don’t forget to bring cash though, the cash machine at Tesco is a bit of a trek.
Netflix or Cinema?
Reading or listening to Music?
Reading! Gimme all the books!
Shopping or Upcycling?
What is upcycling? Shopping of course.
Tea or Coffee?
Neither, I don’t like hot drinks :/
Interviews on TV or radio?
Cat, specifically my cat, Puff. I also admire hedgehogs.
Twitter or Instagram?