From X-Factor to Eco-Factor: Leona Lewis' Journey to Sustainability
Former X-Factor winner Leona Lewis shares how her childhood eco-consciousness and pivotal moments led to her becoming a vegan and championing sustainability.
Leona Lewis, the former X-Factor winner, has always had a strong sense of environmental consciousness. As a child, she remembers attending a talk about the environment, and ever since then, she has been aware of the impact of our actions on the planet. "I remember we had someone come in and talk to us about the environment, and my takeaway from that as a kid was I used to come home and switch off all the lights. I remember my parents getting really annoyed because I would walk around and switch the lights off, being like, ‘I’m trying to help the planet’," she said. Her dedication to the environment continued as she grew up, and she has been a vegetarian since she was 12 and vegan for the last six or seven years.
Lewis attributes her interest in animal rights to seeing protests against animal testing at Oxford Circus in London when she was just 10 or 11 years old. "I remember that sparked something in me, like why are they testing on animals? What is this?," she said. Her parents were supportive of her decision to become a vegetarian and made a real effort to accommodate her, and she hopes to pass down her values to her daughter, Carmel Allegra, who is nearly nine months old.
"As parents now, everything is amplified, and we think to ourselves, OK, what are we passing down to Coco? When she’s older, is she going to look at us and be like, what did you guys do? What has happened? It definitely makes you more aware, for sure," she said. Lewis and her husband, Dennis Jauch, a German-born creative director, lead by example, focusing on what they can do in their day-to-day lives. They opened a coffee shop called Coffee + Plants in LA, which has sustainability at its heart. For every few cups sold, they plant a tree, and all of their products are recyclable.
Lewis and Jauch's efforts to live sustainably and reduce their impact on the planet extend to their work as well. Lewis recently voiced a short animation for the Ecoflix Foundation UK, an adaptation of the children's book It’s Up To Us: A Children’s Terra Carta For Nature, People And Planet, originally written by Christopher Lloyd. The animation explores the relationship between people, nature and the planet, and features a foreword from King Charles. "Children have a unique curiosity for nature and this planet we call home," Charles says in the video.
Lewis believes that leading by example is the most important thing she and Jauch can do for their daughter. "What I tend to do is focus on what we can do. My husband and I actually opened a coffee shop with sustainability at its heart – so for every few cups that we sell, we plant a tree – we’re partnered with the National Forest Association. And all of our stuff is recyclable," she said.
Lewis admits to feeling eco-anxiety but believes that concentrating on what they can do in their day-to-day lives is going to take that anxiety away. "I feel like concentrating on what we can do in our day-to-day is going to take that anxiety away," she said. She is excited about the prospect of Carmel teaching her new things and is determined to be supportive of her daughter's ideas and beliefs, just as her parents were supportive of hers. "I was lucky enough that my parents listened to me and supported me when I was like, I want to be a vegetarian. I want to turn off all the lights in the house. They were supportive of that. So hopefully Coco comes home, and I can be supportive of what she has to teach me," she said.