Leave it to Thalia Heffernan to find a way to bake a cake with pink lemonade, in what must be simultaneously the most glam and low-maintenance method of whipping up a sweet treat. And it's vegan.

"My favourite hack is, you know Betty Crocker mix? That and a can of pink lemonade - and that is all that you need. I did it for my niece's birthday and all the adults came back for seconds!"

"People think you have to bake with butter and eggs religiously, but there's amazing ways around it like the carbonation from a fizzy drink will help rise and bind a cake batter. That's the fun thing about being vegan, finding ways to make things we know and love growing up plant based."

"So instead of having to compromise and just stop eating them, figuring out ways of keep still eating the things you love, not necessarily having the entirely healthy because it's not going to last you."

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The Irish model is known as much for her enthusiasm for plant-based living as her stylish turns on runways, photo shoots and our social media feeds. Despite the elegant editorials we've come to expect of her, Heffernan says fashion and makeup are the furthest things from her explore page.

"It's so funny because I think people would think my Instagram is full of fashionable, gorgeous moments but you go onto my Instagram and all of my search feed is dogs, rescue centres and food blogs", she laughs.

Her go-to accounts for foodie inspiration are vegan Instagrammers from around the world that "veganify" their national dishes like Pad Thai and curries, and it's this longing for plant-based versions of beloved home cooking that Heffernan had been feeling.

So it's no wonder the model felt an affinity with Plant It, a new brand of meat substitutes that launched in January 2021, at the height of our third lockdown. Being a vegan for the last five years, Heffernan says the company "lines up so perfectly with everything I love to see a brand and want to see in a brand".

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"I always try to support Irish as much as I can but traditionally we're huge for our farming, so to see an Irish brand coming up and creating alternatives to our traditional food, [it's] something I've been looking for."

She recalls how difficult it was to cut meat from her diet, because "as an Irish girl, meat was in every meal". It was through cooks like The Happy Pear and Yotam Ottolenghi that Heffernan found ways to easily work it into her lifestyle, which she strongly encourages others to do.

That said, she acknowledges how tough it can be for someone new to the plant-based world to work it into their days, and she herself focuses on meal prepping as much as she can, while juggling a demanding and variable work schedule.

"I love cooking. It's probably one of my favourite to do, so if I have some time off I will make a big batch of something like bolognese, meat free, or a curry or roast vegetables, potatoes."

And for a treat? She's committed to nobú, and keeps as many as "seven bars" in her fridge – as well as two 2kg bars for baking. We love the commitment, we have to say.

Heffernan's green ethos is to the forefront of how she picks her skincare too, though she adds, "it's impossible to be perfect" when it comes to being completely sustainable. "For example, if you love a lipstick and you have it at home, don't throw it out because it's not cruelty free. Use it to finished and then go and find an alternative."

Her go-to? As a brand ambassador for Akina Beauty, she's a fan of their range, but also uses Lumiere, a prescription-based skincare range that can be prescribed through a dermatologist, and Skinmade, a revolutionary German brand that uses artificial intelligence to create a custom skincare routine just for you.

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So with cakes it's easy and breezy, but when it comes to skincare she's not messing around. But part of it is also about trying to get the best value for money where possible, she adds.

"I don't even want to think about the amount of money I've spent on creams because I thought it would work. Skincare is as personal to you as anything else. And your skin isn't going to be exactly like someone else's skin."

Supporting Irish brands is clearly important for the model, and she carried that through to how she planned her staycation in Galway this summer.

Instead of going down the Airbnb route, she booked Cloon Cottage in Cleggan Bay in Connemara through Unique Irish Homes, which is owned by "a gorgeous family who rent the absolutely stunning properties all over Ireland, properties that you'd only see in movies". It's "the same concept of Airbnb, but just on a much smaller scale", she says, and though somewhat more expensive than your typical flat along a main street, she said it was worth it for the experience.

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"We brought the two dogs on the ferry over to Inishboffin and you can walk around the island. The boys came down the beach with us, we all went for a swim and then we went to have lunch in the Sea Hare, which is again in Cleggan, and it is the most divine food", she says.

"Going to this little fishing town. I was kind of worried that there wouldn't be anything for us to eat. Usually when you go on a staycation in Ireland as a plant-based person, it's a salad and a bowl of chips. And I'm used to it, it's fine", she laughs but, adds that the Sea Hare has "at least two options on their menu that are vegan every day. Menu changes and they only use products that are sourced locally".

She adds: "The pandemic hit everyone globally so badly. It could be really hard to remember that the country you live in was also hit badly. Trying to keep it Irish and to promote Irish brands or invest into Irish brand is really important."