The owner of a booming Hitchin business has spoken about the positive impact Veganuary has had on her café since it opened five years ago.

The Comet: Chia Naturally Healthy in Churchyard Walk, Hitchin. Picture: JACOB MILLIGANChia Naturally Healthy in Churchyard Walk, Hitchin. Picture: JACOB MILLIGAN (Image: Archant)

Against the backdrop of hanging plants and walls adorned with inspirational messages, Lucy Fisher greets me with a smile at Chia Naturally Healthy in Churchyard Walk, Hitchin.

The café, which exclusively offers plant-based food and drinks alongside a quiet and calm atmosphere, became Lucy's brainchild after an eye-opening family trip to Australia.

She and her husband saw the success of 'healthy cafés' down under, which prioritise organic, nutritious and vegan meals, and wanted to open something similar back in Hitchin.

After initially opening Chia five years ago and moving to a bigger space in Churchyard last April, Lucy says seeing the café packed every day "never ceases to amaze me".

Although Chia now has space for up to 60 people, Lucy says there have been days where staff had to turn customers away because they were at capacity.

Lucy also thinks there have been "massive changes" since the Veganuary trend began to popularise a plant-based diet and the positive health benefits associated with it.

"January is always one of our best months. Since Veganuary and vegan lifestyles as a whole became more popular, we've seen a massive spike of customers in recent years," Lucy says.

"The stigma surrounding it all certainly isn't as bad as it was before. As a vegan myself, seeing these changes make me so excited.

"Things are moving a lot more quickly than anyone could anticipate and others are finally sensing this window of opportunity. We're seeing restaurants and big chains starting to offer vegan alternatives."

Alongside running Chia, Lucy is a mother to two children, one of whom she keeps a watchful eye over as we chat away.

She personally acknowledges every customer as they enter and leave Chia, with a warm "Good afternoon!" or "have a lovely day," emphasising the café's personal touch.

Lucy says juggling motherhood and owning a popular business isn't always easy, but nevertheless she's excited about both her family's and her business's future.