The Sunday Times number one bestselling authors and vegan chefs Ian Theasby (pictured left) and Henry Firth – aka BOSH! – partnered up with National Vegetarian Week this year to help bring the veggie message to the masses. Here the busy duo took a little time out to talk to us…
The Vegetarian Society: What made you decide to change to your diet to a plant-based one?
Henry: We both went vegan in 2015 for different reasons. Ian was first to go vegan, as part of a New Year health kick. We were living together at the time and I was not impressed by Ian’s questionable curries! One fateful night, we both watched Kip Andersen’s Cowspiracy and I went vegan overnight. We’ve never looked back!
TVS: You’re both home-taught cooks. What do you wish you’d known when you first started your culinary journey?
H: Ooh good question! We grew up on meat and two veg, so we wish we knew earlier that meat doesn’t have to be in every meal and that eating more plants is a healthier, tastier and cheaper way to live. We also learned it’s pretty important to read the label!
TVS: You were a National Vegetarian Week partner this year and visited a school during the week itself. What do you remember about school dinners and what do you think would make a perfect school dinner now?
Ian: A go-to school dinner would be a burger inside a plate-sized Yorkshire pudding, covered in chips and swimming in gravy. It was definitely not the most nutritious dinner. We think it’s so important to teach kids to cook and eat the rainbow. We know kids want more veggie and vegan options at school, they’re the future.
TVS: Some cooks always develop recipes together, others work alone – how do you two do it?
I: We’re inspired every day. We like to recreate tastes and textures from food we used to enjoy, but we also get inspired when we’re out at a new restaurant or travelling abroad. We always develop recipes together, two heads are definitely better than one!
TVS: What’s the best and worst thing the other one has cooked?
I: One of Henry’s finest culinary moments would have to be the Mezze Cake from our first book. The idea began as a falafel lasagne and morphed into a multi-layered creation of middle eastern delicacies. It has so many incredible flavours and has had over 5 million views on our channels.
The worst would have to go to the Jackson Pollock Loaf Cake. A bread braid that went terribly wrong. The twisting went alright, but the icing was all over the place. It didn’t look good, it didn’t taste good, needless to say we didn’t bother making a video for it!
H: An incredible work of genius in the creation of guacaroni. Guacamole and macaroni. It seems so simple, but tastes so good.
I don’t miss the dull brown curries Ian was creating at the start of his culinary journey into veganism. It was more like eating a puddle than eating the rainbow. Thankfully after four years of cooking nothing but plants, his curries are now legendary.
TVS: There are so many well-loved Instagram cooks out there now. What do you think makes BOSH! stand out?
H: We put a lot of work and time into making sure every recipe video we create is the highest possible quality. We love music, so that’s a big part of our videos too.
TVS: Some people think eating plant-based is expensive and takes a lot of time to prepare. What would you say to those people?
H: It’s important to us that we use ingredients that are readily available from a local supermarket. We want vegan food to be as attainable and delicious as possible. Arguably the most expensive part of a meal would be high welfare meat, so if you remove that then you have a cheaper meal.
TVS: You’re both so busy, so what is your grab-and-go meal?
I: For a quick weeknight dinner, it would have to be stir fry or our Super-Speedy Spaghetti from BISH BASH BOSH!
TVS: Which dish, from your new book, would you cook as a crowd-pleaser?
I: Definitely the Shepherd’s Pie. It’s one of those dishes that people try and can’t believe is vegan. There’s so many rich flavours and perfect for a hearty meal.
TVS: You work with a lot of people up and down the country; do you think people are becoming more conscious of the environment when making food choices?
H: 100%. David Attenborough has said it, the UN has said it, we all need to eat less meat and dairy. There has not only been a huge increase in vegans in the UK, but flexis too, meaning people are becoming much more conscious of what they’re putting into their bodies.
TVS: What’s next on the horizon for BOSH!
I: Our first lifestyle book, ‘How To Live Vegan’, is coming in October, which we’re so excited about. It’s a book for anyone who is thinking about veganism, but might not be quite sure where to start, or for anyone that eats vegan but wants to incorporate veganism into other areas of their lifestyle too.
BISH BASH BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby is out now. How To Live Vegan is out 3 October 2019 (HQ, HarperCollins).
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