Interview: Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, BOSH.TV
Why Veganism could be the best life change you make this year...
You’re both Sheffielders. What was the food scene like there when you were growing up?
Henry: We both went to the same secondary school, and I very much remember our school dinners – giant Yorkshire puddings, you’d sometimes get a chicken burger inside, with gravy and chips as well. We had similar upbringings and to be honest tended to have home cooked food growing up, rather than going out and getting involved in the food scene.
When did you both make the decision to turn vegan?
Ian: We both went vegan in 2015. My decision was off the back of a little bit of a challenge. I wanted to see if I could try vegetarianism for the month of February, as it’s the shortest month, and I started doing a lot of reading about vegetarianism, which led me to veganism. I thought it sounded quite interesting as a concept so gave it a whirl. After a month of doing it I was losing weight, my hair was getting thicker and I thought, it’s probably a really good thing for the environment as well. That’s when Henry and I watched Cowspiracy, and he went vegan too.
Do you have any tips for people wanting to give veganism a go?
Ian: Load yourself up with as much information as you possibly can. If you decide you want to try Veganuary, spend a couple of hours in December researching recipes that you think you might like the look of, or spend a bit of time constructing a meal plan. Spend some time looking at food you can eat, so when you eventually get into the swing of it, it becomes a lot easier, and you’re not stuck for what to have for lunch or which snacks are available to you.
What inspired the latest book, Speedy BOSH?
Henry: We’ve always been about busting preconceptions, so the first book was all about busting the preconception that vegan food just didn’t taste good – we wanted to show everyone that it can be really, really delicious. People still have the feeling that vegan food takes ages to prepare and is really difficult to make. The reality is vegan food can be really speedy, and totally attainable and easy.
Have you faced any challenges, or come across any foods you just can’t speed up?
Ian: With a little bit of creative thinking, a little bit of trial, and a little bit of error, most things can be cooked pretty quickly – if you’re happy to abandon traditional methods. We’ve gone as far as speeding up things like lasagne, which you would never think you could make quickly. Sometimes, people are very particular, and say the sauce needs to simmer for an hour and a half for maximum flavour. Take the Black Bean Mole, that’s the sort of thing that traditionally, in Mexico, you’d have simmering for hours and hours. If you drop the right spices in, with some dark chocolate to give it some rich earthiness, you’re left with something that might not taste exactly the same, but goodness gracious me, it’s still absolutely delicious.
So you’re not suggesting these recipes are for all of the time, they’re made for busy people.
Henry: That’s right. We’re all humans who like to live varied lives, and I think those varied lives have an obvious cadence between weekdays and weekends and we have our own rollercoasters to go through, like Christmas and birthdays. So, we’re confident people want quick, easy but still delicious food in the week, but at the weekend, you might want to spend three hours making a dish because it’s fun. I know for a fact that whenever I do two hours of cooking on a Sunday, I really enjoy it. But one of the nice things about being empowered to cook quickly is that you can fall in love with food again, you no longer see it as a challenge, or an ordeal when you have to cook.
You’ve written books, starred in TV shows, you have a huge following on social media and you obviously cook, but what would you describe yourselves as?
Henry: There’s a word that the social networks are using a lot, which is creator. I like that. That’s what we do everyday, we create. We create videos, we create books (we write the books ourselves), and we’re constantly creating new recipes and cooking. Everything we put on social media, is giving someone a how-to. It’s all recipes, information and education. I think creator sums it up quite nicely.
What are some of the best opportunities BOSH has presented you with?
Ian: Whenever we put a recipe out – be it in a book, on social media, or a snippet in a newspaper – one of the most rewarding things that can happen is someone cooking that dish, taking a photograph of the dish, and tagging you on social media, because that dish has meant enough to them that they want to share it with their wider network.
Henry: The other thing is that it has enabled us to build a really good team of allies around us. Our audience, and our inner circle – they’re our squad. Then we have the BOSH Lounge gang who come and hang out with us on Friday nights, we play music and have a beer together. But, we also have a team of great people working with us. Our publishers, our management team, our publicist – these guys are all really smart, and really tuned to the same goals as we are. They want to see the world eating more plant-based foods, we’ve been lucky to be able to build a wicked team to help us with our mission.
You’re best friends, you’ve grown up together, lived together and you also work together. Do you ever get a bit sick of each other?
Ian: We’re both aware of the fact that we’ve built something pretty cool and we want to keep that going. Like with anybody who lives with each other, you might have the occasional tiff or short word, but we sort it out straight away.
You’ve released cake mixes with Waitrose, and just released Speedy BOSH, what’s coming up next?
Henry: In a way, we’ll carry on with what we’ve been doing. We’re very much purpose driven, this has been a life calling for us about four or five years ago and it still is now. We’ve got a new book we’re working on right now – we can’t reveal what it is, yet, but it will be dropping towards the end of next year – and we’ll carry on making books for the foreseeable future. We’ve got some exciting new food products we’ve been working on, we’re excited to be able to provide people with the opportunity to actually eat our food. We’re also going to be doing a lot more live cooking, via our new platform which we’ve just launched – BOSH Plus. We love the live cooking element, where we get to hang out with our audience.
Favourite ingredient to cook with?
Ian: I like cherry tomatoes. If you’ve got a nice punnet of cherry tomatoes you can whip up a really tasty pasta sauce, really quickly.
Henry: Potatoes. A potato in every guise is a good thing.
Favourite way to use your potato?
Henry: A really, really crispy, herby, salty roasty.
Do you have any cooking heroes?
Ian: We both grew up watching Jamie Oliver, so he would be a bit of a hero. The other guy we know quite well now is a fantastic vegan chef called Derek Sarno. He makes some wonderful food and we’ve been lucky enough to eat at his house.
Henry: There’s a guy I love who is also a YouTuber, he’s called Alex, French Guy Cooking. The way he cooks is very scientific and he goes very deep into topics.
Ian: Fruit salad – but every single piece of fruit would be the best in class. The juiciest mango, most flavourful strawberry, the crunchiest apple. Fruit is such a wonderful thing, and the best fruit is always the tastiest.
Henry: I would go for my mum’s lasagne, like she used to make for me back in the day.
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