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Celebrity Health - Henry Firth & Ian Theasby

Liz Parry chats to Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, the vegan social media sensations behind BOSH!

Housemates and friends Henry Firth and Ian Theasby are the brains behind the hugely successful vegan food platform BOSH! The Sheffield-born pair started out producing vegan cookery videos for YouTube, growing a huge following on social media. They have just released their fifth vegan cookery book and their cookery show, Living on the Veg, aired on ITV earlier this year.

Q Tell us about your newest cookbook, Speedy BOSH!

Henry: We’ve always made delicious vegan food, and we’ve tried to show people just how delicious it can be. But that’s not the only misconception that people have about vegan food – that it’s dull. People also have the misconception that it’s difficult, it takes ages to cook and you need a load of ingredients. These were the myths that we wanted to dispel with Speedy BOSH! It was really important for us to develop a quick style of cooking that we could fit into our lives so that we could be less reliant on takeaways and unhealthy, restaurant dinners. So our new book is 100 recipes, all of which take under 30 minutes to make.

Q Where did your passion for plant-based living come from?

Ian: Both Henry and I went vegan about five and a half years ago. Since then it’s been a bit of a wild ride in terms of our physical progression, because we’ve become infinitely healthier now than we ever were. Now, when we look in the mirror, we both look younger than we did five years ago! The reason why we went vegan is because we watched a documentary called Cowspiracy on Netflix. It basically opened our eyes to just how bad animal agriculture is for the environment. Before that, we hadn’t considered the environmental impact of what was on our plate. So that was a real wake-up call. And then we watched a couple of other movies as well like The Game Changers, which goes into exactly how fantastic a plant-based diet is for your health. And there’s another called Earthlings, which shines some light on animal agriculture practices as well. So, there are numerous reasons to go vegan, and we’re fully behind them all.

Q Henry, you have said that you used to be a keen meat-eater. How easy was it for you to make the switch to a plant-based diet?

Henry: Before I went vegan I had a personal trainer who would cover my plate with meat! At that point Ian had already been vegan for about a month, but I was unconvinced. What helped to change my mind was that I’ve always considered myself to be a big environmentalist and, deep down, I had this sense of uneasiness about climate change. It was when I watched Cowspiracy that I realised just how bad the current way of making meat is for the planet. It’s the vast amounts of greenhouse gases that are given off by animal agriculture, and also just how resource-intensive it is to make those animal-based foods. When I realised that, as much as I hated the idea of going vegan, I knew that I had to. And, lo and behold, I started to feel healthier and better in myself and it started to become an all-round positive decision.

Q Do you take any supplements to support your diet?

Ian: We use a vegan multivitamin spray every morning. We’ve opted for this type of supplement because vitamin sprays are better absorbed by the body. My mum’s a nurse so ever since I was a kid she was always adamant that we should take a vitamin C pill and a general multivitamin. This wasn’t to do with any deficiencies in our diet, it was just because prevention is better than cure and we’ve always done that to up our nutritional intake.

Henry: Vitamin B12 is the one thing that is good to get into your body as you may not get enough from a vegan diet. And, as the government recommends, we should all supplement with vitamin D because we don’t get enough sunlight.

Q Do you have any tips for people who would like to try a plant-based diet?

Henry: Don’t overwhelm yourself. Start off one meal at a time and see how it goes. It’s probably worth learning how to cook properly as not everybody knows how to cook. You are going to be, in effect, relearning. A top tip from us is to eat the rainbow. So get lots of colour onto your plate: colourful fruit, vegetables and whole grains.

I guess the final one is to think about your nutrition, as we mentioned before. We should all probably be taking a booster of some sort, regardless of whether you’re veggie, vegan or a meat-eater. Just learning a bit more about nutrition and taking it more seriously is a great thing to do.

Q Do you have any suggestions for store cupboard essentials that people could stock up on?

Ian: Like Henry said, it’s a really good idea to get lots of fresh fruits and vegetables in your fridge as then you’re halfway there. We’ve always said that if you’ve got an onion, some garlic, some olive oil, a tin of tomatoes and some pasta then you’ve got a really tasty, healthy meal that will be ready in just 10 minutes. Just be sure to stay away from the heavily processed foods and the saturated fat.

Q What are your favourite vegan recipes?

Ian: My personal favourite, which I go back to time and time again, and have cooked for loads of people, is our Ultimate Chilli from our first book BOSH! It’s so delicious and flavourful and packed full of really nutritious ingredients.

Henry: I would probably go for the tofu satay kebabs from our latest book. They’re absolutely delicious. You coat the tofu in this gorgeous collection of spices, crisp it up a bit with corn flour and wrap it in a little gem lettuce leaf, pop some fresh herbs on there and add a satay drizzle on top.

Q You had your first cookery show earlier this year on ITV. Did you enjoy the experience of presenting your own TV show?

Ian: The short answer is yes but I think we underestimated how tiring it would be. We filmed the whole 10-week series in three weeks. We’re used to being on camera in our own home, but when you’ve got a director, sound guys, make-up artists and all these cameramen it suddenly becomes very real. But it was a humbling experience and after the first day we found our stride. I think the show was really watchable.

Speedy BOSH! by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby is out now (HQ, HarperCollins). Headshots by Nicky Johnston.

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