Five minutes with... Henry Firth and Ian Theasby

Unable to go on a book tour during the pandemic, Henry Firth and Ian Theasby have had a productive year crafting new recipes in the kitchen. Chantal Da Silva chats with the vegan chefs behind BOSH! about their latest cookbook and what’s next 

Wednesday 02 December 2020 14:48
Ian Theasby (left) and Henry Firth (right) are working on a new cookbook for 2021 after publishing their latest set of plant-based recipes in Speedy BOSH!
Ian Theasby (left) and Henry Firth (right) are working on a new cookbook for 2021 after publishing their latest set of plant-based recipes in Speedy BOSH!

Over the past five years, you have built something of a vegan empire. What led you to focus on vegan plant-based cooking? 

Initially, Ian went vegan. He was on a January health kick and challenge, so he went vegetarian and then that turned into vegan… Sooner or later, we watched Cowspiracy, the movie, and I [Henry], was convinced and turned vegan overnight. 

What we both found is that we just felt amazing after making the decision. Our bodies felt better, our hair started to feel better, our sleep felt better and we just felt lighter in our bodies. It was all just a very positive decision, which made it really easy to keep going.

After that, we realised this was something we wanted to share with the world. Five years ago, there wasn’t all that information out there, so we saw an opportunity and we also had a calling, which was to promote this thing that we really care about.

In recent years, there has been a surge in interest in veganism, as well as in demand for plant-based products and recipes. What has that shift been like for you?

It’s like a night and day difference now compared to how it was five years ago. We kind of hoped that it would get this kind of traction and that it would grow to this level. We hoped for it, but I don’t think we expected it. 

It’s been wonderful to see the shift changes in diet in general. The reasons people usually go vegan are around three different sort of pillars: animal welfare, health reasons and for the environmental impact. These are all positive, so whichever way people approach this, it’s positive. 

Has the surge in interest translated to more engagement with your cookbooks and YouTube channel?

The surge in demand has definitely had an impact on the sales…It’s been really nice to see people trying out vegan cooking. 

I think it’s almost a rite of passage when you go vegan to buy the BOSH! cookbook. We’re really pleased to have been able to help with all those people transitioning or trying out veganism for the first time.

Does it also mean more competition in what was once a less competitive market?

Every single vegan recipe that’s put online is a good thing. We don’t see anyone as competition; we see them as collaborators in the fight against the status quo.

Every time somebody posts a vegan recipe online, we’re like, “well done, this is marvellous!” The more vegan food out there the better.

Speedy BOSH! by Henry Firth & Ian Theasby is out now

Speaking of vegan recipes, your latest book, Speedy BOSH! is all about helping people create “quick” and “easy” dishes in the kitchen. What inspired this new book?

All of our books that we’ve put out have been about trying to change people’s perceptions… The first book, BOSH!, was all about showing people that vegan food can actually be delicious and replace their favourite meals. The second book was kind of the same thing and the third book was all about showing that vegan food can be really healthy as well if done right. 

One of the preconceptions that people have about plant-based food in general is that it takes absolutely ages and is a real faff in the kitchen. So, we have to dispel that myth. 

We wanted to show people that you can whack something together in 15, 20 or 25 minutes and use just a handful of ingredients and have it taste wonderful and be enough to satisfy people. 

Are there any other preconceptions around plant-based food that you have to contend with as vegan chefs?

Some people think that vegan food is tasteless… that it’s just really grey and horrible or boring or it’s just some rabbit food. That’s not the case, as hopefully our books show. 

People also talk about veganism being unhealthy, but it really, really isn’t if you’re doing it right. The US Diet Association say that a vegan diet is suitable and appropriate and healthy for human beings of all ages, from babies to children to the elderly and everyone in between… A vegan well-planned and balanced diet is incredibly healthy.

If you had to pick, what are your favourite recipes in the Speedy BOSH! cookbook?

The mac and cheese and the tofu kebabs…The [tofu kebabs] are absolutely incredible. If you’re going to make one recipe from this book, try that one. 

Tofu satay kebabs with fresh herbs 

This past year has been unlike any other. What impact has the pandemic had on you? 

To be honest, in some ways it’s impacted us positively, because we live and work in the same place and didn’t have to do any press engagements or have to do book tours. We were just kind of in the house, in the kitchen, with a camera and the only kind of shopping we did was in the supermarket, so we’ve probably had one of our most productive periods ever.

We’ve written a new book, we’re constantly putting out loads of new recipes. We’ve found it to be a very productive time… but we miss people. 

One of the funnest things is getting to meet people in book shops around the world and around the UK and we’ve really missed that aspect of what we do.

Can you reveal any details on the forthcoming book?

It will be coming out definitely in 2021. We can’t really reveal the title just yet… but hopefully that will be coming soon. We’re very excited about that.

Are there any other big plans in the works for 2021?

We’re going to keep making free recipes for everybody… and we’ve got food in supermarkets, which is wicked and there’s going to be more of that coming in 2021, which we’re so excited about. It’s such an honour to walk into a store and see your products on the shelves.

This ‘ultimate’ mac and cheese dish is creamy and delectable - without any dairy

We’re going to keep on doing TV and when it makes sense, one of our big focuses for 2021 is going to be our video channels. We’re actually working on a new video channel which is going be a special channel called Bosh+. There’s going to be a Christmas course on there and mostly we’re going to be doing live cooking on there. 

It sounds like BOSH! is moving full-steam ahead…

We’re coming to the end of 2020 and it’s always good to reflect on the year that’s passed and to make plans for the year that’s coming so our plan for 2021 is to not take our foot off the gas pedal. It’s to carry on putting out really good content, carry on putting out really good products, to put out this fantastic book and to keep on moving this vegan thing as far as we possibly can. 

Henry Firth and Ian Theasby are the creators of vegan food platform BOSH!. The Speedy BOSH! cookbook is available for purchase

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