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BOSH! duo go back to their roots for vegan food that is cheap and cheerfully tasty

© Lizzie Mayson / PAHenry Firth and Ian Leasby hard at work in the kitchen
Henry Firth and Ian Leasby hard at work in the kitchen

Whether you’re attempting Veganuary, going full vegan or just want to cut down your meat consumption and be a bit healthier in 2022, learning a few new plant-based recipes is a good place to start.

Henry Firth, who makes up half of vegan power duo BOSH!, along with pal Ian Theasby, says: “Vegan food has exploded and now it’s all over the supermarkets. You’ve got burgers, sausages, fish alternatives, milk alternatives – the problem is, that stuff can be quite an expensive.”

So for their sixth cookbook – BOSH! On A Budget – the pair, both 37, wanted to show people the grassroots of vegan cooking instead.

“It’s grains, fruits, nuts and seeds, so it’s inherently cheap and it’s inherently healthy,” says Firth.

The dishes come in at £1 or £2 a portion – and many cost less. And it was easy, says Theasby, “because vegan food is actually, very cheap”.

There are recipes simply using tinned tomatoes, for example. “If you sieve off the sauce and then roast the tomatoes, you get some fantastic, deep, rich flavours,” says Firth.

But saving money in the kitchen is often as much about how you cook, as it is about the ingredients. For example, you could cook a 10-portion vegan ragu and use it in several dishes – from lasagne to bolognaise. A lot of their recipes are designed to be freezer-friendly, too.

Less waste means less money wasted as well, and it’s good for the environment – a big reason the duo went plant-based in the first place.

Firth says: “A colourful fruits and vegetable-based diet is affordable and pretty much the best thing as far as your body is concerned.”

It’s been seven years since the childhood friends went vegan themselves and through their YouTube channel, BOSH.TV and a massive social media presence, they’ve quelled many misconceptions about veganism – yet for men, they feel like there’s still a social acceptance issue.

“There’s definitely still some stigma attached to men being vegan,” says Theasby.

“It might be a little more difficult for men to decide to make the change to veganism.”

The idea that eating lots of meat and drinking lager is “manly” is embedded in our culture, he says, but those negative aspects of British culture are becoming unravelled and changing for the better.

In fact, some of the biggest influencers on the vegan food scene are men – including seven-time Formula One champion Lewis Hamilton and footballer Fabian Delph. Theasby adds: “The more men you see on social media, or in magazines and on TV cooking vegan food is going to go a long way to help other men who are on the cusp of changing their diet, to make them think it’s actually OK.”

As we become more and more aware of the environmental footprint of what’s on our plates, new ways to use plants, beans and other natural vegan ingredients are being discovered and developed all the time. So what else does the future hold for the world of plant-based eating?

Well, you might be seeing more TVP (or hearing about it for the first time perhaps).

“It’s quite esoteric, little known and a bit weird. TVP is textured vegetable protein – essentially soybeans that are dried out,” explains Firth. “They’re high in protein, nutrient-dense, and you can buy them crazy cheap dried, and then you can turn them into your own meat replacement, hitting them with flavour.”

There’s also plant-based “fish” made from algae. “The cool thing is that you get omega oils in it. You can make a gorgeous tuna or salmon replacement with that,” Firth says.

Then there’s banana blossom, which Firth describes as “a flower from the end of the banana tree cooked a lot in Thai food. It’s flaky in appearance and takes on flavour.”

But the starting point of animal-free cooking is simple, wholesome, cheap ingredients – and if you’re new to it and want to give it a go, Firth says preparation is key.

“Whether that’s buying a cookbook, planning a couple of recipes, getting a shop in, so that you’ve got what you need to get you through three, four, five days.”


 

BOSH! On A Budget by Henry Firth and Ian Theasby, photography by Lizzie Mayson, HQ, £16.99