Cotton on to eating in a balanced way
Fearne Cotton isn’t actually vegan. Shock horror. In fact, the TV and radio presenter is quick to note: “I bloody love an omelette.”
And yet, the 38-year-old has written an entirely plant-based, animal-free cookbook, Happy Vegan.
In its introduction, she explains this isn’t a contradiction. Vegetarian from the age of 12, with a brief foray into pescatarianism in her 20s, she still cooks meat, fish and dairy for her family and most of her baking involves eggs.
She said: “I am a vegetarian who eats probably 90 per cent vegan.”
Chickens arguably take the full brunt of the fact she’s not 100 per cent there; the most challenging aspect of going totally plant-based, she says, is not eating eggs. Then there’s the fact vegan options can often be limited at times.
She mused: “If I’m out travelling with work, it can be trickier, so I may eat a little butter in those moments.”
Egg and butter-fuelled work trips aside, she feels more and more people are eating vegan and are up for experimenting. Hence Happy Vegan, which Fearne says is for “vegans; people that have never tried vegan; and those like myself, who eat a lot of vegan food but want to learn more,” – and that’s regardless of the motivation behind your decision.
“We all have a better understanding these days of how food affects us, and also how our food choices affect the planet,” she added. “Whenever you decide to eat vegan, whether it be for a month or once a week on a Monday, it’s still going to be beneficial to you and the planet.”
In terms of the recipes, “fun and easy” is her mantra – so don’t expect to have to go shopping for a vast array of new ingredients, or for a specific vegan larder.
There are cauliflower steaks and tofu fingers, tomato dahl and vegetable kofta wraps, plus the odd recipe that might raise a few surprised eyebrows. Take her blueberry and cannellini bean tray bake with tahini and maple syrup icing, Fearne’s way of tricking her kids into eating more protein.
And she is particularly proud of her veggie black bean sausages. “I was dead-set on creating my own kind of homemade banger,” she buzzed. “They’re packed with flavour and so easy to make.”
Fearne’s all about making it a lifestyle that’s more accessible, especially at home, even getting her kids involved in the kitchen.
She said: “I cook with the kids a lot. It’s mainly cakes they enjoy making! Banana loaves, choc energy balls, chocolate cake... they love it all.”
However, Fearne understands that not everyone finds cooking enjoyable, and it can feel even more daunting if you’re trying vegan recipes for the first time.
Her advice – particularly if cooking is something you find stressful – is to “keep trying to cook from scratch for fun,” and to “put great music on, take your time if you can, and be proud of what you created”.