Veggies are being put centre stage
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Si King and Dave Myers chat to Katie Wright about keeping busy during lockdown, and why they decided to write a veggie cookbook.
Zooming across the globe on two wheels, stopping off to sample delicious delicacies along the way, best mates Si King and Dave Myers – aka the Hairy Bikers – have been a near-constant fixture on our TV screens for nearly 15 years.
The jovial duo had big plans for 2020 – but when the first lockdown began they were forced to retire to their respective homes at opposite ends of England, and didn’t see each other again until July.
“I’ve never been away from me mate for that long – it was five months,” says King.
Despite separated for months, it didn’t stop them from completing one big project together, their first Hairy Bikers’ vegetarian cookbook.
“We did a book a few years ago in the dieters series [The Hairy Dieters Go Veggie], and it was at the back of our minds after that,” says Myers. “We thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be great to do a vegetarian book which is for meat-eaters really?’”
The Hair Bikers’ Veggie Feasts (which also features some vegan recipes) is about “putting veggies centre stage”, King says, explaining that the pals were partly inspired by their own children.
“It’s been a conversation that’s gone on within our families for a very long time. My middle son James is vegan. He’s done it from a moral point of view, but also from an environmental point of view.”
The impact of the meat industry on climate change is also a concern for the pair, something they noticed while biking through the US.
King says: “Dave and I travelled through the Midwest in the States and – not to put too fine a point on it, and you can draw your own conclusions – on the plains and outskirts of Oklahoma, there is at any one time upwards of one million head of cattle. And that’s just in Oklahoma.”
Cutting down on animal fats was another motivating factor for creating meat-free recipes.
A decade ago, the pair overhauled their eating and exercise habits, losing nearly seven stone between them, and have maintained their healthier lifestyles ever since. “Dave and I are of a certain age. where we have to watch our weight for various health reasons,” says King.
As well as lowering fat consumption, eating more veg-packed recipes ups the nutrient element too – as long as you don’t replace the leafy greens with masses of things like cheese or cream, of course.
“The Japanese always say that you need five colours on the plate, to make sure you’re getting the vitamins and minerals you need,” says Myers.
“I like to eat more vegetables for health as well – I’m not getting any younger and my body feels better on it.”
He estimates that he eats meat around three times a week now, while King says his diet is about 85 per cent plant-based.
The Hairy Bikers’ Veggie Feasts by Si King and Dave Myers, photography by Andrew Hayes-Watkins, is published by Seven Dials, priced £22. Available now.