Bret
Vegan Life meets...

Brett Cobley

\"Draw people in with tasty food, then explain the ethical and environmental plight of our generation\"

A vegan for over five years and a chef for many more, Brett Cobley knows a thing or two about cooking up delicious food. Brett's debut cookbook, What Vegans Eat, was a myriad of delights and we are excited to see what his next cookbook, due for release this year, will help us to make. We chat to the inspiring chef and mental health advocator about his much-anticipated new book, as well as his vegan journey and foodie guilty pleasure.

Hey, Brett! How would you describe your cooking style?

I like to think of my cooking style as experimental. Most people out there find a few recipes that they like and rotate them every week for their dinner. So, I think it is up to me to do the experimenting and find the new classics for you to add to your repertoire.

How and why did you get into cooking?

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Tell us about your vegan journey.

After a brief chat about veganism with a non-vegan I realised I didn't really know anything about it. I watched a video called 101 reasons to go vegan and it set me off down a rabbit hole of research. When I couldn't pick holes in the argument, I decided I'd give it a go. That was about five years ago now.

\"Food waste is a huge issue that you need to look a little deeper on. It's not just about wasting the ingredient itself but about all of the compound effects\"

Why is food waste such a problem, and how do you try to combat it in your cooking?

Food waste is a huge issue that you need to look a little deeper on. It's not just about wasting the ingredient itself but about all of the compound effects. The water used to grow it, the potential deforestation to grow it, the transport used to get it to a supermarket, the plastic it might have been wrapped in and then for it to end up in the bin. What a travesty. Not to mention the roughly one billion people in the world starving.

I try to combat this by giving the people the tools they need to reduce their own food waste. Helping them know how to repurpose their leftovers or how to correctly store food so you keep it fresh as long as possible. Sometimes it is as simple as encouraging people to not shop on an empty stomach as we are hardwired to be greedy when hungry.

What can we expect from your new cookbook, set for release later in 2021?

I have tried to combat food waste as much as I can by educating people on how to store their food, what ingredients they can freeze and including as many non-perishable items as I can, while giving them bomb-proof tasty vegan recipes.

What is your food guilty pleasure?

Picky Wops pizza! (pickywops.com) They are a vegan pizzeria on Brick Lane Shoreditch, London, and they create magic.

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As well as creating awareness around veganism, you also use your platforms to discuss mental health issues. Why is this important to you?

Good mental health is so important. It might not appear to us as obvious and dramatic as physical issues like a broken leg would, but it kills 5,700 people every year in Britain, most of which are young men. There is no doubt that the stigma attached causes more harm by keeping people isolated when they should talk about it. I just want to talk about it more myself to help others feel like they can, too. You're not alone!

If you're hosting a dinner party, what do you cook to impress your guests?

I love cooking for guests. If I want to blow people away, I create a three-course Italian menu. Arancini, carbonara and tiramisu. Bellissimo!

What stats do people need to hear to call them to act to help the planet?

There are seven billion people on the planet and all of them are 'just one person', so before you think you can't have an impact yourself remember that everyone is able to do their part.

Doing something is better than doing nothing. I'd love for everyone to go vegan overnight. But the world needs action, and it needs it now. So, if you 'could go vegan but couldn't live without cheese', then put your money where your mouth is. Stop making excuses and go vegan except for cheese. Then when you realise there's so many great vegan cheese brands take a look at changing that, too. Who knows, maybe it's vegan cheese you can't live without?

Have you got any more exciting projects planned for 2021?

There are so many amazing things coming in 2021. For starters, I am creating a second amazing book to help everyone on their vegan journey. But I am also creating courses to help teach people the fundamentals of vegan cooking. In 2021, I also want to partner with more charities to spread awareness about mental health. Spreading good vibes is also on my list.

For more from Brett, visit brettcobley.com or follow @brettcobley on Instagram.

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.