Ella Walker catches up with the TV and radio presenter, who's back with a new cookbook, Happy Vegan.

Fearne Cotton isn't actually vegan. Shock horror. In fact, she 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 (husband Jesse Woods, children Honey and Rex, and step-children Arthur and Lola), and most of her baking involves eggs.

However, the Londoner is not one to eschew reinvention. Her telly life started aged 15 as a presenter on The Disney Club, followed by Diggit alongside her long-time friend Reggie Yates. Radio 1, Top Of The Pops and Celebrity Juice presenting gigs swiftly followed, but now, instead of the celeb partying you might expect from a well-connected TV darling, her Instagram feed is a serene corner of the internet, devoted to yoga (and enviable leggings), vegan cookery, and the lessons she's learned from the empowering, positive people she interviews on her Happy Place podcast.

From kids' TV presenter to wellness conduit - the woman is all about moving forward and doing what feels right for you, when it feels right.

And so, now, she explains, "I am a vegetarian who eats probably 90% vegan." Chickens arguably take the full brunt of the fact she's not 100% there; the most challenging aspect of going totally plant-based, she says, is not eating eggs. "I do love eating eggs," she adds again, for good measure.

Then there's the fact vegan options can often be limited at times. "If I'm out travelling with work, it can be trickier," she muses, "so I may eat a little butter in those moments."

Egg and butter-fuelled work trips aside, "more and more people are eating vegan and are up for experimenting," says Cotton. Hence Happy Vegan, which she 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," adds Cotton. "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, Cotton'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 buzzes. "They're packed with flavour and so easy to make."

Cotton spent a lot of time in LA in her 20s, and ate at a lot of vegan restaurants while there, so she's found it really exciting to see so many restaurants closer to home increasingly adopting the ethos, or at least offering more interesting vegan options.

She's all about making it a lifestyle that's more accessible, especially at home, even getting her kids involved in the kitchen. "I cook with the kids a lot," she says. "They luckily love it, but it's mainly cakes they enjoy making! Banana loaves, choc energy balls - Honey's fave - chocolate cake... They love it all."

It echoes memories she made as a child herself; she recalls making jam tarts with her Nan Ruby, ones that were "super gooey with a rough crust!"

However, Cotton 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".

Ultimately, it's about finding what works for you. "If you don't eat enough or eat too much sugar, or binge on a certain food too much, you'll of course feel rubbish," she explains. "Eating in a balanced way can be challenging with how fast-paced life is, but if we have fun cooking and try new stuff, and notice how we feel after eating certain things, we have a better chance of having more energy and a better mindset."


You'll never feel left out at Wagamama again.

"This is weirdly simple. It sounds and looks like it might be time-consuming or complicated but once you've tried this recipe, you'll see just how easy it is," promises presenter Fearne Cotton.

"I adore roasted broccoli and it works so well in this curry. The more veg the better, and you're certainly getting your fill with this dish. The sauce will make your taste buds dance and you'll feel full, yet not sluggish in the slightest, after devouring this incredible dinner."


(Serves 4)

3tbsp olive oil

1 onion, finely chopped

2 carrots, cut into 1cm pieces

3 garlic cloves, crushed

3cm piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated

1tbsp mild curry powder

1tsp garam masala

1/2tsp ground turmeric

1tbsp white spelt flour

400ml vegetable stock

2tbsp soy sauce

350g Tenderstem broccoli

100g fresh breadcrumbs

3 spring onions, finely chopped

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Brown rice, to serve


1. Put half the oil into a pan and place over a medium heat. Add the onion, carrots, garlic and ginger and cook gently for eight minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are translucent, taking care not to let anything burn.

2. Add the curry powder, garam masala, turmeric and flour and stir-fry for another two minutes until fragrant. Gradually stir in the stock and soy sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until thickened and the carrots are cooked through.

3. Using a handheld or upright blender, blitz the sauce until completely smooth, adding in a little water if it is too thick. Season well, to taste.

4. Preheat the oven to 200°C/180°C fan/400°F/gas mark 6. Line a baking sheet with foil or baking parchment.

5. Toss the broccoli in the remaining oil, to coat, and season well. Roll in the breadcrumbs until evenly coated, transfer to the lined baking tray and roast for 10-15 minutes until golden and the broccoli is cooked through.

6. Divide the sauce between your plates and top with the katsu broccoli. Scatter the spring onions on top and serve with rice.


A weekend brunch that should satsify even bacon lovers.

"Eating a little bit of spice in the morning always makes me feel like I'm on holiday, so this recipe is great for weekends or days where there is no rush," says presenter and foodie Fearne Cotton.

"The potatoes are easy to cook and should be enjoyed in a leisurely manner as you enjoy every flavour that dances across your taste buds. Spice up your life and bring the exotic into your life with these vegan darlings."


(Serves 4)

800g baby new potatoes

Olive oil, for frying

200g cherry tomatoes, halved

1 onion, chopped

3tsp ground cumin

3tsp ground coriander

1tsp dried chilli flakes

5 garlic cloves, crushed

5 spring onions, finely sliced

Small handful of mint, leaves only, roughly chopped

200g soya milk yoghurt

4 slices of sourdough or white bread

2 avocados, halved, stoned and thinly sliced

Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper


1. Cook the potatoes in a large pan of boiling salted water for 15-20 minutes until tender. Drain thoroughly and cut into large bite-size pieces.

2. Coat the bottom of a large non-stick frying pan with olive oil and set over a high heat. Add the potatoes, tomatoes, onion and two-and-a-half teaspoons each of the ground cumin and coriander and half a teaspoon of the dried chilli flakes. Fry for about 12 minutes, flipping the potatoes every now and again, until golden and crispy in places. Reduce the heat, add most of the garlic and fry for another minute until aromatic. Remove from the heat and stir in the spring onions. Season to taste.

3. For the raita, mix together most of the mint and the yoghurt with the remaining garlic and spices, season to taste.

4. Toast the bread and top with the spiced potatoes, sliced avocado, raita and remaining mint leaves. Serve immediately.


Tea time means (vegan) cake time.

"This cake almost feels regal. It's rich and luxurious and is packed with fibre from the flax and the dates. It feels so moist due to the almonds and coconut oil, too. Topped with the sauce, it's as close as it gets to pure heaven," says telly gal and cookbook author, Fearne Cotton.

"I love making this sauce as it can be used in so many ways. Pour it over cakes, swirl into yoghurt or let your kids dip fruity kebabs into it as a little treat. The miso gives it such warmth and a dreamy richness."


(Makes 1 x 23cm round cake)

For the caramel:

2tbsp maple syrup

2tbsp sunflower oil

2tsp vanilla extract

2tbsp white miso paste

4tbsp coconut milk yoghurt

For the cake:

3tbsp ground flax seeds

130ml boiling water

100g pitted Medjool dates

75ml non-dairy milk

200g ground almonds

100g desiccated coconut

150g coconut palm sugar

150 coconut oil, melted

Zest of 1 lemon

1tsp baking powder

1/4tsp sea salt

1tsp vanilla extract

Non-dairy yoghurt, to serve


1. Preheat the oven to 180°C/160°C fan/350°F/gas mark 4. Line the cake tin fully with baking parchment.

2. For the caramel, combine all the ingredients together in a bowl until completely smooth, cover and refrigerate.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together the ground flax seeds and water. Set aside for two minutes.

4. Place the dates in a food processor and add the flax seed mixture. Blitz to form a sticky paste. Add the milk, with the motor still running, and blitz until combined, then transfer to a large bowl.

5. Add the remaining cake ingredients to the food processor and mix until thoroughly combined. Pour the mixture into the cake tin and use the back of a spoon to level the surface. Bake in the centre of the oven for 35-45 minutes or until an inserted skewer comes out clean. If the top is browning too quickly, cover with foil. Remove and leave to cool in the tin for 10 minutes, then turn out onto a wire cooling rack to cool completely.

6. When ready to serve, remove the caramel from the fridge, stir and then drizzle over the cake and serve with some yoghurt on the side. Keep any leftovers for up to three days in an airtight container.

* Happy Vegan: Easy Plant Based Recipes To Make The Whole Family Happy by Fearne Cotton, photography by Andrew Burton, is published by Orion Spring, priced £20. Available now.