Dirty Vegan: My hangover food is Linda McCartney sausages and chips
The 'Dirty Vegan’ Matt Pritchard from Dirty Sanchez aims to prove you can be plant-based, yet keep the party going
Matt Pritchard: “I’m currently getting a bit of abuse online because of the vegan thing. I’m not exactly friendly with our local farmers at the moment.”
What the cast of Dirty Sanchez – the British equivalent of the MTV stunt/prank show Jackass – have done in the name of good telly is barely fit to print. Stomach-churning exploits were very much part of their modus operandi, leading the cast members to ingest some very questionable things down the years.
“There was the time we had a game in Thailand where [cast member] Joycey had to drink a litre of Pancho’s liposuction fat,” says the collective’s co-founder Matt Pritchard, referring to one of the show’s most audacious moments. “We went to a clinic, got the fat and went round the corner where he drank it.”
Pritchard, too, wasn’t entirely without sin on a similar front: “I had to pop a few cow’s eyeballs in my time,” he admits.
I knew I was going really south when my skin got a slightly yellowish tint
Amazingly, it wasn’t the proto-Bushtucker trials that made Pritchard consider a life of veganism. Three years ago, he decided that he was doing “too much of everything”, and decided on a life clean-up. A much-publicised 2015 event, where Pritchard reportedly urinated on Hollywood star Dolph Lundgren’s feet during a naked plane rampage, is likely to have expedited the turnaround.
“When Dirty Sanchez came out (in the mid-noughties), my life went from nought to 11 partying,” the Welsh man recalls in his trademark gravelly voice. “Don’t get me wrong – it was fun, but Christ almighty, there’s only a certain amount of hangovers you can have for before it started catching up on me. I knew I was going really south when my skin got a slightly yellowish tint. Every week it was another house party, same old s**t.
“Originally, the life change meant that I was doing a lot of triathlons and Iron Man events, and I researched why a lot of endurance athletes turned out to be vegans. And then I watched Cowspiracy (a hard-hitting Netflix documentary, roundly credited by many vegans as a ‘turning point’ event), and that really did it for me.”
I don’t say to anyone, ‘don’t eat meat’. There’s no point in me telling people that I’m here to educate them
Even with a hefty number of charity endurance events now under his belt – at one point undertaking 30 half Iron Man events in 30 days – Pritchard doesn’t immediately strike people as a poster child for clean, ascetic vegan living. He’s keenly aware of the disconnect himself.
“I mean, I’m currently getting a bit of abuse online because of the vegan thing,” he explains. “I’m not exactly friendly with our local farmers at the moment. I’m not preachy about it – I don’t say to anyone, ‘don’t eat meat’. There’s no point in me telling people that I’m here to educate them. If people like it, happy days. I was expecting [the abuse] though as vegans are often seen as a bit preachy. I mean, what do you expect?
“I think a lot of people think vegans are hippies, but soon they realise someone like me has gone plant-based and they’re like, ‘hang on a minute, I might look into this’.”
Pritchard is only too happy to dispel the myth that veganism is best left to a privileged and health-conscious elite (making the point that organic meat can be every bit as wallet-busting as a steady supply of oat milk). Hence the title of his new book and TV show, Dirty Vegan. Far from being about the benefits of kale and quinoa, Pritchard proves that you can be plant-based, yet keep the party going.
“Lots of people for some reason ask me, ‘what do you have for a hangover?’ but there’s loads of stuff,” he notes. “I get a wrap and add Linda McCartney sausages, chips and barbecue sauce. Away you go. And there’s a vegan doner kebab in the book, too.”
I had it [the Greggs vegan sausage roll] yesterday. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the two, and this one has more protein
That’s soakage sorted, but what about a big fry-up? Easy, he notes. “Try a vegan fry-up with tofu scramble,” he says. “Trust me, there’s a lot of sh**ty vegan food to be had out there too. In Cardiff, I had something from a takeaway called a Big Mock, and it really does taste the same as a Big Mac.”
As it happens, Pritchard and I speak in the week that “Greggs-gate” has swept across the United Kingdom. The High Street bakers famously released a vegan sausage roll, to the apparent delight of vegans and the ire of carnivores. The whole episode was hailed a masterclass in PR, with journalist Piers Morgan pushing things even further into the public’s conscience by tweeting: “Nobody was waiting for a vegan bloody sausage, you PC-ravaged clowns.”
Of the sausage roll in question, Pritchard notes: “I had it yesterday. I honestly couldn’t tell the difference between the two, and this one has more protein.
“People like Piers Morgan are doing us a favour,” he adds. “It’s like, ‘everyone’s talking about this so let’s have a look’. Cheers, Piers.”
Whether by dint of accident or design, Dirty Vegan hits bookstores at the precise moment that veganism is very much having a moment. McDonald’s has created vegan Happy Meals, M&S’s Plant Kitchen Range has more than 60 products, Dunnes has released a vegan pizza and TGI Friday now has a “bleeding” vegan burger.
The BBC has also clearly noticed the accessibility factor of a former MTV prankster espousing a plant-based lifestyle, and has enlisted him to front its first ever vegan cookery show, Dirty Vegan. The series sees Pritchard enlist in a number of challenges, among them creating a vegan meal for a women’s rugby team, a vegan school lunch, and a cake taste challenge with members of the Women’s Institute.
“I made meringues out of chickpea juice,” he reveals. “These ladies know their s**t and don’t mess about, but they gave me 19 and a half points for them. Out of 20. Like, bloody hell.”
Matt Pritchard’s book Dirty Vegan is out now via Octopus Books (octopusbooks.co.uk)