Find out how The Wanted star and former Strictly Come Dancing winner went from veggie to vegan…
At just 28, Jay McGuiness has certainly crammed a lot in to his life so far. After studying at the Midlands Academy of Dance and Drama, he joined boy band The Wanted in 2010, and went on to win the 13th series of Strictly in 2015. He’s now starring in a 60s musical alongside Olympic athlete Louis Smith, Aston Merrygold from JLS and Harry Judd from McFly.
Having switched to a vegetarian diet as a teenager, the actor and singer decided to take the next step in January this year and go vegan. Since then he’s become a Violife ambassador, to help spread the word that going plant-based doesn’t have to mean giving up all of your favourite foods. We caught up with him in between performances…
What led you to go vegan?
I was a vegetarian for 16 years and completely hooked on dairy and eggs but wanted to challenge myself to start eating kinder, for animals and the environment. I’ve smashed it. Shame about onion rings though.
How has this impacted your life so far?
Only a little. I prepare myself food daily for when I’m at the theatre – I make loads of Thai dishes or Italian pasta with vegan cheese to satisfy that savoury itch, and there’s a good vegan doughnut place nearby too. But I wouldn’t recommend eating one immediately before dancing. I did, and I gave myself a sweaty mouth for a minute there. So many restaurants are creating great vegan alternatives now too – Pizza Hut recently launched a full vegan menu, which I’ve eaten my way through.
What did you eat to support your intensive training on Strictly?
I ate a lot of Greek food actually – me and Aliona would walk to a place nearby. I was vegetarian at the time and there was a massive salad with feta, I loved that wouldn’t sit too heavy on my stomach. I plan to try making a vegan version with Violife’s Greek White Block.
What is your favourite vegan dish?
Vegan chilli – there’s a million recipes, but I like mine really spicy and with loads of lentils. I also love a good old pizza – my favourite is Pizza Hut’s jackfruit one!
Do you tour? If so, how do you maintain a healthy vegan diet whilst on the road?
Right now I’m in a show called Rip it Up at the Garrick Theatre, no need to venture too far to find vegan food there. Preparing food at home is great, and honestly it’s getting easier to pick up vegan food in supermarkets. Plus, because vegans are often marketed to alongside healthy living, I find that all the sandwiches, wraps, etc on offer tend to be good for you.
What is your vision for the future?
Big question. My vision for earth is people being kind and respectful to each other, animals, and the environment. One day joining a galactic community of peace loving aliens, exchanging our history and cultures with each other. My vision for me – I’m going to be starring in Big the Musical alongside Kimberly Walsh, Wendi Peters and Mathew Kelly. So similar to the aliens things probably.
You can keep up to date with what Jay’s up to at twitter.com/JayMcGuiness