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Former engineer harnesses social media to become vegan guru

Brett Cobley from Burton-on-Trent has turned passion for plant-based diet into career with best-selling book and TV appearance

Former engineer harnesses social media to become vegan guru

"I started a website, went on the TV show and then got the book deal it's been amazing how things have turned out"
Brett Cobley

An engineer who started posting his vegan meals on social media has quit his job, written a best-selling recipe book and struck a deal with a leading olive oil company – all in the space of a year.

Brett Cobley from Burton-on-Trent, better known as 'EpiVegan', is proof that passion and ambition can lead to your dream job.

Now he’s creating his own plant-based recipes, enjoying a huge social media following and encouraging others to rethink the impact of what is on their plates. 

His cookbook, 'What Vegans Eat', has already sold out TWICE on Amazon. 

Just over 12 months ago the 28-year-old was living in Nottingham and working as a manufacturing engineer in the automotive industry. 

He made the life-changing decision to turn vegan a year earlier, excluding all animal products, after watching a video on YouTube.

Brett, always a keen cook, switched to a plant-based diet overnight and gradually started to get more creative with his recipes.

Getting to grips with his new lifestyle and eating plan, he started to post images of his meals on Instagram and quickly gained interest from followers who liked what they saw.

The interest inspired him to go on ITV's The Big Audition, a reality show similar to Dragon's Den where people with certain talents can strike deals with like-minded established companies.

Brett ended up winning a contract with popular olive oil brand Filippo Berio, creating delicious vegan recipes for the company's website.

That arrangement also led to a publishing deal.

"The past 12 months have been a whirlwind," said Brett. "It all began when I started posting images of my meals on Instagram and then detailing the recipes.

"I started a website, went on the TV show and then got the book deal.

"It's been amazing how things have turned out."

Brett, who is now working on a second book, added: "Before I was a full-on meat eater, I would eat meat practically three times a day.

"I made the conscious decision that I was going to turn vegan for moral, ethical and environmental reasons. 

"So I was very committed to sticking to it.”

For the first few weeks Brett struggled on a plant-based diet – “living off berries and nuts" – and admits at first he didn't know what to eat.

"I mainly ate raw because I was so committed to making it work," he said. 

But a trip to some vegan restaurants in London proved hugely inspirational.

"It was a real eye-opener," said Brett. "Once I figured I could make vegan pizza and have a lot of dry pasta and things like that, I was well away because so many things I liked were pasta-based. 

"I was always a keen cook and I soon understood all of the things I could eat."

He started posting his creations and soon followers were asking for the recipes which he shared on his page.

"It grew from there,” he said. “I was starting to make YouTube videos and then began a website where I would post the recipes.

“Now I've got my book out and it's doing really well, smashing all the targets we set. I couldn't be happier.

“The timing was great, winning the ITV show. It was a really good learning process for me. Now I'm looking forward to writing a second recipe book.”

With his hectic new life, Brett, who lives in West London, occasionally struggled with sleep but turned to CBD cannabis oil to help him with his insomnia. 

CBD Armour which is sold as a food supplement and contains only trace amounts of the psychoactive part tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), was his choice. It's perfectly legal in the UK. 

"It used it to chill me out before I went to bed,” he said. “I also used it for any muscle aches from working out.

"That's' my experience with it. I notice I'm a little bit more chilled when I take it too."