First vegan baker on the 'Great British Baking Show' shares what it was really like on the series

freya cox on the great british bake off / great british baking show
Freya Cox is the show's first vegan baker.Love Productions
  • Freya Cox became the first vegan baker to compete on "The Great British Baking Show" in 2021.

  • The baker said judges Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith were supportive of her doing vegan bakes.

  • Cox, whose cookbook is out Tuesday, said audiences responded positively to her vegan baking.

As one of the youngest contestants and the first vegan baker on the 12th season of "Great British Baking Show," Freya Cox has already made a name for herself.

Now, the 20-year-old is ready to teach home bakers — vegan or not — how to make plant-based treats at home with her first cookbook, "Simply Vegan Baking," out Tuesday.

While promoting her book, Cox spoke to Insider about vegan baking and her time on the popular British show.

Cox became the first vegan baker on the show in 2021

freya cox on season 12 fo the great british baking show
Freya Cox has been baking for years but she wasn't vegan for long before being on the show.Love Productions

Although Cox has been baking for a long time, she said she'd only been fully vegan for about one year before she was on the show.

In 2021, she became the first contestant to make vegan bakes week after week. (Previously, the show had only dabbled in vegan baking, hosting its first Vegan Week, where bakers made plant-based recipes for all three challenges, in 2018.)

The only time Cox was not able to make vegan bakes was during the show's technical challenges, in which bakers all make the same recipe with minimal instructions. For those, bakers cannot request specific ingredients.

At the time, Cox received backlash for using animal products and apologized on her Instagram after the show aired, saying it would have been "unfair" if she was given alternate ingredients.

Still, she's since "veganized" some of those technical-challenge recipes at home. She said her vegan version of malt loaf, which bakers made during week one, has received raved reviews from those who have tried it.

"I mean, the whole show was the best thing I've ever done. I wouldn't change it for anything, would go back and do it any day," she told Insider. "All the people were incredible."

She also said both of the show's judges — Paul Hollywood and Prue Leith — were incredibly supportive of her.

Cox recalled Leith having a "lovely" reaction to her being a vegan baker, telling her on week one that it's "so amazing" all of her bakes would be plant-based. She said Hollywood was also supportive.

"When I left, he was so great about it because the point we are at in life now, even if you're not vegan, people are understanding why people are doing it," she told Insider.

Cox said she had a great experience — and hopes she inspires more people to try vegan baking

freya cox and other bakers on the great british bake off / great british baking show
Freya Cox hopes to encourage more people to try vegan recipes.Love Productions

Overall, she said she felt the audience responded pretty positively to her plant-based baking, even if they weren't vegan themselves.

"Loads of people that weren't fully vegan were just like, 'I think it's really inspiring,'" Cox told Insider. "I think people also were thinking, 'Oh, we look like we're moving a step in the right direction for the future.'"

Even though it can feel like a big step, Cox hoped her presence on a major TV series like "Great British Baking Show" would inspire people to try baking even one vegan recipe at home.

"I still get messages now of people being like, 'I was so inspired to try being vegan or just bake something vegan after watching you on the show,' and that was all I ever really wanted to do," she said.

Freya Cox's first cookbook "Simply Vegan Baking" is out September 27. 

Read the original article on Insider