The Great British Bake Off will introduce its first vegan contestant for the upcoming season of the cult-classic United Kingdom cooking show. The baking competition will host amateur baker Freya Cox during its next season, marking the first time a plant-based contestant has had the chance to win one of the world’s most popular baking competitions. Cox will compete against 11 other contestants starting on September 21.

Even though the program challenges bakers to occasionally create baked goods without dairy, the competition has yet to put plant-based baking into the spotlight. Cox said that feels “genuinely blessed” to share her passion for vegan baking and highlight the potential of plant-based baked goods. The nineteen-year-old baker hopes that she will reach out to a larger audience, proving to the judges and the viewers the potential of vegan baking.

“A year ago, Freya began making plant-based versions of classic bakes for her dad – now it’s her goal to bake so that no one can tell the results are vegan. She likes to be ‘unexpected’ with her baking and enjoys creating intricate designs… and usually makes a lot of mess in the process,” Cox’s bio reads.

The plant-based contestant told Channel 4 that she defines her baking by “intricate details” claiming that she is a “massive perfectionist.” The introduction of this vegan contestant is a historical move for the popular television series. The show has increasingly included challenges that omit dairy products or feature vegan recipes.

The Great British Bake Off put vegan baking in the spotlight for the first time in 2018 when the show featured its first vegan week. The show challenges its contestants to cook tarts, meringues, and a tiered cake without any animal products. The show aimed to both present an extra challenge to the bakers but also recognize the growing plant-based consumer demand and audience.

“We wanted something different and something to represent what was happening in this country. Veganism is something that seems to be growing. That’s why it is in,” Paul Hollywood said at the time. “If you are a vegan or you’re thinking about it and are just worried about how it is going to change your life, watch it and see. It fascinated me, totally … shocked me as well.”

Earlier this year, another highly acclaimed cooking show, Hell’s Kitchen, featured its first two plant-based chefs during the latest season’s competition. Legendary chef Gordon Ramsay welcomed vegan chef Josie Clemens and vegetarian chef Emily Hersh for the “Young Guns” season of Hell’s Kitchen. This marked the first time the notably not-vegan chef invited plant-based contestants to the show, meeting the rising need for vegan eating across media.

“Six million people who normally watch a meat cooking show are about to be exposed to veganism,” Clemens wrote on her Instagram announcing her place on the show at the time. “Being the first vegan chef means that this is a golden opportunity to lead people compassionately. So they have an opportunity to discover their innate pure nature is connected to the Earth and all beings.”

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