Mat Pritchard talks to Dom Smith about motivation, personal growth and his attitudes towards mental health.
Matthew Pritchard is a man whose career looks drastically different now than it did at its onset. Rising to notoriety 20 years ago with stunt and prank show Dirty Sanchez, Pritchard is now widely visible as a vegan chef and triathlon athlete. With this year seeing the launch of vegan supplement company SWYD Supplements and the third Dirty Vegan book, Dirty Vegan: Fast and Easy, Pritchard sat down with Soundsphere’s Dom Smith to reflect on his career and personal growth, anxiety and how he maintains motivation.
There is a clear air of self-determination around Pritchard, starting six days a week at 4am to relentlessly throw himself into a workout, fuelled by a brew of Slayer, Black Sabbath and coffee. Considering this, it’s no wonder he has developed such a busy schedule and full portfolio. Through a two-decade career, he has discovered his innate personal drive. “I know I’m someone who doesn’t give up very easily. I’m a stubborn bugger. Even though there’s loads of days where I go ‘I’m just gonna chuck the towel in’ I can’t do it. I just can’t. I have to keep going. I’m an over-achiever. Some people say ‘you need to slow down.’ I can’t. I’ve tried to slow down. Nothing I ever do is in moderation. It’s either all or nothing.”
A year into sobriety, his development and personal growth seems especially prevalent. “That person you’ve seen for years in Dirty Sanchez, that’s not the guy you really see. I am a very shy guy. I’m very quiet, who likes his own company. Being around people I find pretty hard. Through my year of sobriety, I knew I was using alcohol to mask all these kinds of problems. I’m still on the journey of trying to get used to being that person that doesn’t need alcohol to be in a social situation. It’s something I’m learning on the daily. Once you get rid of one, you need to deal with the next onslaught of S-H-I-T. Slowly but surely, it’s something I’m working on.”
Fitness is essential to Pritchard. A vocal advocate of mental health, he credits his dedication to fitness as a core motivator. “I realised that I need the gym. If I don’t do it, my head goes south. And I know that, so I have to do it. Sometimes, like this morning, I don’t want to wake up at 4 o’clock. Some days I get up when the alarm goes off and I’m full of beans and I’m looking forward to the day. But today, I didn’t want to get up at 4. You never want to get out of bed, it’s this comfortable place, it’s warm. You’ve just got to have a word with yourself. That’s exactly what I did this morning. I say ‘look, get out of bed. You know when you get out, you’re going to be fine.’ And I was, I’m stoked now. I’m happy I did that.”
Acknowledging that his experience may not be universal, Pritchard continues “I can’t really speak for people with problems because I’m not experienced in it. Everyone’s different, I guess. I think the best thing for you is to be outside. Don’t watch the TV all the time – the TV’s a load of absolute rubbish these days. Unless I’m on it cooking of course. Definitely don’t watch the news, try not to scroll on your social media. It’s rich coming from me – try to be present and stuff – even though I do all this kind of stuff my head is a hundred miles an hour. I can’t sit there for too long with my own thoughts. If I do I make myself crazy, I start thinking of things that aren’t happening and aren’t there. I think there will be a lot of people that can relate to that.”
The celebrity lifestyle that came with Dirty Sanchez isn’t something that Pritchard longs for. “Back in the day I absolutely loved it. I’ve always said that. I loved every single minute of it. Now as I get older – and don’t get me wrong when people recognise me in the street it’s really nice – I try to avoid it really. My missus said ‘you’re the most flamboyant introvert I’ve ever met.’ When I was drinking – I still wear quite flamboyant clothes and stuff – I’d be this life and soul of the party, but inside I’m really this introverted person who’d just like to stay away from all of it. I used to like it, I’m not a massive fan of it anymore. Although I do appreciate it when people are fans of what you do, that’s great, and I’d give anyone the time of day. I did back in the day as well. I’m happier on my own in a field in the middle of nowhere with my dog. The peaceful life. That’s why I go to the gym early in the morning, because there’s no one in there. If anything, I try to hide from crowds.”
The success Mathew has achieved is varied in its form, from success as part of Dirty Sanchez and now as a celebrity chef, to a popular series of cookbooks. To Pritchard, success is secondary. “What is success? I just do stuff I enjoy doing. I think when you do something you enjoy doing, success comes with it. 10 years ago, if someone had said that I was gonna be a TV chef, I would’ve laughed in their face and they’d have laughed too.”
With said success in a number of outlets, Pritchard doesn’t believe these monetary and material achievements are what make his life successful. “There’s a lot of things going on, to some people that’s success, I don’t know. It ain’t easy. Everyone thinks I’m a multi-millionaire. The reality is that I’m not. Yeah, I’ve been there but I spent it all having a good time. But that was another life lesson. Success is weird. Some people see success as because you have a Lamborghini or a massive house. I’d still love to have a Lamborghini don’t get me wrong, they’re things I looked to have when I was younger. Now that I’m older, success to me is as long as I can pay my bills and I can spend time with my fiancé and my dog doing nice things, which doesn’t necessarily have to cost money, that’s success to me.”
Perhaps linked to his view of success as separate to his career, Mathew has little thoughts of legacy. “I’m not that big headed enough to think about my legacy. I don’t really give two fucks, to be honest with you. It’s up to other people to tell me what my legacy is. I just do me. I do what I can to keep myself entertained, keep myself happy, keep my loved ones happy. I leave it up to others to think about what my legacy is. I couldn’t give two fucks.”
In his reflections, it’s clear that Mathew Pritchard has evolved far beyond his 2003 self. When asked what he would say to his younger self, he simply says “You’re not going hard enough, and slow down.”, before continuing “I’m sort of contradicting myself there, so a combination of the both really. I look back on my old self and I don’t regret any of it. I’ve had a wild time. I feel really lucky to have been able to have lived that kind of lifestyle. A lot of people dream of living that lifestyle and I’m fortunate enough to say I’ve been there and done it. And loved every minute of it.”
Far removed from his wild days, Mathew continues to redefine himself. “I see a pattern with my life, where I get into something and then take it to as far as it can possibly go and then I go ‘oh alright, well I’ve done it now. Right, next.’ It’s like with triathlon. I still do triathlon and I absolutely love it. 2011 was my first iron man. Then I realised there was a double, and a triple, so I thought I’d tick those off. Then I found out the ultimate was the deca, which is 10 iron men. Slowly but surely over the years I worked my way up, and once I’d ticked that deca off, it was like I’d completed a computer game. It was like ‘completed it mate, bam.’ And then it was onto the next.
“I rowed the Atlantic Ocean in 2021 and I knew in my head I thought once I’ve done this ocean, I know what I’m like, I’m gonna have to fucking do a bigger one. And luckily I managed to get that opportunity, I’m actually doing the Indian Ocean next year.”
This constant push forward is evident in his work, as he continues to challenge himself. His career as a vegan chef continues to test his limits, as Pritchard explains “I find it challenging ‘cause I’m not the best chef in the world, I’m not a Michelin star. I went to college when I left school, did catering for two years. Obviously I didn’t do it all my life, I came back into it when I went vegan in 2015. I’m still learning, I enjoy cooking – I enjoy cooking in the house, I find it very therapeutic. I did the YouTube channel, Pritchard’s Proper Vegan Cooking, and then BBC picked it up and I did Dirty Vegan. I find it challenging because it doesn’t come natural to me, so I have to try and learn about it myself and put the hours in.”
This career also presents its challenges to Pritchard’s introverted nature and anxiety “When people call me up to do cooking demos and stuff, like I said I’m quite a shy person. When I used to the live shows with Dirty Sanchez, I’d be loaded, I’d get on stage, and it’d not be a problem. Now I’m sober, I get on stage to do the cooking demos – I did 4 this summer – it’s hard, ‘cause I’m so nervous. And I’ve a sharp knife in my hand, nerves and a sharp knife don’t go very well. As soon as I get into it, I’m fine, I’m off, I’m going.”
The Dirty Vegan books allow Pritchard to channel his ambition into a different avenue. The newest addition, Fast and Easy, sees Pritchard at his most ambitious yet, and not without its significant challenges. “The first two books, I did with another chef, Bob from Riverford Organic Fruit & Veg. I did some recipes, he did some recipes, and we amalgamated a bit for Dirty Vegan 1 and Dirty Vegan 2. This book, however, was completely done by myself. I started doing it in October last year. That is when I was on a downward spiral.
“Mentally I had lost the plot, I had a breakdown – all brought on by the party lifestyle. I eased off that quite a bit, then lockdown came and I think a lot of people’s bad habits came back in at lockdown, through boredom. It kept building and building and then in October; BANG, I just lost the plot. I could not stop crying, and that’s when I stopped [drinking.] October 6th I stopped. Then I had to do the book, I went to Octopus Publishing and I was a shell of a man. Luckily, I had that book to focus on. I spent a good 14 hours a day in the kitchen, going back and forward to Tesco to get recipe bits I’d forgotten. Writing books, and sometimes the recipe wouldn’t work and I’d have to start again. It was really long days in the kitchen. But slowly but surely we got there.”
Mathew talks openly about his approach to tackling anxiety “My anxiety gets so bad it’s visible on stage until I relax into what I’m doing. I hope people can listen to that and realise, because they must probably look at me think I’m just this confident guy that just yaps on stage. Just so everyone knows you’re not on your own, I get that. Like I said, I’m visibly bad. We’re not all perfect, and the more you sit in a house and ignore it, the worse it’s gonna get. You just have to grab life by the bollocks. Unfortunately, that is the only way. You do it over and over and over again and it becomes a habit, you get used to it. Then you don’t even think about it.
“To get over that hurdle you have to keep doing something over and over again. If you keep drinking over and over again, you get yourself a drinking habit. If you do drugs over and over again, you get a drug habit. If you do life constantly over and over again, you get a life habit. That means your anxiety eases and it sort of becomes second nature, leaving the house and trying to deal with people and social anxiety, anxiety and all that stuff. And I say that and I still struggle with it; but I’m not as bad as what I was because I got out and I got on with it.”
Mathew’s struggles clearly weren’t in vein, as their fruits see commercial release this winter. Dirty Vegan: Fast and Easy is released on December 7th. Matt also recently launched SWYD Supplements, his line of plant-based supplements.
You can pre-order Dirty Vegan: Fast and Easy HERE