The TV presenter will appear on Celebs Go Dating later this year...
She’s been on our screens for more than a decade, but we’re more used to Sarah-Jane Crawford hosting our favourite shows than spilling secrets on reality TV.
Now though, the 34-year-old is throwing caution to the wind after signing up for E4’s Celebs Go Dating. Sarah-Jane will join stars including Calum Best and Charlotte Dawson as Nadia Essex coaches them through dates with total strangers.
But this isn’t someone looking for a showmance or a glossy magazine deal: former Xtra Factor host Sarah-Jane simply wants to broaden her horizons and have a bit of fun after coming out of a long-term relationship two years ago.
Away from her life in front of the camera, Sarah-Jane promotes a vegan lifestyle – and it’s clearly something she’s very passionate about. ‘Do something today that your future self will thank you for’, she recites.
In our exclusive chat, she talks dating disasters, what she looks for in a man and reveals all about her upcoming vegan project…
Hi Sarah-Jane! So, why Celebs Go Dating? I can’t imagine you struggle when it comes to men…
[Laughs] It’s not that. I was in a long-term relationship, for like five years, and we broke up. We’re still good friends, but I’ve been in between Los Angeles and London for the last year and a half since then. I thought it would be an interesting way to meet new people.
We’ve only ever seen you at work on TV. Are you worried about the focus now being on you as a person and not a presenter?
100 per cent – I’m petrified! But it’s funny; I like the fact that it forced me to get over worrying about what people think and go through a new process. I’m always trying to be in control. I’m the queen of never letting there be an awkward silence, and this forced me to be a little bit more exposed.
You’ve always managed to keep your dating life out of the public eye so are you concerned about the attention this might bring?
I think anything new comes with worry, but it’s healthy and natural. I would always keep a parameter there; I can’t be someone who lays everything there in the public eye, I’ve never worked like that. What I like about this process is the fact that it’s more about getting to know who you are rather than exposing your dating secrets.
What’s the most disastrous date you’ve ever been on?
About 10 years ago – it was one of the worst – my friend set me up on a blind date and was like, ‘He’s an investment banker, he’s got loads of money’. Straight away I was like, ‘Well, that might be so but it might not be enough. He needs to be cool’.
He turned up in a yellow Ferrari Spider – he was such a dick! He had no chat, took me to all of his friend’s houses, all of his friends were idiots. I had to make the ‘emergency’ call to a friend in the end…
What’s the most romantic thing someone has ever done for you?
My ex-boyfriend, the one who I was with for years and who is still a dear friend, twice tried to arrange surprises for me. He called my friend Su-Elise in Australia, my best friend from uni who lived in Dubai… everyone. He planned it for like six months but unfortunately, both times, I foiled it!
It didn’t matter because all of my friends were still there and we had a great night. He’s such a nice human being and that’s why we’re still good friends.
What qualities do you look for in a man?
The one key thing is someone who’s interesting, someone who makes sense. It’s not that you agree with them all the time but that they make sense even if their opinion is different to yours. They have to be a good communicator, and someone who is kind – that’s cute. And then sex appeal. The reason I say that… they don’t have to be a model but they do have to have that little something that you can’t put your finger on.
Are you ready to settle down and do you want kids?
I think any woman in her 30s thinks about that stuff. But a recent rushed relationship I went through I’m now in a really good place. I’m not planning anything and think it will happen at its own pace.
You’re launching an app in October, called Viappi. What brought that about?
My idea was to create a finder for vegetarian and vegan restaurants. The two questions I get asked most are: what do you eat and where do you go? I’ve teamed up with chef Annabel Karmel. She’s got ready meals in all the major supermarkets and has sold like four million cookbooks – she’s a big deal!
I actually met her through CGD. The opening sequence is filmed in her house – she’s got an amazing house – and they were like, ‘Annabel is asking about you, she knows you’ve got an app coming out’. And then we started working together. The recipes she’s developed are amazing!
How long have you been vegan?
It’s been two years. It was May 2015 when Beyonce announced she was doing that whole 21-day nutrition thing and I spoke about it on my radio show. Then I had [grime artist] JME on the show and he’s a major vegan – I call him the urban vegan. All of my friends in the music industry, if they’ve turned vegan they’re like, ‘JME turned me!’
What do you think the health benefits of being vegan are?
Where do I start? At the end of 2015 the World Health Organization said that it’s been proven that red meat and processed meat has a link to the increased risk of cancer. If you watch documentaries, like What The Health on Netflix, they’re saying red meat is up there with cigarettes as like a carcinogenic and something that can cause cancer.
All you have to do is look at the numbers and see the people eating the most red meat are the unhealthiest. It’s not just that, it’s the animals and deforestation, the pollution – everyone loses when you eat meat and dairy. When I gave up meat and dairy I never missed meat when I gave it up and I never craved it.
Why did you go vegan?
I went into hospital and had a breast lump removed, I had fibroids removed after the Xtra Factor. I found the breast lump a week before I met Simon Cowell about the Xtra Factor job and just after that I was having it removed. A month after I wrapped the show I was in hospital again getting more lumps removed. I just thought, ‘I don’t want to live like this where I’m not thinking about estrogen in my diet. I’m not thinking about how I’m living with alcohol, meat and dairy. At 40, 45 or 50 I don’t want to be dying of whatever, let me look at what I can do now to help me pave my way for a healthier future.’
What advice would you give to people who want to introduce a vegan diet into their lifestyle?
Like JME said to me, watch the films, almost brainwash yourself with the truth. Make yourself realise it’s not an option – it’s cruel, it’s bad for the environment and it’s killing you. On a practical level, check out all the blogs and Instagram accounts – there are so many out there. Go to Wholefoods or Waitrose, I know it sounds very middle class and expensive but it’s actually a whole lot cheaper to be vegan because you’re cutting out meat and dairy which, other than alcohol, are the most expensive things on any menu or shopping list.
Sarah-Jane Crawford launches Viappi – a vegan restaurant locator which also includes a host of vegan recipes from food expert Annabel Karmel – in October.