21 Plant-Based Chefs You Need To Know

Welcome to the eclectic world of plant-based professionals, where seasoned restaurateurs, social media sensations, and vegan pioneers from all walks of life blend their passion for sustainable and compassionate dining. In this vibrant tapestry of talent, you'll find classically trained chefs who have wholeheartedly embraced veganism, self-made visionaries, food justice advocates, and devoted farm-to-table enthusiasts. From creators of convincingly delicious vegan alternatives to outspoken feminists who believe in justice for all, these culinary trailblazers are redefining the way we eat.

Their collective impact reaches across the globe, from Zimbabwe and Germany to Wales and France, as they share their expertise and vision through restaurants, blogs, books, and activist initiatives. Regardless of their personal dietary choices, these household names have shaped the vegan and veg-curious dining experience over the past two decades and will continue to influence the trajectory of our tastes in the years to come. Let's get to know them.

Gaz Oakley

Everyone and their mother's favorite YouTube chef, Cardiff-born Gaz Oakley, has had an impressive culinary career. A cooking enthusiast from a young age, Oakley began working in restaurants at the tender age of 15, receiving his classic chef training along the way. Almost 10 years later, his culinary journey took a turn: Gary Yourofsky's famous speech inspired him to embrace veganism overnight. Since then, he's authored three cookbooks and amassed over 1.5 million YouTube followers, sharing mouthwatering recipes for plant-based BBQ ribs, fish and chips, mushroom shawarma, and much more.

Oakley's beautifully produced cooking videos, penchant for high-protein workout meals, and excellent streetwear taste inevitably attract those ready to challenge the traditional ideas of masculinity. His latest pursuits include creating a self-sufficient homestead in Wales to fully embrace the farm-to-table lifestyle and working on his pop-up comfort food restaurant, Nana O's.

Bryant Terry

Memphis-born eco-chef Bryant Terry, 49, is a culinary force to be reckoned with. Though he holds professional training from New York City's Natural Gourmet Institute for Health and Culinary Arts, Terry forgoes traditional restaurant kitchens. Instead, he's found mentorship under the legendary Alice Waters and has been dubbed a "Cheftivist" by the San Francisco Bay Guardian. As a multifaceted talent, he's founded 4 Color Books, hosted his own PBS series, and authored six critically acclaimed cookbooks — including the iconic "Afro-Vegan," which some consider one of the best cookbooks of all time

Until recently, Terry was the chef-in-residence at San Francisco's Museum of the African Diaspora, combining food with activism and culture. His ultimate goal? To inspire a shift in food consciousness, challenge the stereotypes of African American cuisine, and fight the industrial food system.

Isa Chandra Moskowitz

Brooklyn native Isa Chandra Moskowitz, 50, is a vegan powerhouse with a decades-long career. A self-taught chef, she honed her knife skills helping Food Not Bombs and considers the world her cooking school. From her humble beginnings on Brooklyn public access television in 2002, Isa's witty, approachable style has won the hearts of many. Her blog, Post Punk Kitchen, is a descendant of her cooking show and features hundreds of recipes that can be studied as a vegan food trend timeline from 2007 to today.

With 12 cookbooks under her belt, including the legendary "Veganomicon," her latest masterpiece, "Fake Meat," is a 2023 must-have. Isa's comfort food restaurants, Modern Love, proudly serve "from-scratch" vegan delights in Omaha and Brooklyn: mouthwatering Buffalo wings, Philly Cheesesteak, Corned Beet Reuben, and creamy milkshakes, all crafted with Isa's trailblazing culinary prowess.

Daniel Humm

Swiss-born Daniel Humm, a former pro cyclist and a forever athlete, has truly impressive culinary beginnings. At just 24, he earned his first Michelin star and has since added three more, along with seven James Beard awards for his work at Eleven Madison Park. Now 46, Humm has joined the ranks of plant-based professionals, and the kind of food that Eleven Madison Park serves has changed dramatically: Seasonal produce now rules Manhattan's most sought-after (and definitely most expensive) plant-based restaurant.

With more than 800,000 followers on Instagram, Humm turned himself into one of the most influential plant-based chefs out there, posting minimalistic yet complex plant-based plates. Best of all, this restaurant industry heavyweight believes that the future is plant-based and has proved it with his own transformation, supporting his active lifestyle with vegan eats, from celery juice to falafel.

Gabrielle Reyes

In the culinary world of stars, each chef has a secret ingredient that sets them apart. For Gabrielle Reyes, the "singing chef," it's the harmonious blend of music and vegan food. As One Great Vegan, Gabrielle is in the business of mixing beats with beets, amassing nearly four million likes and over 11 million views across hundreds of vibrant, whimsical cooking videos on TikTok.

A professional singer and actress, Reyes has embraced veganism for over a decade, healing her relationship with food and body image. Now, she leads the way for others, proving that plant-based eating can be colorful, exciting, and allergen-free. Her musical cooking show is a friendly space for both plant-curious and seasoned vegans alike. Currently, she's working on a new cookbook, drawing inspiration from her rich multi-ethnic heritage as a way to honor her ancestors through food.

Charity Morgan

Charity Morgan is the self-proclaimed "plegan" chef changing the meaning of plant-based eating. With a Le Cordon Bleu culinary degree and over 15 years of experience, Morgan creates mouthwatering vegan meals for celebrities, professional athletes, and thousands of Instagram followers alike.

Morgan's cooking philosophy is rooted in creativity, inclusivity, and accessibility, brilliantly showcased in the award-winning documentary feature, "The Game Changers," which made her a star. As a "plegan," she caters to both the veg-curious and fully committed vegans, demystifying plant-based cooking and proving that it can be both affordable and delicious. From strawberry-orange shortcake and Caribbean ceviche to Cajun Caesar and filet mignons, Morgan's vibrant vegan recipes have captivated fans and critics alike. Her debut cookbook, "Unbelievably Vegan," is a testament to her innovative approach and has earned its spot among the best vegan cookbooks of 2022.

Alexis Gauthier

In the world of haute cuisine, Michelin-starred French chef Alexis Gauthier, 49, stands out for his bold embrace of plant-based cooking. Gauthier's unwavering belief in a plant-centric future is evident from the moment you open his website. While his passion for plants may have been budding since 1997, when he introduced veggie-centric dishes at his first restaurant, it was a 2015 encounter with foie gras protestors that solidified his vegan commitment — and prompted him to develop a faux gras recipe in collaboration with PETA.

In a move reminiscent of Daniel Humm's Eleven Madison Park, Gauthier's namesake Soho restaurant underwent a post-pandemic transformation, eliminating animal products to become one of the world's best vegan restaurants. With two more plant-based eateries set to open in London this summer, Gauthier continues to redefine the landscape of fine dining with his compassionate culinary vision.

Babette Davis

Meet Babette Davis, an inspiring force in the world of plant-based eating and fitness. An East Los Angeles native, Davis had to overcome decades of adversity and health issues before embracing veganism in her 40s, healing her body and transforming her life. Now a healthy aging activist, motivational speaker, and Instagram sensation with more than 270,000 followers, she's a shining example of the power of plant-based living.

As owner and chef of Stuff I Eat, a vegan restaurant in LA she opened in 2008 with her husband, Babette caters to the transitioning and veg-curious, offering a mouthwatering array of comfort foods like chili, mac 'n' cheese, tacos, and salads. At 72 years young, she's a testament to the benefits of plant-based eating and exercise, inspiring women everywhere to embrace a healthier, more active lifestyle.

Derek Sarno

Though only vegan for seven years, Derek Sarno has already made a lasting culinary impact on plant-based eating. Alongside his brother Chad, Derek co-authored two vegan cookbooks and founded Wicked Kitchen, a thriving plant-based food company. During his six-year tenure as the executive chef and director of plant-based innovation at Tesco, Sarno significantly contributed to transforming the U.K. into a vegan paradise. In early 2023, he left the role to cultivate a more vegan-friendly environment in North America. The Sarno brothers recently secured a $20 million investment for Wicked Kitchen, with Woody Harrelson among the backers.

Derek's love for fungi is legendary; his signature "Sarno sear" turns mushrooms into meaty masterpieces to the delight of his Instagram followers. With his latest initiative, "Wicked Meaty," Derek dreams of converting chicken farms into mushroom farms, further revolutionizing the plant-based culinary landscape.

Sophia Hoffman

In Berlin's diverse culinary landscape, Sophia Hoffmann is a standout star. A former DJ and journalist, she transformed herself into one of the vegan queer chefs you need to know over the past decade. Her self-taught prowess in the kitchen, backed by years of hands-on experience, has led to the release of four books covering intuitive cooking, female-led food ventures, and reducing food waste. Following the city's plant-based food boom, she now helms HAPPA restaurant in Kreuzberg.

Hoffmann's commitment to redefining the traditionally masculine food world is evident in her involvement with the first all-vegan dinner at James Beard House for International Women's Day 2018, where she joined an all-female chef team to a sold-out, standing ovation crowd. Through initiatives like the Feminist Food Club, she fosters a supportive network for women and non-binary individuals in the food industry. 

David Lee

A third-generation food professional, London-born David Lee, 53, credits his childhood in Mauritius with a multinational extended family for sparking his passion for cooking. This traditionally trained maestro, with years of experience in high-end restaurants, now champions plant-based cuisine as co-founder and executive chef of Planta, established in 2016.

Lee's Instagram evolution tells the tale of his shift from Wagyu beef to vegan cheeses, sushi, and burgers over the past seven years. With several diverse Planta locations in Canada and U.S., plus pandemic-era nationwide food delivery, Lee is determined to prove that plant-based eating is far more than a fleeting trend. Though not vegan himself, Lee has embraced a largely plant-based diet for weight management and now wishes he'd been more informed on sustainability, nutrition, and food sourcing early in his career.

Nicola Kagoro

Zimbabwe-born and NYC-raised Nicole Kagoro studied hospitality management in Cape Town, where her vegan journey began. Today, she's known professionally as Chef Cola and is living her teenage dream as a sought-after chef. In 2016, Kagoro founded African Vegan on a Budget and has since dedicated herself to reconnecting Africans to their indigenous plant-based roots, a lifestyle prevalent before colonization.

As the former executive chef at Akashinga Back to Black Roots, she provided plant-based meals to an all-female anti-poaching unit until 2022. Through her community project Chef Cola's African Inspired Kitchens, she is lifting the stigma of veganism and bridging the gap between urban and rural Zimbabwean diets. But Chef Cola's culinary talents extend beyond the kitchen — she's hosted pop-up vegan dinners, authored the cookbook "African Vegan On A Budget," and is even set to star in her own Zimbabwean television show.

Reina Montenegro

Raised in the meat-heavy realm of her native Philippines, Montenegro moved to the U.S. 25 years ago and went vegan in 2016 after discovering dairy was the cause of her daughter's health issues. Since then, she has been on a mission to change the world through plant-based comfort food, putting a vegan spin on traditional Filipino dishes.

Despite the challenges faced by women and people of color in the restaurant business, Montenegro's passion for cooking and veganism propelled her to leave her corporate job to become a personal chef and caterer, working with clients like Apple, NASA, and Twitter before opening three vegan restaurants of her own that would still be thriving if it wasn't for the coronavirus pandemic. In 2021, Montenegro launched Chef Reina, a delivery-oriented restaurant and frozen vegan Filipino meal line, which is now available nationwide.

Amanda Cohen

Amanda Cohen embraced vegetarianism in her teens, but at the start of her career in the 1990s, when plant-based foods were treated as an afterthought at best, it first appeared as a professional disadvantage. Undeterred, Cohen opened Dirt Candy, a Manhattan eatery shedding a spotlight on nature's bounty, in 2008.

Since then, she has become an influential industry voice, known for addressing sexism in the food industry and introducing revolutionary ideas both in and outside of the restaurant kitchen. Serving on the board of Women Chefs and Restaurateurs, she champions gender equity and challenges the erasure of women from culinary history. Reflecting her values, now Michelin-starred Dirt Candy credits contributing chefs on the menus and prioritizes humane labor practices. In another attempt to change New York City's restaurant scene, Cohen recently launched Lekka Burger, utilizing ancient Chinese techniques to craft irresistible vegan burgers.

Miyoko Schinner

You might not know Miyoko Schinner, but you have definitely seen her vegan cheese. This Yokohama, Japan-born vegan boasts four decades of food industry career that involved everything from satisfying the cravings of '90s vegetarians with her meat alternatives to authoring numerous vegan cookbooks. Her 2012 tome, "Artisan Vegan Cheese," inspired countless vegan cheese brands, but none quite as successful as her own Miyoko's Creamery, founded in 2014.

Her company was renowned for diligent quality control in terms of labor practices, supply chain, and the products themselves. Unfortunately, in early 2023 it was reported that Schinner was removed from her post as the company's CEO, and it's unclear whether the company will uphold the values set by its founder. Although now Schinner has poured her efforts into her nonprofit sanctuary Rancho Compasión, we eagerly await her next mouthwatering move.

Ricky Saward

Ricky Saward, Europe's first vegan chef to earn a Michelin star for his sustainability efforts, began his culinary journey at a young age, mentored by his mother, a professional domestic scientist. From canteen cook to critically acclaimed chef, Saward's path wasn't always plant-based. In 2018, he joined Frankfurt's renowned vegetarian Seven Swans and managed to hold on to its existing Michelin star despite dropping the dairy, firmly embracing farm-to-table practices and sourcing ingredients from the restaurant's own farm. Initially working with just four vegetables, Saward now boasts hundreds of edible plants in his culinary arsenal.

Eschewing labels, debates, and social media hype, the 34-year-old vegan chef focuses on crafting uniquely plant-based dishes without imitating meat or fish. With minimal spices, Saward's creative, flavorful vegetable-centric dishes aim to win over omnivores' hearts, proving that good food transcends dietary boundaries.

Claire Vallée

Claire Vallée's journey began with a serendipitous summertime job at a Swiss restaurant that turned into an eight-year stint and the eventual discovery of Buddhist vegetarian food, which prompted her to trade traditional cooking for a bold, plant-based endeavor in 2016. She settled in the small French town of Arès, which was soon to be graced by France's first Michelin-starred vegan restaurant.

ONA, which stands for "origine non animale," faced initial skepticism from banks. But Vallée persevered with crowdfunded cash, volunteer labor, and a mission to make vegan food an uncompromisingly delicious experience. Five years later, ONA earned its star, delighting worldly palates with dishes like vegan foie gras — a rebellious nod to France's culinary traditions. Sadly, despite high demand, ONA closed in 2022 due to staffing challenges, but Vallée continues to spread her culinary philosophy.

Chloe Coscarelli

Plant-based luminary Chloe Coscarelli, 35, went down in American food history as the first vegan winner of "Cupcake Wars" in 2010. From that moment on, her career skyrocketed: Her infectious charm and uncomplicated recipes captivated foodies worldwide with her best-selling cookbooks and luminous Instagram appearances. In 2015, she also co-founded by.CHLOE is a fast-casual vegan restaurant chain that initially took New York City by storm until Coscarelli was forced to leave it. Now, this once-popular chain has changed its name to Beatnic in hopes of a fresh start.

These days, she's partnering with Club Med to incorporate more plant-based options nationwide — a perfect fit for a Cornell-certified plant-based nutritionist with almost 20 years of veganism under her belt and an ability to create culinary masterpieces that appeal to vegans and non-vegans alike.

Matthew Kenney

This renowned plant-based chef, prolific author, and successful entrepreneur gained mainstream recognition after Netflix's "Bad Vegan" highlighted his role in creating the infamous raw vegan restaurant, Pure Food and Wine.

Despite receiving classical French chef training, Kenney has embraced vegan cooking for over two decades, specializing in raw vegan foods. However, his ever-expanding global restaurant portfolio spans vegan pubs, burger joints, taco drive-thrus, and more. Double Zero, his vegan pizza venture, began in Los Angeles and has since expanded to Baltimore, Boston, New York, and Plant City — the world's first vegan food hall in Providence, which he launched. His other establishment, Plant Food + Wine, ranks among the best vegan restaurants worldwide. At 58, Kenney shows no signs of slowing down. So keep an eye out for Floraison in New York City, set to open in 2023.

Tal Ronnen

Tal Ronnen made his mark on the constantly evolving world of culinary arts as a visionary plant-based chef who has been redefining the vegan food scene for over a decade. With an impressive clientele that includes Oprah Winfrey and Ellen DeGeneres, Ronnen's culinary creations have graced the plates of A-listers worldwide.

Ronnen's crowning achievement is the establishment of Crossroads Kitchen, one of the best vegan restaurants in America, which celebrated its 10th anniversary this year. This celebrity vegan hotspot in Los Angeles serves up all kinds of delectable plant-based fare in the form of lunch, dinner, and family-style menus. The Mediterranean influences of the Israeli-born chef also shine through in dishes such as the harissa-seasoned Crossroads bowl and Impossible cigar. Additionally, Ronnen authored two books: bestselling "The Conscious Cook" as well as a collection of Crossroads recipes.

Sophia Roe

Sophia Roe, the 31-year-old Brooklyn-based, James Beard Award-winning chef, turned her college dropout days into a thriving career, amassing nearly half a million Instagram followers. On top of that, Roe is the Emmy-nominated host and producer of "Counter Space," a groundbreaking show that explores food's connection to social issues like colonialism, indigenous erasure, and global crises — so, not your average cooking show.

While not a vegan herself, her primarily plant-based approach to cooking offers a unique perspective, taking inspiration from vegan-friendly cuisines worldwide. A forceful advocate for local food, Roe strives to eliminate the divide between "good" and "bad" foods. Her life goal? To see everyone well-fed. As a self-proclaimed storyteller, she's currently working on her first book, full of personal memories as well as recipes.

Static Media owns and operates Tasting Table and Mashed.