Reading Time: 2 minutes The chef creates incredibly exciting plant-based food
Reading Time: 2 minutes

Tesco’s Head of Plant Based Innovation Derek Sarno is the latest high-profile name to join Veganuary as an ambassador.

The campaign, which encourages people to try veganism during January – includes Harry Potter actress Evanna Lynch, TV presenter Jasmine Harman, food writer Jack Monroe, comedian Sara Pascoe, rugby player Anthony Mullally, and actor Peter Egan among its ambassadors.


Sarno, who originally hails from Portland, OR, was the senior global chef at Whole Foods Market in the US before joining UK-based retail giant Tesco, from which exciting plant-based developments are expected in the new year.

He said: “I decided to go vegan because as a chef I feel responsible for the food that I feed people. I believe we can do it in a much more compassionate way that can be just as delicious as any animal product out there. 

“On a personal level, I wanted to be more compassionate with my choices, and being vegan is the way that I can affect change on a personal level.”


Sarno has been vegan a little over a year.

He paid special tribute to those that have been vegan longer, saying: “For the old-school vegans that have been vegan for 30 years, I commend them because they did it out of principle, not because the food was good. 

“Now I want to do my part and help make it delicious, inviting and dead-easy to go vegan.”


All eyes are on Tesco for the new year, as vegans wait to see what Sarno has been cooking up with them, and since he previously owned award-winning restaurants and catering companies, expectations are running high. 

He says he is driven to create ‘wicked-ballsy flavors, layered with textures’ that will undoubtedly please vegans, and crucially his aim is to create ‘crave-able foods that will encourage meat-eaters to choose them over any other product’.

The number of vegans around the world is rising exponentially, and it is a sign of the times that international food giant Tesco has taken on a Director of Plant Based Innovation. 

With more and more food options, plant-based restaurants, and high-profile advocates speaking out about the benefits that veganism has brought them, Derek is convinced that this is just the beginning. 

“I can’t even explain the wave that’s coming that will change the world this next year,” he says. “Vegan is going mainstream.”


Matthew Glover, Veganuary Co-founder says: “We’re so proud to welcome Derek to the Veganuary family. 

“His approach sits perfectly with ours – not only do we want to show all the great reasons for trying vegan, we want to make it as easy, delicious and enjoyable as possible. His experience and expertise in creating amazing plant-based foods will help us do just that.”

Derek Sarno also supports Veganuary’s approach. “My advice to somebody thinking of taking part in Veganuary would be just do it,” he says.

“Get off your ass and stop with the excuses and just do it. 

“You’ll find any excuse in the world not to do it but the reasons you can find to do it are the meaningful ones that really will bring some meaning to your life and create a lot of change.”


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Maria Chiorando

Maria is a news and features writer for Plant Based News. As a former magazine editor, newspaper reporter, and features writer, her work has been published by The Guardian, The Huffington Post, and various regional newspapers, as well as Vegan Life magazine and Vegan Trade Journal. She has interviewed a huge range of people, from Prime Ministers to authors, activists, pop stars and actors, and enjoys the varied range of topics writing for PBN allows her to tackle. She was previously the editor of Plant Based News for over 3 years.