Have you ever gazed at vegan cheeses trying to decide which one melts the best on pizza, or which one your friends will enjoy on a cheese board?

If this sounds like you – then read on to find out more about the country’s best vegan cheeses. Vegan cheese makers have finally cracked the Holy Grail of plant-based cheese, including blue, feta and mozzarella cheeses. Once considered the domain of the dairy industry, our Kiwi entrepreneurs have been working hard to create amazing plant-based alternatives.

The judges at New Zealand’s first Vegan Cheese Awards, which were held at The Butcher’s Son, taste tested over 30 different local cheeses. Nine different categories of cheese were tasted and tested and given marks out of ten. These plant-based cheeses are made from ingredients such as cashew nuts, potato starch, coconut oil, macadamia nuts, even kumara and a variety of herbs and spices.

There is no cholesterol in plants, so those keen to preserve their health as well as the environment can finally eat their way safely into cheese heaven. Supermarkets know that vegan cheese is on the rise as they are seeing a 36% increase in plant-based foods.

The Vegan Society Aotearoa New Zealand is delighted to present their first award winners:

Mozzarella winner: Zenzo

Runner Up: Angel Food

Feta winners are joint: Angel Food and Let Them Eat Vegan

Runner Up: Savour

Cream Cheese winner: Angel Food

Runner Up: Grater Goods

Soft Cheese winner: Let Them Eat Vegan – Cheddar Spread

Runner Up: Treetops Foods – Sundried Tomato and Garlic

Hard Cheese winner: Treetops Food – Pepper Kick

Flavoured Cheese winner: Savour – Cumin Cheese

Runner Up: Savour – Chipotle Cheese

Surface Ripened winner: Moa – Blue Cheese

Runner Up: Savour – Cashbert

Commercial Cheddar winner: Zenzo

Runner Up: Zenzo – Smoky Paprika Cheese

The SUPREME winner was Let Them Eat Vegan with their Cheddar Spread.

The awards were judged by vegan comedian Tom Sainsbury, Food and Beverage Industry Judge Aaron Pucci, restaurant owners Mike Khuwattanasenee (Khu Khu) and Luke Burrows (Wise Boys) who had the delicious tasks of awarding marks based on texture, appearance and flavour of the vegan cheeses. They were particularly impressed with Angel Food’s Cream Cheese saying it was “Amazing on a bagel, spreadable, classic authentic cream cheese, wonderfully rich.”

Media spokesperson Claire Insley said: “Congratulations to all our winners and runners up, it’s clear that healthy, plant-based cheeses are ready to tackle the Kiwi palate. Our awards are showcasing the excellence in this niche, yet burgeoning market. These cheeses are healthy for you, healthy for our environment and kind to animals, when vegan cheese tastes this good, why settle for less?”

Read more about the award and winners https://www.vegansociety.org.nz/vegan-cheese-awards-winners/

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