Celebrating excellence in the plant-based alternatives our Dairy Free Awards are an opportunity for companies to show us the best they can offer in terms of taste, texture, mouth-feel and versatility. We have separate awards for imports and NZ made in each product category, just as we do for our Sausage Awards.
Our expert panel have selected the best of the best. In the cheese categories with so many great vegan cheeses in the marketplace, it really was very hard just to select a mere 8 for our voters! From the Alternative Dairy Company to Zenzo, there are so many to choose from including the delicious nutbased ones from Crescent, Savour and Terra Nut Cheese. Using nuts as a base is a great way to incorporate a suitable protein to fat ratio, leaving you feeling satiated. Whether you want to grate it on a pizza or eat it with crackers, plant-based cheeses can offer you all the tastiness you need.
There are so many New Zealand made plant milks, with some offering a truly homegrown product, taking advantage of our climate to grow the best oats in the country. We chose 7 to be in the running, including Covet macadamia milk (this has GOT to be the creamiest), Little Island chocolate coconut milk (so yum), Milk 2.0 (with weekly home deliveries in Auckland), Otis oat milk (fab in a coffee) and the So Good cashew milk (makes the best smoothies). This category really shows us the versatility of plants, easy to cook with, pour on your cereal, whatever you want to do with it. Their environmental credentials are off the charts and would help lower our emissions if wisely invested in.
We had 4 coconut yoghurts to choose from, so hard to choose between Cathedral Cove, Doctor's Choice, Raglan Coconut Yoghurt and The Coconut Collective. We love all our New Zealand businesses helping to bring plant-based alternatives to our country. The creamiest of all yoghurts, we just love it with a deep red berry, as our results show.
The final category was the most delicious and certainly the one with the most votes. Dairy-free ice creams. So many flavours, so many companies, so much ice cream, so little time! After much soul searching our experts managed to pick 7 delicious flavours from the best of our local offerings, Duck Island, IsoCream, Like Licks, Little Island, Oob, Trumpet and Wahiki, with flavours from the always delicious chocolate, hokey pokey, the salted caramels and cookies and cream to the more unusual tumeric latte and boysenberry.
I hasten to add here that sadly no one got free samples
And of course all the interest in plant-based alternatives has been great for local businesses, we asked our cheese category winner, Alice Shopland, CEO for Angel Food what her experience has been, “Since 2015 when veganism suddenly took hold in the mainstream, demand for our products has increased by leaps and bounds. Even if people aren’t vegan and don’t think they’ll ever be vegan, often they’re willing to taste our vegan cheese alternatives and they have an understanding of the reasons for veganism – especially the environmental reasons. That widespread understanding simply wasn’t there 13 years ago when I started Angel Food! The future is looking very bright for dairy alternatives – most of us grew up consuming dairy every day in various forms, so it’s an important part of our taste repertoire. Great dairy alternatives enable us to eat our favourite foods in a way that is kinder to animals and much much better for the environment. Obviously animal agriculture is still massive in Aotearoa, but I see so many signs of change and willingness to change, from consumers and farmers and legislators – I’m optimistic that this decade we are going to see evidence of that change taking place.”
How many of these have you tried? Not heard of them? Ask your local supermarket to start stocking the winners now!
See the results here!
The future of milk products is plant-based. We hope that the government will help farmers to diversify and transition to growing plants over the coming decade. It's time for New Zealand to once again become global leaders. We can do this, we can change our economy from meat and dairy based to horticultural based. We will meet our Paris Agreement if we invest in our land wisely, grow the right crops in the right environment and increase our organic inputs.