NZ’s Best Vegan Bangers


Claire Insley, the Vegan Society’s media spokesperson, heads along to the NZ Vegan Sausage Awards, an annual celebration of the variety and quality of Aotearoa’s plant-based snags. 

It is a sunny morning as I walk along Ponsonby Road, on my way to Khu Khu Eatery, a delightful, cozy, LGBTQ+ friendly vegan Thai restaurant, owned by Michael Khuttannassee. I’ve had my coffee but not breakfast, as very soon I’ll be presented with more sausages than I can possibly eat. The volunteer chefs are already cooking up several sausages as I enter, my stomach rumbles as I smell the delicious aroma of vegan Breakfast Sausages. The judges aren’t here yet and Amanda Sorrenson, the Vegan Society’s national coordinator, and Michael are doing last minute prep. The fifth annual NZ Vegan Sausage Awards are about to begin.


Meet the judges

This year’s judging panel is impressive. We are so lucky to have the valuable experience of Jasbir “Jazz” Kaur, multi-award-winning executive chef, trainer, and president of the NZ Chef Association Auckland. She has become a mainstay of our Awards. 

This year we are excited to welcome Plabita Florence to the panel. She is the owner and chef at Auckland’s Forest, one of only two vegetarian restaurants in the country to receive a hat at the Cuisine Good Food Awards 2022. She was also named Evolving Woman in Food for 2023 by the Women In Food & Drink Aotearoa New Zealand group. 

We are also delighted to be joined by Fred Wong, who has trained and worked in food all over the world, from street food vending to three-star Michelin restaurants. Extremely knowledgeable of a lot of different foods, he is the chef at Auckland’s Pōni eatery and is a perfect third for our expert panel. 

Representing the average Joe in the judging boot is none other than vegan funny man, Tom Sainsbury. Known for his hilarious comedy on stage, screen, and social media, you can learn more about what Tom is up to on page 20.

The Process

Pens, clipboards, and spreadsheets in hand, the judges gather round for the first tasting. So, what does it take to make a winning sausage? What are our judges looking for and why aren’t I allowed to be one? These are the questions that have plagued me since the start of the Awards. As I live in the remote village of Karamea, on the West Coast at the top of the South Island, I never usually get to find out! Thanks to the timing of the Vegan Society AGM, this year I was in Auckland and able to volunteer my services here. 

There are five criteria that our judges must assess for each sausage. Each sausage is awarded points across the categories, and highest ranking are tasted again to decide a winner and runner up. It’s quite an art. Jazz guides our new judges through the tasting hurdles and asks probing questions to make sure every sausage is judged fairly.

First of all, they look at appearance: Does the sausage look appealing as presented? Then its on to taste and aroma. Texture is important to consider and there are points awarded for the casing. Did it fall apart when the sausage was cooked? What does it look like? How do the cooked and raw versions compare? Not all the sausages were designed to be cooked, so sometimes this part was left out of consideration, especially for the new Deli Meats categories. 

I hung in the background taking choice snaps when I could. All the time, I was getting more and more hungry. When could I try one?

Eventually, with the judges’ deliberations done for this round, the winning and runner up sausages are noted and finally I can pick my way through the leftovers! The samples are not labeled, as it’s a blind tasting, so I have no idea which ones I am eating. As the competition continues and more and more sausages keep coming out of the kitchen doors, I become quite full and actually glad that I don’t have to make all these distinctions over each sausage. 

There are also sausage rolls to judge and at this point I am way too full to even try any. With nothing more than water to moisten their mouths, I begin to feel quite sorry for the judges.

The press arrives to interview Tom, so there is a short hiatus while lights are turned off and things are arranged to be more camera friendly (did you see the article that Stuff created? Have a look on our website). Judging continues and Tom gives an excellent interview, a performance he repeats later that evening for Nights on Radio New Zealand.

The Champions

Finally, it is over. All eight sausage categories and the new Deli Meats section have been tried and tested. Finally, a fresh batch of each winning sausage is cooked up for the judges to taste one last time to make their judgement on the Supreme Winner. Local plant-based protein producer Plan*t is named champion for the second year, its Spicy Chorizo declared the top sausage of 2023.

We express our gratitude to the hard-working volunteer chefs in the kitchen, to Michael, for being our host, and profusely thank our four judges as they stagger off, full of sausages and vowing not to eat for the rest of the day.

Leftover sausages are collected, and I manage to score a few freebies to take home, along with a literal doggie bag: half-eaten sausages to feed to dogs. Amazingly, it is still sunny as Amanda and I exit the restaurant some three hours later. As I walk through Western Springs Park with my doggie bag, I spy a beautiful auburn Weimaranerand who I think would love these sausages. I approach the owner and start gabbling about sausages in my bag for him, then I notice she has a Vet Hospital badge on her scrubs. 

“You are the perfect person to give these to,” I exclaim. “You must have lots of doggies who would love them.” After assuring her they are onion-free, I hand over the bag feeling thankful they won’t go to waste.

I am exhausted and stuffed and return to my hostel bunk to lie down and sleep it off!

NZ Vegan Sausage Awards 2023

Supreme Winner
Plan*t Spicy Chorizo Sausage

Breakfast Sausage

Plan*t Sage and Onion Sausage

Runner Up:
Plan*t Spicy Chorizo Sausage


The Vegetarian Butcher Italian Spicy Sausage

Runner Up:
Plan*t- Spicy Chorizo



Plan*t Spicy Chorizo Sausage

Runner Up:
Vegie Delights Classic Hot Dogs

Sausage Roll
Goodtime Pie Co. Hub Café Vegan Sausage Roll

Runner Up:
Dad’s Pies Vegan Sausage Roll

Speciality Sausage

The Vegetarian Butcher Italian Spicy Sausage

Runner Up:
Omahu Road Deli New Zealand Kawakawa



Plan*t Spicy Chorizo Sausage

Runner Up:
The Vegetarian Butcher Spanish Chorizo

Deli Meat — Pastrami

Omahu Road Deli New York Style Pastrami

Runner Up:
The Vegetarian Butcher Maria’s Italian Pastrami

Deli Meat — Other


Witty Tui  Italian Style

Runner Up:
Plan*t Chick*n

A big congratulations to local plant-based protein producer Plan*t, whose Spicy Chorizo was declared the top vegan sausage of 2023!


Aotearoa Vegan and Plant Based Living Magazine
This article was sourced from the Winter 2023 edition of The Vegan Society magazine.
Order your own current copy in print or pdf or browse past editions.

The articles we present in our magazine and blog have been written by many authors and are are not necessarily the views and policies of the Vegan Society.

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