Will Sydney shine again in this year’s Nourish Vegan Awards?

Vote for your favourite vegan brands in the Nourish Vegan Awards. Photo: nourishmagazine.com.au.

Vote now for your favourite vegan brands, in this celebration of the full and abundant plant-based life available to Aussie vegans! By Elizabeth Usher.

In last year’s inaugural Nourish Vegan Awards, Sydney’s Bodhi Restaurant Bar was voted Best Vegan Restaurant. Despite being temporarily closed due to Sydney’s current lockdown, it’s up for nomination once again in the 2021 awards, with voting open until 11.59pm AEST this Sunday, 15 August. 

Bodhi’s vegan smoked ‘duck’ sliders. Photo: Elizabeth Usher.

Will Sydney retain the crown? Locals Alibi Bar & Kitchen and Eden Bondi are in the mix as well, up against a Melbourne trio plus one each from Queensland, South Australia and Western Australia. 

Nourish magazine’s editor Rachael Morris was born in Sydney, then moved to Melbourne as an adult and lived there for quite some time, before moving back to NSW, settling just north of Sydney on the Central Coast. This gives her a great insight into the vegan rivalry between the two cities. She says: “If you’d asked me probably only five years ago I’d have said hands down Melbourne is easily the most vegan friendly city but Sydney has really, really put up the challenge in recent years; it’s just as vibrant and alive as Melbourne!”

Rachael Morris, Nourish magazine editor. Photo: Rachael Morris/Facebook.

The 2021 Nourish Vegan Awards covers a wide range of categories, from casual and restaurant dining (with Sydney’s Shift Eatery and Soul Burger both up for the Vegan Casual Dining Award); to vegan wellness; fashion; accessories; skin, body and hair care; and even a ‘vegan-friendly’ designation. In fact, Morris states, “One of the greatest challenges for anyone who works on the awards … is narrowing down from all the options that are out there today – and I have to say, if my job keeps getting harder in that way, I’ll be the happiest plant-based editor around!”

In 2016 Soul Burger offered ‘the Plant-Based Disgrace’ – yes, I shared this with a friend! Photo: Elizabeth Usher.

The ins and outs of the whole voting process are fairly simple, with nine nominees for each of the 26 categories being chosen by the team at Nourish and a six-person expert panel, which includes Morris herself and Sydney vegan scene darling Katrina Fox. Brands currently have the option to put themselves forward for consideration for the 2022 Nourish Vegan Awards by completing the ‘brand registration form’ ahead of the deadline on 31 January, 2022. 

Morris explains this is “just to make sure brands have confidence that they’ve been considered. We create huge long lists of who needs to be considered and we like to give brands the confidence that they can put themselves in front of us.” She says this is particularly powerful for start-ups and smaller brands, such as businesses that operate stalls at interstate markets, so they can be sure they’re on the radar during the process of figuring out the nominees for each category.

In addition, there are two ‘open field’ categories, the Vegan Change Maker of the Year Award for “plant-based brands or advocates who have brought about inspirational change within the plant-forward community” and the People’s Choice Award, which gives “the opportunity to nominate your all-time favourite plant-based brand you can’t live without”.

Nourish magazine celebrates plant-based living. Photo: Nourish Magazine Australia/Facebook.

Morris wraps up our chat with obvious enthusiasm for the way the Nourish Vegan Awards sets out to “celebrate the plant based life that we’re all living in various ways, and how easy that’s become because of all the options that are out there for us”. 

“Our big line for Nourish is, ‘You don’t need to miss out on a thing, you can live joyfully and abundantly enjoying all the things you love when living a plant based life,’ so we celebrate and showcase that full and abundant, often ‘luxey’ life at times: all the foods, all the fashion, all the beauty products, you name it. It’s all plant based and we love it all!” 

Long-term vegans will remember that this is not the first awards program established by an Australian to recognise the vegan world, with Blue-Mountains-based author and publisher Kathy Divine setting up the Vegan of the Year Awards almost a decade ago to honour the achievements and talents of the worldwide vegan community. Divine is always incredibly supportive of others’ vegan initiatives, telling the Sentinel, “I ran the Vegan of the Year Awards for several years and it’s great to see another program recognising the vegan community – what an exciting sign of the growth of veganism!”

Kathy Divine ran the Vegan of the Year Awards during the early-to-mid 2010s. Photo: Kathy Divine/Facebook.

So, Sydneysiders – get voting! Anyone with an email address can vote, whether vegan or not, and you can choose to skip a category, for example if you don’t have an opinion on that particular item or don’t know the brands listed. There is also the option to provide additional information at the end to enter a draw for prizes including Coles gift cards and a Vitamix Ascent commercial-grade blender. 

Once you’ve had your say, keep an eye out on World Vegan Day, 1 November, when Nourish magazine will be announcing all the winners and we’ll see if Sydney can retain bragging rights over Melbourne! 

Elizabeth Usher is the vegan editor of the Sydney Sentinel.