The old adage ‘you are what you eat’ is becoming increasingly relevant within today’s fast paced, stress-laden society; doctors are prescribing healthy eating as a form of disease prevention, the drive for organic and local produce is creeping ever higher, and everywhere you look, vegan and vegetarian eateries are popping up as people become more attuned to their culinary choices, and the resulting environmental impact these choices have.
Sure, all this isn’t exactly what you’d call revolutionary – rather, it’s perhaps more of a revival – and we hipster-esque Melburnians love nothing more. Albert Einstein himself once said that “nothing will benefit human health and increase chances of survival of life on Earth as much as the evolution to a vegetarian diet…” and you know if old mate Albert said it, it’s probably true. That guy was E=MC² level smart. As such, we’ve decided to jump on board the ethical eating train, and sniff out all the best spots to grab a bite of guilt-free and ethical grub around the city. All aboard…
201-203 Faraday Street, Carlton
Want to count yourself among the likes of Carlos Santana, Kylie Minogue and the late, great David Bowie? Relax, you can give your vocal chords (and possibly your friend/family/co-workers ears if you’re a karaoke-er) a break – just get yourself down to Shakahari Carlton and dine like the stars.
Shakahari caters to nigh on everyone, be you vegan, gluten-free, vegetarian, or dairy-free, and each dish is carefully considered in terms of its content; no more will you have to worry about the protein, fibre or any assortment of vitamins or minerals that may be more difficult to ensure are part of a balanced vege diet. The wine list is also on trend, being locally sourced from across Australian and New Zealand, and maintaining the organic, biodynamic ethos of the establishment.
73 Acland Street, St Kilda
Reading about vegan and vegetarian Melbourne, it can sometimes seem as if all the vegan food is north of the river, but that’s not the case. Sister of Soul has St. Kilda and the bayside area covered with its all-day breakfast, lunch and dinner vegetarian and vegan menu. If you’ve had a big night out (or even if you haven’t) head in for the big vegan breakfast, or sample the tempeh massaman curry and deep fried eggplant for your vegan fill after a session at the beach. Whatever you choose, follow it up with the rocky road, which includes house-made vegan marshmallows. Guilt free in everything but calories ya’ll.
41 Blessington St, St Kilda
Continuing the St. Kilda trend, you have to get yourself down to Lentil As Anything cafe for a cheeky seaside bite. If you’re not in the mood for the beach, there are more of these little gems dotted about in Abbotsford Convent, Footscray and Preston; each one a not-for-profit vegetarian restaurant where any proceeds are put back into funding projects to help acclimatise and re-establish the lives of migrants and refugees. Can it get any better than helping out your fellow human while also indulging yourself in some fabulous food?
Rear 202 Carlisle St, Balaclava
If you’re one of those in need of a good bout of nourishment sans-guilt – head straight to Balaclava and make your way to Monk Bodhi Dharma. The whole menu is vegetarian, and mostly vegan. What you’ll find instead of eggs and cheese is world-class coffee, and an animal-friendly menu that will feed your stomach as well as your soul.
163A Sydney Road, Brunswick
Right, this is a pub… with beer…. and also a full menu inclusive of vegan options for basically everything. I’m not kidding. In fact, reading the menu nearly made me weep with excitement. Vegan gourmet pizzas, spicy ‘wings’, burgers, parmas, ‘fish’ and chips and chimmi dogs, as well as as much salad and souvlaki your little vegan belly can hold.
Once you’re done eating your way through the whole menu (which makes up the entirety of my weekend plan), remember you’re actually at a pub and wash it all down with a couple of vegan-friendly pints. Bliss.
2-6 Swilk Street, Templestowe
Its been described in the bloggisphere as literally the best vegan cafe you can visit in Melbourne. You can make up your own mind, of course, but some of the reasons provided include the relaxing, inviting atmosphere and a fabulous, fresh menu. So fresh is some of it, that it actually hasn’t been cooked. Yes, my ethical friends, there is a large array of raw cakes and treats to tempt you, if you’re so inclined. If you’re out for a leisurely brunch on a sunny weekend, check out the lovely outdoor area where you can sit, eat, and soak up the day.
227 Collins St, Melbourne
Vege or vegan on a budget in the big city? Suffer baked beans on toast no more. Om vegetarian offers up some pretty hearty food for a fantastic price – and on Swanston Street, too. Believe it. Their most popular dish is the all you can eat thali, which will set you back a cool $6.50. If you’re just after a cheeky cheap yet delicious snack, you can’t go past their samosas, deliciously spiced and served with tamarind sauce.
175 Brunswick St, Fitzroy
Rounding out the list is one of Melbourne’s staple vegan outfits, Smith & Daughters (also check out Smith & Deli in Fitzroy for something delicious and vegan on the go). This very cool little bar and eatery has a rock‘n’roll vibe, some amazingly tasty and innovative vegan fare (think ‘seafood’ and ‘chorizo’ made from tofu and the root of a plant called konjac), and wants to challenge the stereotype that vegan cuisine is boring or bland. We’re convinced.
By Courtney White
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