Before you run a mile at even the mention of vegan food, you should know, if you don't already, that it’s not as scary as many assume, can be a very healthy way to eat and is easy to find in our food-frenzied city. Melbourne, in fact, happens to be Australia’s most vegan-friendly city, packed with restaurants, cafes, bars and shops that cater to those of plant-based leanings. Most of your favourite restaurants, cafes and bars will likely serve vegan fare, and you probably don’t even know. Whether you’re after breakfast, sweets, a drink or dinner (sans animal), here’s our guide to the best of vegan Melbourne.
Monk Bodhi Dharma
Rear 202 Carlisle Street, Balaclava
They say good things come in small packages, and Monk’s certainly lives up to the maxim. Tiny but neatly decked out, this little cafe cooks everything in the kitchen from scratch, with a focus on fresh and healing food and drink (particularly tea). Breakfast is the real drawcard, with the star performer being the French toast with pears, pistachio and a caramelised sauce. Keep an eye out for morning degustations, where a three-course breaky is matched with specialty coffees for the ultimate morning meal.
347 Sydney Road, Brunswick
Shop ‘til you drop [for your kitchen cupboards] at Radical Grocery, Melbourne’s only 100 per cent vegan supermarket. Pantry items, drinks, dairy-free cheeses, tea, chocolate and eat-now treats line the shelves alongside beauty products, cleaning gear, books and gifts. With a focus on organic, fairtrade, Choose Cruelty Free and local products, there is plenty to fill your ethical shopping bags with. Best of all, it’s reasonably priced. radicalgrocery.com
Level 1, 11 Collins Street, Melbourne
Offering contemporary Mexican food by way of Melbourne’s first real taqueria, Mamasita’s menu happens to be inspired by a cuisine that is largely bean- and corn-based. So apart from being fresh and delicious, it also appeals to a wide range of diners.
Order a margarita then turn your attention to the food and settle in to share tacos, quesadillas, guacamole, ejotes and tortilla chips. Do not go past the chili relenos: bullhorn chilies stuffed with wild mushrooms, pepitas, epazote and pumpkin sauce – it’s worth the wait to get a seat.
Yong Green Food
421 Brunswick Street, Fitzroy
Yong’s offers an eclectic mix of raw, Korean-inspired vegetable-based dishes, but it works. The raw menu is extensive, and hearty, featuring favourites such as ‘rawsagna’ and raw nachos. On the Korean side, the kimchi pancake has developed a cult following.
Although there is no liquor license, there is a large list of other options, many teas and Yong’s signature almond milk and agave drink. The raw cheesecake desserts are worth travelling for.
Casa del Gelato
163 Lygon Street, Carlton
On a hot summer night the most jumping place in town is Casa del Gelato. You will salivate over the selection of soy-based creamy gelato such as baci, coffee, and pistachio available. If fruity flavours are more your thing, the dairy-free green apple, tangy lemon and peach are sure to float your boat.