With more than 3000 vegan products on the shelves, Greens in Newtown is the country’s largest plant-based supermarket. Expect baskets filled with everything from fresh fruit and veg, pantry staples and treats such as vegan Kit Kats, to international imports like “eggless” eggs and dairy-free parmesan cheese from Tuscany. Plus, there are house-baked slabs of focaccia.
Peter Varvaressos (ex-Contrabando) co-founded Greens with his partner, Sophia Stewart-Kasimba, and mother, Maria Varvaressos. “As a vegan, doing the weekly shop can mean having to visit five or six stores,” Varvaressos tells Broadsheet. “But [Greens has] everything a conventional supermarket has in one space.”
As well as staples, Greens sells products that are hard to find in Australia. There’s New York-based brand Simply Eggless, a liquid egg substitute made of lupin beans that poaches, scrambles and bakes to rival its chicken-laid counterpart. Chickpea flour and coconut oil form the basis of Gondino, a wheel of parmesan from Tuscany. From Amsterdam, there’s Zeastar’s Zalmon Sashimi, “no-salmon sashimi” that Varvaressos determined was best after blind tasting every vegan sashimi on the market.
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Another focus is locally made small-batch goods. An in-house bakery delivers slabs of focaccia and there’s a range of house-brand cheeses, made exclusively for Greens in Stanmore by Miller Lane Foods. South Australian almonds are processed into milk, which forms the base for feta, bocconcini and a creamy ricotta.
For shoppers keen to snack on the spot there’s on-site eatery Canteen. Take a seat on the footpath and choose from rice paper rolls and a daily line-up of salads and bowls. Canteen plays a role in the grocer’s mission: zero food waste by 2024. Leftover produce makes its way onto the menu, as well as nearby vegan restaurant Vandal, also owned by Varvaressos and Stewart-Kasimba. The food offering is set to expand later this year with the opening of two Japanese eateries on-site – sushi restaurant Kimu Sabi and teppanyaki bar Hide.
Anything that doesn’t make the cut ends up at not-for-profit Zambi Wildlife Retreat in western Sydney, nourishing retired circus animals. The zero food waste policy not only helps the planet but helps keep expenses down – as does operating via solar energy. “We’re minimising running costs, [which] is the only way we can compete with more established supermarkets.”
With high ceilings and pendant lighting, the space has a bright, airy feel with exposed brick walls and dark timber floors. Staff are on hand to chat about products and shoppers can indicate they’d like help by picking up a green basket over a red. “It’s very effective,” says Varvaressos of the unique system. “The other day a couple came in on the first day of being vegan. He was a personal trainer, so I got him some plant-based proteins, while she loved fried chicken, so I showed her the best.”
61 Enmore Road, Newtown