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One study done by a leading nutrition brand in Australia ranked the country's top ten vegan-friendly cities based on how many vegan cafes and restaurants it has for every 10,000 people. Queensland took the top three spots, particularly Sunshine Coast, Gold Coast, and Cairns, with a combined average of 10 per 10,000 people. (1)
Sad to say, at just 1.3 per 10,000 people, Melbourne is at rock bottom. (1)
Then again, being one of the most populated cities in the country, it doesn't necessarily mean Melbourne has few vegan joints. As a growing number of Aussies have started to travel down the meat-free path, more cafes and restaurants will soon pop up to meet demand. Furthermore, they don't have to be too hard on the wallet either.
Whether you've gone fully vegan or just about to, don't despair. This guide will point you to Melbourne's affordable vegan eats and what to get from each. Just remember to practice social distancing while dining out, though.
1. Don Taco
From a pop-up to a full-fledged restaurant, Don Taco Melbourne brings genuine flavours of Mexico sans the meat. For around $ 6.00, you can enjoy their selection of vegan tacos. But their menu isn't limited to just tacos, as they also offer burritos, ceviche, and alcoholic drinks.
If you really want to get more bang for your buck, drop by the restaurant on Tuesday evening. Its Taco Tuesday event offers all-you-can-eat vegan tacos for $15 or two and a half tacos' worth. But you'll need to book your reservation in advance.
Don Taco is located along Lygon Street, Brunswick East. It's open from Tuesday to Saturday, 5pm to 9pm Taco Tuesday has two schedules: 6pm and 7.30pm.
2. Union Kiosk
Craving for sandwiches and coffee? Consider checking out this café along Causeway Lane, a quiet stretch surrounded by the hustle and bustle of Melbourne's shopping hub. It offers a wide range of jaffles, sandwiches toasted using a sandwich maker or waffle iron.
Apart from being 100 per cent vegan, Union Kiosk's jaffles also offer a gluten-free option to lessen the guilt for some. Even better, any jaffle you choose won't cost you over $10 - an affordable way to get your pick-me-up after a long day. (2)
Union Kiosk is located along Little Collins Street, right in the heart of Melbourne. It's open all week except Sundays, 7.30am to 4pm on Mondays to Fridays and 8am to 4pm on Saturdays. (2)
How would you like to dine out while helping the homeless and hungry in the process? Society Melbourne, a non-profit whose aim is to reduce homelessness in Australia, will let you do just that with its network of cafes and restaurants.
Among these is Home.one, another café that serves vegan toasties and coffee for around $10. Every dollar you spend goes to Society Melbourne's rent subsidy and hospitality training programs, helping homeless Aussies become self-sufficient and find adequate shelter. That's right; this café doesn't make a profit. (3)
So, if you want to do your part in giving people a home, drop by Home.one along Florence Street in Brunswick. It's open seven days a week, 7am to 2.30pm on weekdays and 8am to 3pm on weekends.
4. Lentil as Anything
Concluding this list is another non-profit: the famous Lentil as Anything. While starting as a non-vegan restaurant in St. Kilda, it has embraced the animal-free lifestyle in the late 2010s. Its menu varies between lunch and dinner but typically offers four-course all-vegan meal of burgers, carbs, stews, and desserts. (4)
However, its most defining feature is its 'pay as you feel' business model. Exactly as it says on the tin, the model allows diners to pay as much as they want, whether for the kitchen's effort or other reasons. It's a risky model that had put the restaurant on the brink of closure one too many times, but the brand insists on keeping it that way. (5)
Currently, Lentil as Anything operates four branches, three in Melbourne and one in Sydney. The Melbourne branches are located in St. Kilda (along Blessington Street), Abbotsford (along St. Heliers Street), and Thornbury (along High Street).
This list is by no means exhaustive. There are more places in Melbourne that can satisfy your vegan fix than you think. More importantly, these restaurants show that adopting a cruelty-free lifestyle for the sake of the environment doesn't have to be costly.
1. "New Research Reveals The Best Australian Cities For Vegan Food, And It's Not What We Expected" Australia's most vegan friendly cities
2. "Union Kiosk" Zomato - Union Kiosk
3. "home.one" Zomato - Home-One
4. "Lentil as Anything" Zomato - Lentil as Anything
5. "Vegan, pay-what-you-feel restaurant chain Lentil as Anything on the brink" The Age - On the brink