Every Aussie knows that Melbourne is a cosmopolitan paradise of superb coffee, food and wine. However, sometimes the plethora of options can be overwhelming, and for a vegan visiting the city – it’s difficult to know where to begin. Enter, Melbourne Vegan Tours – a boutique walking tour company – run by husband and wife duo, Dan and Jess Ivers.
Melbourne Vegan Tours was developed this year in response to the growing national interest in vegan cuisine – and aims to showcase some of Melbourne’s best chefs, baristas and mixologists, who are breaking the mold when it comes to plant-based dining. The tours also encompass some of the city’s loveliest cruelty-free boutiques and vegan friendly shops.
The team from VeganNews.com.au was lucky enough to join Dan and Jess for one of their “Concrete Jungle” tours of inner-city Melbourne. However, there are also plenty of opportunities to check out cultural hubs such as Fitzroy, St Kilda and even the Mornington Peninsula.
Here’s what our delightful CBD itinerary involved:
1. The Guild Cafe, Russell Street
The newly refurbished State Library of Victoria isn’t just an exceptional destination for lovers of literature – caffeine addicts can get their fix here too! Set among sleek rows of books and modern art, The Guild Cafe serves up hot and cold brew coffee every weekday from 8am.
The team’s specialty is organic almond milk; choose from dark chocolate, prana chai, golden grind or matcha, to add some pizzazz to your next coffee order. An all-day vegan menu (including fresh ramen, salads and sandwiches) is accompanied by a delicious array of dairy-free sweet treats from the Eat Well Co. We recommend the raw coconut cakes – or a yummy vegan protein ball for a guilt-free snack on the go.
PS: Did we mention their baristas are surely some of the most charismatic in the business?
2. Union Kiosk, Causeway Lane
Is there anything more comforting than a hot, toasted jaffle on a cool Melbourne day? The popularity of Union Kiosk would suggest not! This former newsstand-turned-cafe is in fact Melbourne’s smallest coffee spot, with room for only two dedicated chefs to stand shoulder to shoulder.
The ‘hole in the wall’ style of space doesn’t stop Rohan, Tatum and their team from serving up a mouth-watering selection of vegan jaffles daily. Their tasty menu boasts inventive flavours such as vege bolognese with garlic butter, jack-fruit cheese and chilli pineapple – or my personal favourite, mushroom basil and mozzarella. A choice of vegan sweet treats and expertly crafted coffee (with plant-based milk) makes Union Kiosk a little laneway gem!
3. The Organic Food & Wine Deli, Degraves St
If you’re a lover of delectable homestyle food that’s completely organic and ethically produced – then the Organic Food & Wine Deli is for you! Offering a sumptuous selection of pastries, pies, salads, sandwiches, wraps, burgers, cakes, curries and soups – Jeanette and her team cater for a wide variety of dietary requirements – including vegan, gluten free and sugar free.
The team is completely dedicated to ethical business practices; using Fair Trade coffee, local growers and suppliers, and recyclable packaging. This commitment to quality is reflected in the food too; we had the pleasure of taste testing vegan sausage rolls – made from walnut mince and served with curry sauce – which was a delight for the tastebuds!
PS: Did we mention the sky-high chocolate layer cake that looked (almost) too good to eat?
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4. Smoothme Superfoods, Spencer St
If there’s one colourful food trend we never want to go away – it’s the açaí bowl. The team from Smoothme Superfoods have this popular breakfast/ lunch/ dinner/ dessert option nailed – with original açaí flavours such as salted caramel, pink pitaya and choc mint. Served in a coconut bowl with wooden cutlery – check out Smoothme for a sustainable, healthy and totally photogenic treat!
5. Perfect Potion, Little Collins St
Of course, no tour of Melbourne would be complete without a spot of retail therapy! Perfect Potion is one of Australia’s most popular purveyors of aromatherapy oils, potions and lotions – and the range is largely cruelty-free, vegan and certified organic. Ask the friendly staff in-store for more information.
6. The Australia Natural Soap Company, Centreway Arcade
This pleasantly scented boutique is nestled in the heritage-listed Centreway Arcade, and offers all-natural soaps, bath salts, essential oils and fragrances. Products from The Australia Natural Soap Company are completely vegan, cruelty-free and palm oil free. Their wares are also biodegradable, and contain no detergents and parabens – making them a perfect Christmas gift!
For more information about Melbourne Vegan Tours, visit: www.facebook.com/melbvegantours/
Cover photo by Heidi Sandstrom