When I travel, the one thing I struggle with the most, is searching for vegan restaurants, which is intensified when I’m away from my normal comfort zone of where I live. Being a Gold Coast resident, I can happily say that we are very spoiled with options everywhere here on the Gold Coast, however this is not the case everywhere else. For this reason, before I leave my comfort zone, I always try and plan ahead, do a little research and try to either stay in an area where vegan options are highly available or at least try and look for places not too far from the location where I’m staying. Yes, it all sounds very easy and trust me I do often say google is my best friend, especially in situations like this. However, try placing yourself in a large city, a city you’ve never been to before where you are feeling a little overwhelmed, people bumping into you, traffic chaos…… while trying to follow your GPS’s directions. Yeah! Not so easy right?
My first getaway was 6 months after going vegan and I thought I would try to keep it simple and go to Melbourne, surely with all the different cultures in Melbourne vegan food wouldn’t be a problem, right? We stayed right in the City at the Novotel by Little Collins Street and wandered the streets in the freezing cold and we had no idea where to start. We had only 3 nights in Melbourne because that’s all we could fit in and our vegan food venture was a huge fail. I ended up feeling quite disappointed and eating avocado on toast pretty much everywhere I went. I did find a few places that had adjusted their menu to make my meals vegan but to be honest it wasn’t necessarily the kind of experience I was looking for, so I returned home quite upset. I later found out that there were so many places that I could have gone to but I didn’t do well enough with my research to find them. I let the big city scared me a little, which meant that I missed out.
Two years later and the opportunity to go back to Melbourne came through work, which meant I had half a day in Melbourne to plan for. Because of my previous experience I didn’t want to mess this one up, after all Melbourne is one of the fastest growing cities for the Vegan movement with over 100 fully vegan or vegetarian restaurants now open across the City and State. Rather than missing out again, I went ahead and booked “The Jungle Vegan Food Tour” with Melbourne Vegan Tours.
My tour guide was Jess who is a local experts and passionate vegan, she’s also the Founder and Co-owner of Melbourne Vegan Tours. Now, before you switch off and tune out let me tell you about my tour experience so you can quickly jump online and book yours.
FYI - During the tour there is A LOT of food provided so you will finish the tour well-fed, satisfied and inspired to learn more about the vegan movement – so I suggest you begin the tour hungry! I went while hungry and thank goodness I did because all food, snacks and drinks are included in the ticket price.
Our first stop was at the Guild Café... Which specialises in fresh almond milk coffee. We tried the plain almond milk (using just 4 ingredients which were; Australian almonds, filtered water, Murray River Sea Salt and Mejdool dates)... super delicious! After that, we tried the Mork Chocolate flavoured milk and Konomi Matcha flavoured milk. My favourite was the Mork Chocolate Flavoured milk and if you do end up doing this tour you must try this one.
Straight from Guild Café we walked over to The Australian Natural Soap Company. This is where I completely covered myself in natural essential oil perfumes, they smelled so fresh that I had to try them all. In saying that, if you’re looking for beautiful gifts to take home to family and friends, this is where you will find amazing products that are Vegan, palm oil free and soaps that are biodegradable. Best of all, all products are made there, in Melbourne (Dandenong), so you’re supporting an Australian family own business. The Australian Natural Soap Company have also raised over $10,000 for The Orangutan Project to stop the illegal trade of Palm Oil and we support businesses that do great things for not only the animals but also our environment.
Next stop was my favourite and that was The Organic Food and Wine Deli. Right here we tried the handmade vegetable nori rolls, the pumpkin and tofu pie and the samosas. Although the food here was very tasty, I did see on the counter and had to buy a very delicious looking croissant which I took with me back to the hotel and ate later that night…it was mind blowing. I don’t regret keeping that croissant all to myself either…Ladies buy the croissant!
Finally, last stop Weirdoughs. In this colourful shop we indulged in desserts. First up was a taste of the Mother of Dragons donut which had a filling of pineapple and jam. Then we had a taste of the Eggplant and Lavender ice cream in a charcoal waffle cone. Again, I do need to mention that I only had one afternoon to experience it all, so I had to take advantage of this situation and end my tour with an ice-cream.
I highly recommend if you’re visiting Melbourne, that you book yourself a tour. Honestly, you won’t regret it, not only is it a great way to socialise and meet other vegans from around the world but also it is a great way to see what vegan foods are available in the area. And for those who aren’t vegan, this tour is for all and certainly not there to pressure you into anything. Just go and be open and experience a Melbourne Vegan Tour.