Regional Victoria is going vegan
From classic Italian dishes to breakfasts that pack a punch, regional Victoria is dishing up some culinary vegan delights.
If you’re a city dweller, you’ll have noticed vegan food has been well and truly making its presence known in the Melbourne food scene for some years now.
In fact, Globehunters has named Melbourne the third-top city in the world for vegans and vegetarians, behind London and Berlin, with Sydney taking fourth spot. Sydney pips Melbourne for most vegetarian/vegan restaurants with 742 to our 548, and 62 vegan restaurants to Melbourne’s 61.
But it’s not all happening in the city. Travel a few hours in any direction and you’ll find that regional Victoria isn’t being left out. From decadent sweet treats to nourishing brunches (and even cheese platters), our regions are offering up something different, and always delicious.
Take our tour of regional Victoria’s growing vegan food scene.
You’ll want to waffle on at The Sweet Meadow, Echuca’s first plant-based health bar.
The Mornington Peninsula has long been associated with fish and chips on the beach, but that’s not all it’s offering now. Things began with Wombat Cafe and Store, but since 2016 others have hopped on board.
Wombat Cafe and Store
Kick things off at Dromana’s Wombat Cafe and Store, the first entirely vegan cafe and store on the Mornington Peninsula. From tasty breakfasts that are as pretty as they are delicious, to freshly baked cakes and tarts, there’s no risk of going hungry here. Plus, your purchases help support the connected farm animal sanctuary, Plumfield Farm.
Soulful Vegan Food
Not many 21-year-olds can say they’ve got their own cafe, but Soulful Vegan Food owner Emma can. Her passion for creating delicious, nutritious vegan food began with a stall at the local market, and has grown into this bright cafe attracting more regulars every day. Think miso noodle soups, colourful salad bowls and even brighter smoothies.
This Mornington cafe and wine bar isn’t entirely vegan, but the owners have created an extensive vegan menu alongside their traditional Italian fare to ensure no one has to miss out on a delicious meal. At Assaggini, sit back with a glass of wine, good company, and a dairy-free cheese platter. If that’s not hitting the spot, how about a mushroom, zucchini and mozzarella pizza?
As well as stunning views over rolling hills and to Fingal Beach beyond, Cape at Cape Schanck has been at the heart of the peninsula’s farm-to-table movement. With a modern Australian menu that showcases local ingredients carefully curated by executive chef Josh Pelham, and paired to perfection with a stunning selection of Mornington’s finest wines, this is contemporary dining at its best. And no dietary detail has been spared, with menus catering to all requirements, including vegan, gluten-free and fructose-free.
Keep the feast going with a Gourmet Getway at RACV’s Cape Schanck Resort. The package includes overnight accommodation for two, a two-course dinner at Cape with sparkling wine on arrival, and full buffet breakfast.
The Sweet Meadow
As vegan cafes go, this plant-based health bar is upping Echuca’s brunch ante. We’re talking pretty-as-a-picture vanilla waffles with berries, housemade ice-cream, chia jam, almond flakes and a drizzle of maple syrup, oh-so-Instagrammable green breakfasts and almost too pretty to eat oat porridge. Plus, you can indulge knowing everything at The Sweet Meadow is made using nutritious, whole ingredients.
If it’s vegan you can eat cake without any guilt, right?
While technically a vegetarian restaurant, you won’t struggle to find delicious vegan food at Hamster Cafe. Tucked away in Kyneton, owner Mara has long been focused on providing customers with local, sustainable and affordable vegetarian dishes – with plenty of vegan and gluten-free options also available. The menu changes with the seasons and ranges from classic toasties to hearty soups (particularly in winter) and guilt-free sweet treats. Plus, there’s a super-cute courtyard to enjoy it all in.
Adam and Eve
This Bendigo cafe with its plant-based menu is all about providing healthy, tasty food to locals – so it’s fitting that it’s located within a gym. However, at Adam and Eve there’s no exercise required to polish off a serve of their southern-fried cauliflower, an oozy vegan toastie and a strong cappuccino. Or, of course, a fresh smoothie. You’ve got options.
Bed and Broccoli
Not only does regional Victoria have a growing vegan food scene, it also has the country’s first vegan bed and breakfast. Located just out of Castlemaine in Elphinstone, Bed and Broccoli offers a peaceful retreat for visitors, giving them the chance to sit back, enjoy an open fire, and polish off some home-made vegan food. How’s the serenity?
Chat For Tea
While there is always room for a cafe offering up fresh salads and smoothies, Chat For Tea in Ballarat styles itself as a vegetarian tea house. And the staff are happy to help you out with plenty of vegan offerings or dish alterations.
Il Piccolo Gelato
When you’re finished with dinner, head over to Il Piccolo Gelato. The store changes its flavours regularly using seasonal ingredients, and always has a few dairy-free sorbetto options that’ll leave you wanting to buy a tub to take home.
Why not make a weekend of it and explore the best of the north west's dining scene from your home base at RACV Goldfields Resort. Members receive discounts on accommodations as well as special offers for local attractions.
Sprout and Bean
Geelong has a thriving food scene that extends to its vegan and vegetarian offerings. A local favourite for organic, locally sourced goodies is Sprout and Bean cafe. Think hearty soups (how does roasted maple sweet potato and coconut pumpkin sound?) and home-made chai. Or local favourite, the falafel wrap.
King of the Castle
As well as having some of the best coffee in town, King of the Castle cafe has a range of wholefood and vegan eats sure to tickle any health enthusiast’s tastebuds. From the decadent vegan breakfast with a quinoa hash brown, grilled tomato, field mushrooms, smoked tofu, half an avocado and house-made chimichurri on sourdough toast to vegan tahini bowls, sauteed autumn greens and coconut black rice pudding – they’ve got your sweet, savoury and even dessert options covered.
Surf Coast Wholefoods
If you’re after a vegan feed and need to re-stock your pantry, too, Surf Coast Wholefoods is the cafe-come-grocer for you. Boasting a selection of the finest organic produce, locally made dips and dairy substitutes, superfoods and sustainable living products, as well as an in-store cafe that’s whizzing up delectable smoothies, salads and raw treats. It’s basically vegan nirvana.
Surf the foodie coast then kick your heels up and unwind at RACV Torquay Resort, where members can access great discounts on stays.
Get your organic and cruelty-free on at Green Heart Organics in Inverloch. Warm up with a vegan latte (hello, unicorn bliss) or a steaming bowl of lentil dahl, or treat yourself to a vegan snickers bar healthy slice.
Make a weekend of it with a stay at RACV Inverloch Resort.