Celebrating Melbourne’s Liveability for Vegans with 100 Victorian Directory Listings

Part of my motivation for starting the Fire & Tea blog is my passion for travelling through the city in which I live. This week, Melbourne was voted the world’s most liveable city in the world for the seventh year in a row. Seventh year in a row! Thinking back, I’ve been vegan for almost all this time (just shy of one year) and my blogging has documented much of my vegan travels, both in Australia and abroad. You may have also read my previous posts about how liveable Melbourne is for vegans.

What I love about Melbourne is that travellers can use the city as a central hub from where their travels can oscillate – within the city’s limits and beyond into regional Victoria.

Since starting my vegan journey, I’ve been documenting the spots around town and regional where I’ve managed to eat a vegan meal (full vegetarian and/or vegan hotspots or locales that host vegan menus or vegan options), experience a vegan activity or shop vegan. Last weekend, I reached my 100th vegan directory listing. What a timely moment, to coincide with Melbourne’s latest liveability crown!

To celebrate, I have listed the mighty scroll below for your vegan travelling pleasure. I hope you manage to travel to Melbourne in your lifetime and experience the vegan travels that await you.

Albert Park: Urban Projuice for breakfast, brunch, lunch, desserts, cakes and hot and cold drinks
Ascot Vale: Mister Nice Guy's Bake Shop for savoury and sweet pastries, deli items, sandwiches, cakes, coffee and hot and cold drinks
Ascot Vale: World Vegan Day at Melbourne Showgrounds (a massive vegan festival to celebrate World Vegan Day each year)
Bacchus Marsh: Peace Love Vegan Cafe and Bacchus Marsh Natural Health for brunch, lunch, coffee, cakes and natural health supplies
Bayswater: The Hatter & The Hare for gourmet vegan menu options, hot and cold drinks, and cakes/desserts cooked onsite in the patisserie kitchen
Beaufort: Forest Haven B&B for an all-vegan and eco-friendly bed and breakfast
Belgrave: Archie's Place for vegan options in gourmet gelato, vegan gluten-free waffle cones, waffles, shakes and smoothies
Belgrave: Earthly Pleasures for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee and hot and cold drinks
Belgrave: Evolve Fair Food Store for breakfast, brunch, lunch and hot and cold drinks
Belgrave: Grunge Cafe for breakfast, brunch, lunch, cakes, coffee and hot and cold drinks
Belgrave: Savvy Organic Pizza & Icecream for pizza and house-branded icecream and gelato
Berwick: Mr Black Juicery for breakfast, lunch, dessert, cakes, coffee and hot and cold drinks
Brunswick: The Cornish Arms for pub food, lunch, dinner, desserts and drinks
Brunswick: Moroccan Soup Bar for dinner banquets, takeaway, desserts and tea and coffee
Brunswick: We Love Life Festival held annually at CERES
Brunswick East: Kumo Izakaya for Japanese dinner, desserts and hot and cold drinks
Brunswick East: Tamil Feasts at CERES for dinner events with funds going back into the community to support Tamil asylum seekers
Brunswick East: Wildcrafted for groceries, ethically sourced gifts, lunch and drinks
Brunswick East: Whole Lotta Love for drinks and nibbles
Camberwell: Red Robyn Cafe and Restaurant for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee and hot and cold drinks
Carlton: Big Vegan Market at Melbourne's old exhibition building (the first market was held in May 2017; here's hoping for more!
Carlton: Mantra Lounge for a rotating daily menu of vegan dishes and desserts for breakfast, lunch and dinner, plus meditation nights
Carlton: Shakahari Vegetarian Restaurant for dinner, drinks and desserts (Melbourne's first vegetarian restaurant!)
Collingwood: The Fox Hotel for pub meals, drinks and rooftop bar
Collingwood: The Horn African Restaurant for Ethiopian dinners and hot and cold drinks
Collingwood: The People's Market for trash and treasure, stall food and drinks
Collingwood: Shu Restaurant for dumpling banquet nights and hot and cold drinks
Collingwood: Vegan Wares for shoes, boots, sneakers, sandals, other shoes, belts, guitar straps, wallets and bags (My hiking boots are from here!)
Collingwood: Wood Spoon Kitchen for lunch, dinner and drinks

Collingwood: Wholey Day Market for organic, gluten-free, vegan and wholefood vendors (check their Facebook page for future dates)
Cowes: Island Wholefoods for breakfast, brunch, lunch, desserts, coffee and hot and cold drinks
Croydon: Holy Basil Thai for lunch, dinner and hot and cold drinks (sister restaurant to Vanilla Orchid Thai Restaurant)
Croydon: Kofi Beans for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee and hot and cold drinks
Croydon: Taco Bill for Mexican lunch, dinner and hot and cold drinks
Croydon South: Eastfield Natural Foods for short order items, cakes, groceries and hot and cold drinks
Croydon South: Etiko for ethically produced and fair-trade vegan sneakers and footwear, t-shirts, hoodies and bags, underwear
Dandenong: Gibe African Restaurant for Ethiopian lunch, dinner, coffee (plus coffee-making ceremony at extra price) and hot and cold drinks
Doncaster: Vegie Mum Vegetarian Restaurant for Chinese lunch and dinner
Eltham: Second Home for breakfast, lunch and plant-based all vegan turmeric lattes
Elphinstone: Bed & Broccoli for an all vegan bed and breakfast (Australia's first vegan B&B)
Ferntree Gully: Chosen Bean Cafe for breakfast, brunch, lunch and hot and cold drinks
Ferntree Gully: Mountain Gate Chinese Restaurant for vegetarian section of their menu with items that can be veganised
Ferntree Gully: Waratah Organics for breakfast, brunch, lunch, cakes, coffee, hot and cold drinks and takeaway
Ferntree Gully: Wholefood Merchants for breakfast, brunch, lunch, salads, desserts and cakes, hot and cold drinks and groceries
Fitzroy: Curry Smuggler for their dedicated separate menu of vegan Indian entrees, main meals and sides
Fitzroy: Fina's Vegetarian Cafe for Vietnamese lucnh and dinner, cakes, hot and cold drinks
Fitzroy: Friends of the Earth Food Co-op and Cafe for lunch, hot and cold drinks and groceries
Fitzroy: Gelato Messina for house-made gelato and coffee
Fitzroy: Radhey Kitchen and Chai Bar for lunch, desserts, cakes and hot and cold drinks
Fitzroy: Rue de Creperie for French savoury and sweet crepes and hot and cold drinks
Fitzroy: Saba's Ethiopian Restaurant for Ethiopian platters, all-teff injera and hot and cold drinks
Fitzroy: Smith & Daughters for brunch, lunch and dinner

Fitzroy: Smith & Deli for deli-style lunchtime sandwiches and rolls, cakes, coffee and deli supplies
Fitzroy: The Cruelty Free Shop for groceries, books, clothing, household items toiletries and Melbourne's annual Vegan Day Out event
Fitzroy: Transformer Fitzroy for breakfast, brunch, lunch, dinner and hot and cold drinks
Fitzroy: Vegan Day Out which is a one-day exploration of vegan options on Brunswick Street (hosted by The Cruelty Free Shop - grab your map from there)
Fitzroy: Yong Green Food for raw lunch, dinner, desserts and drinks
Fitzroy North: Tramway Hotel for burgers and drinks
Footscray: Krishna on Barkly for fully vegetarian and vegan Indian entrees, mains, sides and drinks
Footscray: The Reverence Hotel for Mexican-inspired pub food for lunch and dinner, beers, desserts and hot and cold drinks (live bands, too!)
Forest Hill: Vegie Bowl Restaurant for Chinese lunch, dinner, banquets, desserts and hot and cold drinks
Geelong: Dolly's Sister Vegan Cafe & Bar for their all-day menu, Sunday menu, salads, raw dishes, smoothies, hot and cold drinks, beers/ciders and wines
Gembrook: The Independent for its separate Argentinean vegan menu for lunch, dinner, hot and cold drinks (warning - Argentinean meat barbecues feature here, too)
Glen Waverley: Mountain View Hotel for its annual Vegan Night featuring a 100% vegan menu of entrees, mains and drinks
Hawthorn: Veggie on Board for Taiwanese food, entrees, main meals, hot and cold drinks, green tea and yum cha
Healesville: Alchemy Yarra Valley (a word of warning - there is taxidermy present here)
Kaniva: Heartfelt for lunch and hot and cold drinks
Kensington: The Abyssinian for Ethiopian dinners and hot and cold drinks
Kew: V Series for breakfast, brunch, lunch, desserts, cakes, hot and cold drinks, dinner Friday and Saturday nights (used to be called A Caterpillar's Dream)
Lancefield: Edgar's Mission Farm Sanctuary for getting back to nature and animals through pre-booked tours
Lilydale: Foods with Benefits for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee, hot and cold drinks
Lilydale: Round Bird Can't Fly for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee, hot and cold drinks and cakes
Malvern: Street Organics for breakfast, brunch, lunch, special event dinners, high teas, hot and cold drinks, cakes and groceries
Melbourne CBD: Gong De Lin for Chinese lunch, dinner, desserts and hot and cold drinks
Melbourne CBD: Supercharger at Emporium for takeaway lunch, cold drinks and desserts
Melbourne CBD: The Organic Food & Wine Deli for vegan options in salads, pies, pastries, quiches, cakes and hot and cold drinks
Melbourne: D'lightful Fine Turkish Delight for Turkish Delight as vegan options at markets around town
Moonee Ponds: Olivia Spring Cafe for all vegan Vietnamese meals, hot and cold drinks and cakes
Northcote: Loving Hut Northcote for lunch, dinner, desserts, hot and cold drinks and cakes
Northcote: Shoku iku for raw lunch, dinner, desserts and 'hot' and cold drinks
Preston: La Panella Bakery for baked goods with vegan options and vegan banh mi
Preston: The Food Truck Park which holds vegan and vegetarian food truck weekends regularly (not to be confused with the Northcote park!)

Richmond: Gelato Messina for house-made gelato and coffee
Richmond: Loving Hut for Asian lunch, dinner, desserts and hot and cold drinks
Richmond: Pana Chocolate for raw handmade chocolates and desserts
Ringwood: Phoolwari Tandoori Indian Restaurant for dinner
Southgate: La Camera for Italian lunch, dinner and hot and cold drinks
South Melbourne: Shakahari too for dinner, desserts and hot and cold drinks
St Kilda: Fritz Gelato for vegan gelato flavours and hot and cold drinks
St Kilda: Mr Natural for gourmet pizza
St Kilda: Sister of Soul for breakfast, brunch, lunch, coffee, hold and cold drinks, dessert
St Kilda: Trippy Taco for Mexican lunch, dinner and hot and cold drinks
St Kilda: Vegilicious for vegetarian and vegan lunches, dinners, desserts and hot and cold drinks
St Kilda: Veg Out Community Gardens for general wandering and admiring the community's communal edible gardens and local artwork
Templestowe: Power Plant for breakfast, brunch, lunch, desserts, coffee, hot and cold drinks
Upwey: Abitza Cafe for coffee, hot and cold drinks and some lunch items on request
Wantirna: Oneworld Knox for their separate vegan menu of Asian food for lunch and dinner, and hot and cold drinks
Warrandyte: Vanilla Orchid Thai Restaurant for lunch, dinner, dessert and hot and cold drinks (sister restaurant to Holy Basil)
Warrandyte: Warrandyte Riverside Market for regular vendors that are vegan or with vegan options such as Von's Vegan Bakehouse and YAY Foods
Wonga Park: Kellybrook Winery for wines, ciders and its annual Kellybrook Cider Festival

I’d love to hear if you have travelled to Melbourne, and experienced any of these listings for yourself. Or, have you found some new secrets listed? Pop your stories about your Melbourne/Victoria travels in the comments below!
(For the rest of Australia, have a peek at my Aussie Vegan Directory)

The Hatter & The Hare and a Vegan Wonderland Adventure in Melbourne's East

“Who are you?” enquires the Caterpillar in Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. “I’m afraid I can’t explain myself, Sir,” Alice confesses in a perplexing tone. “Because I’m not myself, you know?” The Caterpillar inhales scented smoke from his hookah before heaving it from his lungs in a barrel towards Alice. “I do not know”, he declares. “Who are you?”

The Hatter & The Hare Bayswater Melbourne Victoria Australia vegan food travel gluten free

It’s a roundabout of riddles when Alice speaks to the Caterpillar, almost like the start of my visit to The Hatter & The Hare in Melbourne’s east. Once my meal – suitably named Caterpillar’s Riddle – arrives in front of me, the mystery evaporates and curiosity is cured; just like the Caterpillar’s hookah halos. One riddle is solved (which we’ll get to), but a couple more linger like ‘how on earth does a ‘160-seat foodie haven’ come to arrive in the industrial suburb of Bayswater? And, ‘how is The Hatter & The Hare packed by early lunchtime on a sunny winter’s afternoon and I have to wait patiently for a table to open up?’, or even ‘how does a smattering of vegan options magically appear as I turn the pages of the café’s clipboard menu?’

The Hatter & The Hare Bayswater Melbourne Victoria Australia vegan food travel gluten free

The Hatter & The Hare is only a couple of kilometres from my home. Yet, it’s like barrelling down the rabbit hole and being spat out into a tea party inspired wonderland of colourful furnishings matched with gloriously crafted food across two kitchens (the main kitchen in the back and open patisserie out front). The Hatter & The Hare is fashioned by pastel-painted colours, gorgeous trimmings and seating; even the quaint lime-coloured fold-up table my husband and I are seated at (complete with slat chairs) is positioned snugly by the tall and sprawling window flooded in sunlight. I’m in full view of the outdoor patio where brunching guests paw over weekend papers, and veggies in potting boxes soar with green shrubs and herbs. It’s cosy and communal here, in this winter wonderland.

The Hatter & The Hare Bayswater Melbourne Victoria Australia vegan food travel gluten free

Now, back to the curiously tasty food. Aside from carefully crafted and gleaming high-tea sweet treats in the front cabinet that greet and schmooze guests as they arrive (ample Mad Hatter’s tea party fare, let me tell you!), there’s a mid-winter menu to bring unexpected flavours and warmth to the table. I am coaxed by a heading marked ‘Eat Me’ and I find exactly what my winter appetite is calling out for. I read over the description to the vegan dish Caterpillar’s Riddle but there’s no gluten-free abbreviation in sight. So, I wonder: ‘Are you gluten free, too? Because you read like you are!’ Not long before my question seeps to the surface of my mind, the table is visited by a friendly waitress who can help me make sense of the riddle. “Let me check for you,” she offers with a grin and initiative. Moments pass and she’s back. “Yes, it is!”

The Hatter & The Hare Bayswater Melbourne Victoria Australia vegan food travel gluten free

After a while from ordering, Caterpillar’s Riddle emerges from the depths of the kitchen and onto the tabletop, gleaming in the sun. From the first spoonful of rich and hearty mushroom broth, I know this is a dish that will sing to my winter comfort-food heart. The broth is the moat where fluorescent green peas float like buoys, feeding the slab of root vegetable polenta standing solid in the middle of the rotund bowl-plate and towered by more roasted parsnip spears and sautéed mushroom rounds, garnished by green and purple beetroot leaves and sprouts, and crispy, spindly enoki mushrooms. The colours bounce off the walls and surrounds, as if the colour green is the ribbon that ties everything at The Hatter & The Hare together – from the fresh walls and outside dining area, to the shiny pastries waiting to be devoured in their the cabinets and plants dotted around the dining space. I’m revived after I polish off this comforting dish, accentuating the culinary adventures to uncover here. Though, enough room needs to be left in the tum-tum to try a sweet afterwards.

The Hatter & The Hare Bayswater Melbourne Victoria Australia vegan food travel gluten free
The Hatter & The Hare Bayswater Melbourne Victoria Australia vegan food travel gluten free

Thankfully, The Hatter & The Hare has a few vegan cakes to choose from (think brownies, gorgeously iced carrot cake and dainty cupcakes), but there’s only one choice that’s also gluten-free. Not all is lost and one choice is all that’s needed to sample the fruits of the patisserie’s labours. My cherry ripe paddle pop is served to the table on its own saucer, complete with a glistening golden dessert spoon aside a warming cup of matcha latte with soy milk. Once the dessert spoon cracks the paddle pop’s chocolate casing open, there’s a blushing coconut filling found to feast on in between sips of matcha. For the finale, the glacé cherry sitting humbly on top is nibbled on as the last dregs of matcha are gulped down, finishing off this lazy lunch on a sweet high.               

The Hatter & The Hare Bayswater Melbourne Victoria Australia vegan food travel gluten free

Riddles aside, The Hatter & The Hare is hosting its hearty and tasty food drenched in exquisite, sometimes unexpected, flavours, together with brilliant attention to customer service, not to mention baked sweets and sweet drinks to swoon over. These are all the makings for a fanciful tea party-like lunch that can be experienced in downtown Bayswater on a sunny day, in the hope that you stay as long as you willfully wish.

During Lewis Carroll’s infamous tea party, Alice asks White Rabbit: “How long does forever last?” to which he replies: “Sometimes, just one second.” Your mission as part of your invitation to try The Hatter & The Hare is to make forever last that little bit longer than one second. It’s oh-so-easy to do. 

Looking for a fanciful foodie wonderland adventure with vegan options? Visit The Hatter & The Hare at 1/21 Scoresby Road Bayswater, Victoria Australia 3134. Phone: +613 9720 5230.

 Hours: 7.00am to 4.00pm Monday to Friday, 8.00am to 4.00pm Saturday and Sunday. Kitchens close at 3.00pm and drinks station closes at 3.45pm.

Parking is limited so be sure to park at the Bayswater Hotel across the road and wander over. Or, take a train to Bayswater station (only a short walk away).

The Hatter & The Hare only accepts bookings for functions so get in early to secure a table, particularly on weekends.

Discover 4 of Western Australia’s Incredible Wildlife Experiences

Western Australia is one of the world’s largest states and bounds of outstretched landscapes are navigated by travellers who discover incredible wildlife experiences along the way. From the depths of the Southern Ocean off the coast of Albany to the captivating coral colonies of Ningaloo Reef, there is breathtaking and oftentimes unique wildlife to encounter. Western Australia also just happened to be my home for most of my childhood. This meant I was able to experience some of these incredible wildlife experiences while I was there.  Hopefully, these experiences will coax you in mapping out your own Western Australian wildlife journey!

Geordie Bay at Rottnest Island. Photo courtesy of Rottnest Island.

Geordie Bay at Rottnest Island. Photo courtesy of Rottnest Island.

Bike ride around Rottnest Island to spot quokkas

Rottnest Island, only 19 kilometres off the coast of Perth, was once stumbled upon by Dutch captain Willem de Vlamingh in 1696. He spent a few days on the island and decided to name it ‘Rotte Nest’. The reason? He mistook the local wallaby-like marsupials, quokkas, as rats (‘Rotte Nest’ translated to “rat’s nest”). The traditional owners of Rottnest, the Noongar people, were more established and connected to Rottnest having inhabited the area while it was still attached to the Western Australian mainland 7000 years ago. They eventually named the island ‘Wadjemup’, or ‘place across the water’ when the island was separated from Western Australia after rising sea levels. Rottnest’s curious marsupials were eventually given their namesake by those indigenous to the area, and it’s what we know them as today.

Many now make the journey to Rottnest Island, or ‘Rotto’, by ferry to frolic in aquamarine waters edging the fine sands. There are next to no cars here, so the best way to explore Rottnest Island is by hiring a pushbike. Take your time to circumnavigate the island when you can witness its famous native resident; one of the only places to experience them. Quokkas are generally nocturnal so you’ll spot these gorgeous mammals in their element resting and dozing in the shade under native bushes and tea trees roadside. Though, keep your eyes peeled for an occasional spotting of an active quokka with a baby in her pouch. A bike ride will also bring you face-to-face with Rottnest Island’s intriguing salt lakes. 

Snorkel alongside whale sharks at Ningaloo Reef

The northern west coast of Western Australia is where one of the world’s biggest fringing reefs lie – Ningaloo Reef. Stunning marine wildlife awaits snorkelers at this unmissable World Heritage-listed marine park. Rare turtle species and manta ray swim through schools of over 500 species of native fish and a rainbow of coral bridges. Ningaloo Reef is also one of the world’s most accessible reefs for snorkelers who effortlessly swim out to it from the beach. What really draws in the travellers is Ningaloo Reef’s ultimate marine experience – swimming with incredible whale sharks. Between April to July annually, those visiting the area can swim alongside this gathering of the world’s largest fish that grow up to 16 metres long!

Western Australia’s “gentle giants” swim throughout one of Australia’s pristine ecosystems, making a journey to Ningaloo Reef an extraordinary and unique travel experience. You can partake in this exhilarating adventure by booking a tour with an operator from Exmouth or Coral Bay. Ningaloo Reef is also popular for its yearly visit of humpback whale pods migrating to the area between June and November. You can also cap off your Ningaloo experience by taking a kayak to a remote area and spot peaceful dugongs.

 Join a whale-watching trip in Albany

Starting in Western Australia’s lush south, the wildlife experiences are abundant in Albany and happen willingly seaside. This southern coastal town is Western Australia’s first European settlement and home to some of Australia’s impressive oceanic creatures. What is ironic about Albany, is that the town was once a flourishing whaling town. Nestled by the Stirling Ranges and cradled by the Southern Ocean, Albany was the final destination for first settlers to arrive on the ship Amity in 1826. Over the course of 150 years, Albany whalers scoured the ocean in search of gracious southern right whales to feed its industrious ambitions. Thankfully, whaling ceased in Albany by 1978. Since then, Albany has been focused on the conservation of whale populations for visitors to enjoy.

From June to October is the best time of the year to visit Albany for whale-watching and what better way to experience these gentle, deep-sea monoliths in their natural environment than by taking a cruise from the local pier. It’s during this time of year that southern right whales are nursing their young; a beautiful opportunity to witness these whale families. If you’re visiting between August and December, discover a kaleidoscope of wildflowers carpeting the south-west region near Albany too.

Make friends with the dolphins at Shark Bay

A typical childhood memory for many West Australian residents is travelling the thousands of kilometres from Perth to Monkey Mia in Shark Bay for an encounter with the area’s adorable bottlenose dolphin population. When tourism started to spike, visitors to Monkey Mia could actually buy buckets of fish and wade out off the beach to feed these beautiful mammals. This practice started as a result of local fishermen feeding the dolphins back in the 1960s.

Common sense for conservation prevailed, and this en masse feeding was eventually phased out. Though, you can still enjoy the company that these creatures bring while in their natural habitat and partake in a controlled feeding session with a ranger daily. Dolphins play in their pristine, water wilderness and have been doing so here for about 40 years. Shark Bay itself is a World Heritage-listed area and spans over 2 million hectares across two peninsulas. The local Malgana people named this area Gathaagudu, or ‘two waters’. No wonder the dolphins have been coming to this area for so long! Some of Monkey Mia’s quieter attractions can be experienced as well – dugongs, manta rays and turtles that inhabit Shark Bay.

For an all-encompassing experience, head to the ancient stromatolites located at Hamelin Pool where you’ll witness some of the largest and oldest living fossils on the planet. And for a novelty, bury yourself in miniscule shells at Shell Beach. It’s a beach formed from an uncountable amount of shells; one of the only places on the planet where shells replace beach sand.

Have you ever visited Western Australia and experienced one of these incredible wildlife experiences? Or, do you have plans to visit in the near future? Feel free to share your plans in the comments below. I'd love to hear your Western Australian travel stories!

Top 5 Travel Tips to Veganise your Hotel Room

This sponsored post is brought to you in partnership with Webjet.com.au, Australia and New Zealand's leading online travel agency, enabling customers to compare, combine and book the best domestic and international travel flight deals, hotel accommodation, holiday package deals, travel insurance and car hire worldwide.

Travelling the vegan road is sometimes fraught with challenges. While the ability to research cheap hotels has never been easier in this digital age, the ability for travellers to find a suitably vegan lodging may require more careful research. Here are five top travel tips to veganise your travel to a hotel room while at the same time spreading the word that there is a growing demand for vegan accommodation options.

Webjet.com.au Webjet vegan travel travel tips australia

Firstly, search for that suitable hotel or accommodation to stay in

Naturally you can just type the word ‘vegan’ into a search engine and choose from the scrolling options available (Webjet.com.au for example will reveal the Loving Hut Paradise Island Vegan B&B in Taiwan) yet the choices may be on the skimpy side. If accommodation pickings are slim, then do further in-depth research about the lodgings you choose.

Ask for your room to be furnished in fabrics that are not animal derived

Many hotels pride themselves on the aesthetics, and may supply blankets and pillows that are made from animal parts like feathers or wool. It all comes down to branding and an image the hotel seeks to portray. Here is when a phone call to the hotel’s concierge will be time well spent. Talk to the concierge to determine the fibres used in the hotel room you wish to book and ask if particular fibres are present. If animal-derived fibres are used, ask if the hotel can supply your room with plant or synthetic alternatives. If the hotel can’t, then politely decline the hotel and state your reasons why, then find a hotel that can accommodate your needs.        

Webjet.com.au Webjet vegan travel travel tips australia

Does the hotel feature vegan options on its food or room service menu?

Again, digital research can yield countless information when researching a hotel. Find your desired lodgings and read over the hotel’s own website, then feed through its pages to find the menus and room service items. Are there enough items to cater for you for the duration of your stay? If not, then it might be an adventurous opportunity to research the vegan and vegan-friendly restaurants or cafes in the area you’re travelling to. Think – you can always head out or order in.   

Webjet.com.au Webjet vegan travel travel tips australia

And then there are the beauty products, mini bar and welcome snacks…

Again, hotel rooms can be accentuated by welcome snacks, mini bar, complimentary tea and coffee, and complimentary beauty products or toiletries. It can be a free-for-all at times, and this is the trap that vegan travellers can face. Again, contact the concierge to determine what items are in the room as part of the rack rate. Try to find out the brand names so you can research to ascertain whether these items are vegan and don’t contain any animal-derived ingredients. As a last resort, you may need to bring your own toiletry items. Catering-wise, you may find that some alcohols are fine to consume and there may even be fresh fruit available. It’s common, for example, to find a serve of cow’s milk in the fridge in Australian hotels. Recently, a friend of mine asked a hotel to replace the milk with a plant-based option. There was some resistance from the hotel, yet my friend was persistent and reasoned (with respect, of course) the point that she doesn’t consume dairy, so why should she miss out on a cup of tea without milk? The hotel listened, understood the case put forward and provided her room with a small pitcher of soy milk.

We need to reassure hotels that this is not about getting as many freebies we want. It’s a matter of being entitled to what’s included for the money you paid, while not feeling left out. As a vegan customer, this is extremely disheartening to feel left out and choices need to be respected. Vegan travellers deserve the normality that’s afforded to other hotel guests. Ultimately, it’s a common hospitable courtesy that should be respected. If you have the opportunity to leave feedback after your stay, highlight where the hotel has been able to help you, and where they may fall short for vegan guests. There’s a chance here for hotels to cater for all guests (including vegans), which can help increase their business and strengthen their reputation for above and beyond customer service.

Webjet.com.au Webjet vegan travel travel tips australia

Does your chosen hotel have a sustainability or eco-friendly policy?

In recent years, hotel chains are becoming increasingly aware of their impact on the environment and local habitats. If you hotel has a policy that strives to reduce its impact on the environment, then said policy will be listed on their website including actionable goals and outcomes to achieve. More often than not, such policies embrace the hotel’s entire network – from management, staff, suppliers and guests. It’s only through enacting such a policy that a hotel can be truly committed to providing sustainable services that are minimising impact on its immediate environment. So, how does this affect you? Discover how you can play your part in the hotel’s sustainability policy to help minimise your own impact. Read the policy (there may even be prompts in the room itself) to understand what actions the hotel supports.

The easiest ways in which you can reduce your impact is minimising your laundry and resource consumption. Can you use your towel more than once? Do you really need your room cleaned and serviced every single day? If not, then pop a doorknob sign on your door that states you don’t need your room serviced. Minimise the time spent in the shower and the amount of showers you take each day to save on water resources. Get out and about beyond your hotel room, to minimise the time spent sucking up electricity, heating or cooling and water in your room. Explore the town you’re visiting, rather than ruminating in your room. Set aside any recyclable rubbish for the hotel to recycle, rather than tossing this trash away.       

So, what are some ways you aim to veganise your hotel room? Have you ever experienced some brick walls in your travels when you bring up the word vegan? I’d love to hear your travel tales and your safeguard tricks in the comments below.

Visiting Olivia Spring Vietnamese Café for Vegan Cơm tấm and Coffee

Part of my time growing up in Melbourne, I was living in Springvale South. The bordering suburb, Springvale, is known to many for its Vietnamese restaurants and fresh food markets. Before I could drive, my parents would take me out many a Friday night after school to feast on some of the most delicious Vietnamese food Melbourne holds host to. Staple Vietnamese favourites were regularly ordered, along with steaming pots of chrysanthemum tea. It’s these memories that pepper my childhood food travels.

Olivia Spring Cafe vegan Vietnamese food travel coffee

My food travels have taken a broader view and I’m travelling the vegan road to uncover the gluten free options. These types of food choices aren’t so well-known in Vietnamese cuisine (generally, relying heavily on meat-based ingredients and sometimes glutinous noodles or sauces) but it’s in Melbourne where Vietnamese food is pushing the boundaries of tradition for Vietnamese cuisine.

Melbourne Olivia Spring Cafe vegan food travel Vietnamese coffee

It’s only been two months, yet Olivia Spring Café is shaking up tradition with an all-vegan Vietnamese café in Moonee Ponds. To my knowledge, this is the second all-vegan Vietnamese locale in Melbourne, (the second being Fina’s 2) which suggests that there is a growing need for vegan Vietnamese food.      

Olivia Spring Cafe food vegan travel Vietnamese coffee

As you walk through the doors at Olivia Spring Café, the space is fresh, new and gorgeous, exuding the essence of a French-style coffee shop. Tables and chairs line the floor, looked over by colourfully painted murals along the walls. The space is flooded in natural light, as the espresso machine grinds and hums to the beat of this brand new establishment. A mezzanine level is one step up from the main floor, if you want to stretch out on the couch or take a Vietnamese meal traditionally – aside a large coffee table while sitting on cosy cushions on the floor. Today’s lunch is taken at a table with chairs and before there’s the opportunity to sit, our hospitable host is asking me what I’d like drink.

“Coffee?”

“Yes, please! A café latte with soy milk?”

He smiles, nods and hurries away to man the machine and churn out my order. Once I start perusing the menu, I can see the extent of the options for drinks – teas, coffees, even Vietnamese iced coffee (cà phê đá)! (An option to try for next time).

Melbourne Olivia Spring Cafe vegan food travel Vietnamese coffee

One lunchtime option I decide on quickly, after weighing up the many mouth-watering options, is Cơm tấm, or Broken Rice. This was one of my favourites back in the day and the only way to describe it is that it’s like a platter for one. There’s a perfectly rounded mound of broken rice to anchor the plate, which is then surrounded by a bit of everything. Broken rice stems from the grains that become cracked during the processing part of rice, and it seems to feature predominantly in Vietnamese cuisine.

There’s fresh tomato slices and cucumber resting on a bed of lettuce, and Vietnamese style pickled carrot and cauliflower. For a spicy twist, there’s a portion of kimchi – Korean pickled cabbage. To crown the dish in its tasty glory are wedges of tofu cake speckled by black sesame seeds and, the tastiest protein on the plate, lemongrass tofu – strips of tofu rolled and marinated in lemongrass before being seared until lightly crispy. To finish off the dish, a vessel of vinegar with shredded pickled carrot and slices of fresh chilli is placed at the centre of the plate so I can drip spoonfuls over the dish with as little or as much as I like. It adds a zing to the dish, but with all the flavours steaming in front of me already it’s best to drip the vinegar sparingly to create a well-balanced flavoursome lunch. If you want that extra zing, I suggest grabbing your chopsticks and collect the soaking carrot to crunch on; my favourite moment when feasting on Cơm tấm.              

Melbourne Olivia Spring Cafe vegan food travel Vietnamese coffee

The fastness of Cơm tấm is deceiving, and lunch turns into a substantial meal to sustain me for the rest of the day. Just as I thought I couldn’t eat any more, I am beckoned by some raw cakes in the cake cabinet; supplied to Olivia Spring Café by local cake-maker RawJoy.

It’s tricky to choose which one when options like decadent Chocolate Peanut Butter with a slightly salty biscuit base and Lime Cheesecake flavours are available. So, the only option is to choose one of each! Not only do you have the freedom to choose both here, it’s the freedom to experience two polarising flavours together without the flavours colliding and conflicting with each other during the same serving.

Olivia Spring Cafe Melbourne vegan food travel Viertnamese coffee

I think this is the essence of Vietnamese cuisine and why it’s so popular in Melbourne – drawing together such unique flavours that do work so well together, and work just as well in a vegan setting. The combination of flavours found in Cơm tấm at Olivia Spring Café is thrilling, while still staying true to traditional methods. It can be done, and is done so beautifully and scrumptiously.      

Travel to Olivia Spring Café and try their vegan Vietnamese menu for yourself. 637 Mt Alexander Road Moonee Ponds Victoria Australia 3039. Phone 03 9077 5560. Hours: 7.00am to 5.00pm Monday to Saturday (closed Sundays)