The vegan dining scene has really exploded in Melbourne over the last few years. Long gone are the days of soggy mushroom burgers and sad-looking salads—these joints are serving up some seriously delicious eats. Plus they're all healthy, fresh and easily just as delicious as a cheese-covered steak (that's our story, and we're sticking to it).
So whether you’re a true blue vegan or a veg-inner, here’s a rundown of Melbourne's best vegan restaurants.
Vegans, vegetarians and carnivores alike will be flocking like sparrows into Red Sparrow. Melbourne’s first dedicated vegan pizzeria, Red Sparrow has a completely plant-based menu, with dairy-free cheese substitutes (you won’t miss the dairy) and mock meats including beer-infused bratwurst. Gluten, soy and nut-sensitive foodies will also be catered for. Red Sparrow is now open for business.
Green Man's Arms
Green Man's Arms' charming (and very green) interior decor offers a cosy respite from the hustle and bustle of the regular Lygon street Italian fare. It really feels like you’re just chatting away in someone’s fancy, sparkling living room. With a fresh, ever-changing menu, this joint truly embodies comfort food goals—so grab a pint and a vegan bolognese or tuck into a nice, juicy eggplant schnitzel.
Our favourite trippy team has set up shop on the other side of the river. Serving an all-vegetarian menu, every dish comes with a vegan-friendly option. Think scrambled tofu and soy cheese brekkie burritos, vegan tacos and fluffy, cheesy vegan quesadillas. Drool.
The Vegan Shack
With plenty of breakfast, lunch, snack and dessert options, The Vegan Shack is your number one guilt-free food destination in Richmond. Plus its interior is a colourful sight for sore eyes: no Scandi-inspired minimalist decor here. Just a lot of fun colours and decorations that are sure to put you in a good mood.
Specialising in raw, organic eats, Shoku Iku’s menu also doubles as vegan. Banana pancakes are served with fresh fruit, raw and activated Nutella with a plant-based cream of the day. For lunch, noodles are made from kelp and vegetables are served with a coconut dragon sauce and teriyaki sprinkle.
Smith & Deli
Not your old-school corner deli, Smith & Daughter’s second café lives up to its veggie-filled reputation. Smith & Deli’s menu is home to creative names like the Parmageddon (vegan chicken parma with Napoli sauce, pesto, vegan mozzarella) and The Eggs-orcist (vegan egg salad with shredded iceberg). The sandwich names alone warrant a visit.
Smith & Daughters
A reigning vegan dining institution in Melbourne, Smith & Daughters hardly needs an introduction. For vegan beginners, this is the heavenly place to start, with Spanish and Mexican-influenced dishes including Paella Fritters, tacos and creamy dips.
Forget one-choice menus—all entrees, mains and desserts are vegan at Shakahari. Expect dishes like the Laksa Hebat with organic Japanese udon noodles, mixed vegetables and fried tempeh and tofu in a mildly spiced coconut stock. Mouth watering yet?
Have you even been to Fitzroy if you haven’t been to Vegie Bar? The answer is no, no you haven’t. Smack bang on Brunswick Street, they serve all the veggie meals, including veggie packed noodle dishes, warm buddah bowls and pizza (which even includes vegan cheese). And don’t walk past their sister store Girls & Boys next door, which serves vegan ice cream and sweet treats.
Vegie Bar’s older, more experimental, more popular sister (but don’t tell her that), Transformer is home to an all-vegetarian menu which champions humble ingredients like roast cauliflower and grilled king oyster mushrooms. A large portion of the menu is also vegan-friendly or can be made vegan on request—just look out for the cheeky “V” or “VO”.
Yong Green Food
Focused on locally sourced, organic ingredients, Yong Green Food is a winner for foodies with particular dietary requirements. Raw, vegan, organic and gluten-free options abound, with Hawaiian Live Pizza and Kelp Pad Thai.
Sister Of Soul
St Kilda & Richmond
Sister of Soul boasts raw, gluten-free, vegetarian and vegan meals that mark it out as one of the best vegetarian cafes in Melbourne—north or south of the river. The menu is full of familiar favourites and delicious surprises, and it's open pretty much all the time, from 7:30 am until late.
The Carringbush Hotel
Boasting a classic pub vibe with a strong focus on sustainability, The Carringbush Hotel’s meat-free menu is vegan and vegetarian. All wine is on tap, there’s no packaged beer, it’s stocked with eco-friendly reusable metal straws and ethical plates, it’s decked with environmentally friendly lighting and heating...we could go on.
Lentil As Anything
Abbotsford, St Kilda & Thornbury
If you’re after a feel-good feed, don’t go past Lentil As Anything on Heliers Street in Abbotsford. Part of the Abbotsford Convent complex, this leave-your-pretentions-at-the-door set up speaks to the heartstrings. The vegetarian and vegan fare is mighty decent, and the kitchen is run by staff and volunteers after a free feed. You pay what you can, and what you think it’s worth.
Looking to eat out less? Here are Melbourne's best vegetarian supermarkets.
Image credit: Annika Kafcaloudis