For quite a while, I wanted to write a post about eating a plant-based or vegan diet. I wanted to write about the challenges and limitations, but I found this standpoint discouraged the conversation and left me in a defensive position. Why did I have to justify my food choices? So instead, I decided to celebrate what we have, to share it with more people and close the gap between the lentil burgers and the steaks at the BBQ. And it actually changed my food experience in Brisbane.
While it seems Queensland gets a lot of stick from our southern friends, we aren’t doing nearly as bad as they say. We aren’t doing badly at all. Even my mother-in-law couldn’t fault the quality of food in Brisbane. Visiting us from Italy, I took this as quite the compliment. Between the plant-based restaurants and the fresh produce markets, we have a lot to celebrate in Brisbane.
So, I put together a quick list of my go-to spots for plant-based eats. I’d love to hear about your favourite for me to try out. Drop me a message if you think there’s a great place that should be added to the list.
Where to Eat Plant-Based Around Brisbane
I’ve been to Elixiba at the Sunshine Coast quite a few times now (and have considered moving to Maroochydore just so I can eat there more often). It’s the place I tell my vegan friends to take their meat-eating friends because that coco-mari and the pulled jackfruit burger is just so good, you don’t care you’re not eating meat. Oh, and make sure you treat yourself to the Happiness Elixir or the Turmeric Tonic. They do not disappoint.
Personally, I love the alchemy behind the food and bar menu at Elixiba and I love that every single person that works there is genuine, friendly and knows the food so well. You can find Elixiba at the Sunny Coast, Gold Coast and Byron Bay.
Another one at the Sunshine Coast, (I told you I should just move there), found by accident when searching for lunch after a whale watching excursion. Tucked in the corner of some shops you’ll find Cafe Nurcha. The menu offers everything and even when you’ve ordered yours, you’re thinking about what you would like to order next time. Personal favourites include the nachos, smoothie bowls and the paninis.
Be sure to enjoy the shopping experience here too. The adjoining shop offers health foods, pantry items, eco-friendly household items, books, homewares and more. Together with Coastal Wellbeing, you’ll find offerings of naturopath and massage therapies at Cafe Nurcha.
Vege Rama, West End
I found Vege Rama early in 2017 when I needed low FODMAP options while exploring the West End. And I found a mecca for low FODMAP plant-based eats. With so many vegan options too. It would continue to be one of our go-to places not just because the food tastes great and we’re spoiled for choice on the menu. We would keep going here for the liveliness, the buzz and the ever friendly staff. It’s the whole package.
You can also find Vege Rama around the city. Keep up with happenings via the Vege Rama Facebook page.
In the same neighbourhood, lively and upbeat, we found Vegeme. It was an accidental find actually and we nearly didn’t dine here the first time. But now that we have, we love to come back for the fresh ingredients and flavourful foods. We might also come back just for that dish that a meat eater could easily mistake for actual KFC.
Charlie’s Raw Squeeze / Moo Free Burgers
I’ve been to quite a few of these Charlie’s Raw Squeeze cafes around the city. I’ve also tried the Moo Free Burgers at the North Lakes Raw Squeeze location and the mobile burger van that gets around. But my favourite place to hit up is Charlie’s is at the fruit market in Everton Park. Here you can do a fresh grocery shop, grab a smoothie, sit down and chill out. I’ve also loved finding Charlie’s Raw Squeeze at Lorna Jane. It was my ‘go-to’ lunch stop on a Friday, to grab the $7.00 felafel wrap (great value for money).
I’ve got to say though, the Moo Free Burgers side of things isn’t my favourite. I love that it is an option though, I just don’t think there’s enough competition in the vegan burger game to make any stand out. That just my honest opinion.
If you’ve stopped at or driven by the fruit market at Everton Park, you might have noticed Veganyumm’s dessert bakehouse. Now, I’ve only stopped here a couple of times but it’s on my list because each time I’ve been here, it’s been too good to resist. All of the classic baked treats like lamingtons and doughnuts. But no eggs, butter, milk or cream – not that you’d notice.
It’s a wonder I’ve made it this far without mentioning the Brisbane Vegan Markets event. Who knew there was so much, right? This is Brisbane’s original monthly vegan market meeting place bringing together food vendors, community and charity in the West End. It gets pretty busy! But locals are pretty happy to share tables and it’s great to spark up a conversation with people around you. The Brisbane Vegan Markets have definitely established a thriving community in one of the liveliest parts of the city.
This list is by no means a true cross-section of the plant-based options around Brisbane, they are just a sample from my own experience. And I would LOVE to know what your favourites are – so drop me an email or comment below.
Some other plant-based bits worth noting…
Although Queenslanders are least likely to choose a vegetarian diet, there is still an increase in the overall Australian population. In March 2016, 11.2% of the Aussie population agreed that they eat all or mostly vegetarian food. The Queensland population of vegetarians increased to 9.2%. Read more about this research here. Meanwhile, another study from Euromonitor International has pointed out that Australia is the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world.
In 2016, Google reported a 90% increase in vegan searches. But looking more deeply at the data available from Google Trends, Australians peaked their search for ‘vegan’ in July 2017 (I wonder if Christmas in July recipe searches had anything to do with it). And just in case you were wondering, the Gold Coast and the Sunshine Coast score top points for searching veganism the most.
And, last but not least, Belgium proposed this new Food Pyramid to encourage people to eat more plants and less meat. What do you think?