The “veganising” of the CBD

By Melissa Chung

The heart of the city is joining the vegan flight but is still trailing many Northside locations.

According to Euromonitor International, Australia is projected to be the third-fastest-growing vegan market between 2015 and 2020 with 9.6 per cent growth – after China (17.2 per cent) and United Arab Emirates (10.6 per cent).

Being the heart of the second largest city in Australia, the CBD is joining the flight by providing a range of creative vegan food choices, for example, vegan pizza, vegan burgers, vegan ramen, vegan cookies and vegan ice cream – anything that you can think of.

“Melburnians are waking up to a more compassionate way of living. Some non-vegan restaurants and cafes in the CBD have begun to offer a variety of tasty vegan options in their menu,” said Lefki Pavlidis, admin and supporter development officer of Animal Liberation.

“The CBD is good in the sense that it can cater for vegan needs if requested,” said Natalie Jo, Monash University veganist.

On top of that, Animal Activist Collective volunteer Trevor Weeden said a lot of animal rights activism and vegan outreach events had been taken place in the CBD over the last two years, particularly in areas such as Bourke St, State Library and Flinders St/Federation Square.

Dilan Dernando, co-director of Young Voices for Animals, said: “The CBD has been a great place for grassroots activism, which encouraged people to get involved in vegan advocacy. For example, Australia’s biggest animal rights event was held in the CBD in March.”

However, when compared with Fitzroy, where the Australia’s largest vegan store has opened in, the CBD still has a long way to catch up.

“The CBD in particular is a little weak as far as options go, particularly compared to northern suburbs,” said Xavier Shay, founder of the Vegan Melbourne website.

“The unreasonable pricing of vegan dishes in restaurants and the extra charge for almond and soy milk in cafes is hindering CBD from veganism,” said Jasmine Lipski, a Monash University veganist.

“Also, the horse carriages definitely do not promote vegan culture in the CBD,” she said.

Nonetheless, it is predicted that the CBD will catch up to Fitzroy soon, given its constantly increasing number of vegan restaurants and hard work of vegan advocates – they talk to local residents every week on the street to explain and promote vegan-living.

“Historically the CBD hasn’t been great for encouraging veganism, but it has been getting better over the last year with an increasing abundance of plant-based options, general vegan goods stores and community groups to support new vegans,” Mr Dernando said.

“Less than 5 per cent of the CBD is vegan. We have a long way to go in the fight, but change is happening!” Mr Weeden said.

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