The end of the year is always the best time of year for me: World Vegan Day, vegan festivals, beautiful weather in Brisbane and my birthday in December! I know that even if everything has felt as thought it's been stalling for most of the year, after the end of October, it'll be great!
Incase you're not aware, World Vegan Day is celebrated on the 1st of November every year. Melbourne holds a great WVD festival to celebrate this fantastic day in Australia and here begins the story of my Melbourne adventures for the end of 2010:
Saturday 30th October
I flew on the very early flight to Melbourne, leaving Brisbane at 5:00. Due to the fact that just about everywhere other than Queensland has daylight savings I would lose an hour travelling interstate - but I would gain an hour coming home. I am always impressed by the vegan food I get on Qantas planes. For breakfast I had Sanitarium Skippy Cornflakes with soy milk, an apple and a Nanaberry from Rowie's Cakes in Marrickville, New South Wales. The main ingredient is Organic QUINOA flour! I slept most of the flight except when eating, which always means it's a good flight.
I arrived at Melbourne airport at 08:30 to be picked up by one of my closest friends, Maree who I used to work with at JB Hi-Fi. We headed to Parkville to catch up with another friend from JB, Brooke and her girlfriend, Tron. The gals are not vegan so we went to the Empire Strikes Back cafe in Brunswick who have a vegan menu. I had sourdough toast with avocado AU$6 plus AU$3 for baby spinach:
We hung out for awhile at the cafe and walked around for a bit. Got to meet the wonderful Anikee who runs Radical Grocery, a one-stop vegan, organic and fair trade shop similar to Food Fight in Portland and Side Car in Seattle. Anikee is excited about her new much bigger store coming next year! The ladies and I went back to Brooke's place to listen to Mazzy Star and Fleetwood Mac on vinyl, lovely. We waited until (another one of my favourite people and closest friends) Jess called to say she'd arrived. Jess runs the great online Cruelty Free Shop in Sydney which has been running for over 7 years now! Maree and I went to the airport to pick up Jess, her son, Robbie and her friend and shop assistant, Steph. The weather had been okay until pretty much exactly when Jess had landed, now it was pouring! As we were driving to our apartment in Brunswick, we were going past flooded areas right in the middle of the city and it had only been raining for about an hour:
After we dropped all our gear off at the apartment, we decided to go to Yong Green in Fitzroy for lunch, which is probably my favourite food place in Melbourne. Sasha took me here for dinner in January and I loved the place! They have a larger menu now and a lot of raw food. I had a chickpea wrap AU$9.50 consisting of chickpea korma in pita bread with beetroot walnut dip and spinach:
Robbie had the lentil wrap, also AU$9.50:
Jess had the raw nachos AU$13.50: (no raw nachos can compare to the ones at Blossoming Lotus, Portland)
Steph had the raw lasagne AU$14.95
For dessert Jess and Robbie shared a piece of the Raw Chocolate Cheesecake AU$13.50:
and I hada piece of the raw green tea Ganache AU$3 - YUM!
After lunch, Jess and Steph wanted to check out Anikee's store and as I'd already seen Radical Grocery Robbie and I went back to the apartment for a little bit of sleep. For dinner we met up with Anikee, Angie from Funky Pies, my good friend Sasha, Shatha from Barristers Animal Welfare Panel, Lee & Sue Coates from Cruelty Free Super, Drew and his friend Mika. Dinner was at the East Brunswick Club where they serve a large menu of vegan pub food such as Chicken Parmagiana, "fish" and chips, burgers, burritos, nachos, chicken salads etc. Not my type of food at all, but I was outvoted... I had the Nachos which were under AU$15, sorry, no photos as we were out the back near the smokers ;( in the dark and cold. It took almost an hour for everyone to be served, don't know why everyone gets excited about this place, I wasn't impressed. Early to bed tonight.
Sunday 31st October
The next day Jess, Steph and Robbie left early, but I got to have a sleep in and put the finishing touches on my Promoting Veganism Online speech that I had given as part of the Vegan Existence (V.EX) talks at the beginning of October. One of the volunteer photographers from my Green Earth Festival (who has become a friend), Sundara picked me up just before 10am and we headed to World Vegan Day. World Vegan Day is Melbourne (and possibly Australia's) biggest vegan event and a mass of people come along, even if it's raining, which it was. I quickly went around to say hi to everyone I knew, had a great juice and fried rice from the Supreme Master stalls. I can't stand Melbourne weather. I pretty much have every layer that I brought with me on and it's still raining and cold, though not as bad as it could have been...
My talk on Promoting Veganism Online was meant to start at 12 midday. I arrived about 11:40 to see how everything was going, was informed that they were running 10 minutes late so came back at 12. The person before me kept talking, and talking... A few people who were there to see me speak were getting annoyed and there was a few altercations from a couple of people in the crowd before the talk was finished at 12:30. My talk went well, I had some good questions and will put up the video soon. I believe it's not just enough to be vegan (like it's not just enough to have a product or a website) you have to PROMOTE it as well.
Then Leanne and Fur from Today's Real Women interviewed me for Channel 31 which was fun and then I decided that I would try vegan speed dating and see what the fuss was all about. I have quite a few people (both guys and gals) who want me to have vegan speed dating at Green Earth Day in 2011 so I thought, if nothing else I would do some research and find out how speed dating works. Not my sort of thing at all but I try to do things I haven't done before especially if it's way out of my comfort zone ;) So you're meant to write down each name of the person in front of you and then whether you like them as a friend, like them in a romantic way (how would you know after 5 minutes?!) or don't like them at all. You hand all this information in after the speed dating is complete and then if someone thinks of you in the same way you think of them you get matched up. Anyway, it wasn't really explained in the beginning that well, I didn't read the paperwork properly and I'm not much of a follower of rules... So I just gave my business card to the people I thought were good people who I could see no problem in emailing or being FaceBook friends with and wrote down a few email addresses and websites to check out later. Mostly it was good fun, I'll pretty much talk to anyone, sometimes it was a bit awkward, and I can't work out why people who are not vegan (or at the very least vegetarian) would be part of vegan speed dating at World Vegan Day?! An hour and a half later (!!) speed dating was over, it was a bit too intense in the end with 30 couples.
After that long event, Sundara and I found some food: I had some vegetable fritter-like meal with slivered ginger and shredded seaweed. Sundara had a plate of satay vegetables, both were great, can't remember what food stall it was from... Later on I had to try the cupcakes from the new Mister Nice Guy range: one of the lime and coconut flavours and a chocolate option as well. World Vegan Day was great as I got to catch up with a lot of my favourite people, some FaceBook friends and met a lot of new people. Drew drove us back to the apartments so we could get ready to go out to dinner at Vegie Bar in Fitzroy where Jess and I had dinner with Drew and Mika, Anikee and Raquel, Jodie from Our Place on Earth, Angie and Ward Young from Horse Racing Kills who I'd met last weekend at the Animal Activist forum down at Tallebugera where I'd spoken about Staging Effective Events (video to come.) Ward and his comrades have been very busy due to the Spring Racing Carnival that is held in Melbourne for about a month, comprised of the Melbourne Cup day and other money-making, animal cruelty events. You don't need an excuse to dress up, take it from ME! just don't get swept up in the glitz and glamour of the horse racing industry.
I always like Vegie Bar, the vibe is great, fast and friendly service and you can bring non-veg people here and they will love the meals as well. I know it's boring, but I always have the same meal, Mostly Greens AU$14.50:
Ward had the Rice balls for an entree AU$5.50 and the Vegie Roast AU$14.90
Angie had the Vermicelli AU$13.50:
and Jess had the Vegan Supreme Pizza AU$11.50:
Great night at Vegie Bar with old and new friends!
Monday 1st November
After we checked out of our apartment, Jess, Steph, Robbie and I headed to Soul Food Cafe in Brunswick where we met Sundara for breakfast. Sundara had the Monster Vegan Breakfast with tofu, hash browns, mushrooms, spinach, tomato, relish and multigrain sourdough toast. All that for AU$15.80:
I had the Scrambled Tofu with onion and mulitgrain sourdough toast AU$10.50 with avocado for an extra AU$3
Jess had the same without avocado, Rob had a hash brown and Steph had the chili, coriander and lemon version. Here's a great pic of Jess and I - I LOVE this lovely lady!
Then we headed to Prahan to get some takeaway from a great vegan-friendly bakery, La Panella, who have a huge variety of vegan pastries including donuts, pies, croissants, finger buns, applie slice as well as sausage rolls and pies. Not my type of foods normally but I really enjoy their sausage rolls and croissants. The place is always busy and the prices are really cheap. If you like this sort of food, you will have to stock up. Here's a picture of Sundara's goodies that he bought:
Afterwards, Sundara and I dropped Jess, Steph and Robbie off at the airport and headed into Melbourne city to head to one of my favourite places in Melbourne: Habib Wholefoods which is to the right of Lord of the Fries opposite Flinders station. I got a few things to takeaway for later including a curry wrap, muffin and a raw brownie. See below for the great range of food the have:
All the salads were vegan, the cakes were mostly vegan and raw and I love their muffins. Sundara and I then hung out at his hotel for awhile where I had a bit of a snooze until Maree picked me up to stay at her place for a night, before heading back home on Tuesday.
Melbourne food as always is great, Melbourne weather I cannot say the same thing...
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