It’s a fact: we eat too much meat. Australians consume well over their body weight every year, about twice the recommended daily intake and three times more than the rest of the world. And, as much as we strongly advocate the wonders of barbecue here at the New Daily, you really do have to go easy on the beef.
By doing so, experts reckon you’ll not only reduce the amount of food waste, emissions and environmental degradation, but do yourself a solid with your health. Bowel cancer, diabetes, heart disease and obesity are all linked to eating too much meat.
Meanwhile, you’re hardly depriving yourself by going meat-free. We’ve assembled a few of our favourite vegetable dishes – and some of our favourite places to eat them. Oh, and don’t worry about Sam Kekovich either; he’s all talk.
Mela Indian Sweets and Eats
428 William Street, Northbridge, Western Australia 6000
It’s hardly a secret that there’s a whole lot more to Indian food than butter chicken. But, weirdly, South Indian cuisine is far less common than it deserves to be. One vegetarian gem is the Pani Puri, a tiny globe with a crunchy shell and spiced potato and chickpea centre, covered in tamarind chutney, cumin and fresh curds. If you’re in Perth, for instance, you can pick up a five-pack at the Mela Indian Sweets and Eats (for breakfast, no less).
Orange Spot Bakery
752 Anzac Hwy, Glenelg SA
+61 8 8295 5799
One of the greatest vegetarian pleasures of the classical road-trip is the pasty. Identifying the most promising-looking bakery in an unfamiliar town, evaluating the quality of the flaky pastry, the edifying surprise upon discovering what’s within. Choosing a favourite is an impossible task (particularly when there’s forever another bakery to try), but the Orange Spot Bakery in Glenelg has been named ‘Australia’s Best Pasty’ multiple times – a victory the Spot attributes to their top-quality spuds.
Shop 9, 417-421 Bourke Street, Surry Hills 9332 3633
Among things pizza does not need are tandoori chicken, crusts stuffed with yellow cheese, mayonnaise, pineapple – even meat . In fact, the best pizza needs very little indeed: the Margherita. Pizza Mario in Surry Hills makes its slice according to the rules of the Associazone Vera Pizza Napoletana, with a hand-made base cooked in a wood-fired oven; freshly-brewed tomato sauce, generous slabs of unbelievably clean buffalo mozzarella and a handful of basil leaves. Who needs meatlovers?
Wine and Cheese
Milk the Cow
1/157 Fitzroy Street, St Kilda VIC 3182
03 9537 2225
We might be cheating slightly, but there’ve been plenty of occasions when a glass of chardonnay and a hunk of cheese constitute a perfectly legit meal. And, while vegans might disagree about the ethics of dairy, there’s no denying its pleasures. Milk the Cow in St. Kilda happens to specialise in those, with genuine cheese sommeliers recommending the perfect fromage from the caves of Roquefort to go with your Heathcote Nebilliolo. Incidentally, beer and whisky both go well with cheese, and are vegetarian too.
Labanne, Tomato, Pita and Za’atar
53a Erskineville Rd, Erskineville NSW 2043
(02) 9550 5511
Not yet a cheese yet not quite a yoghurt, Labanne is, nevertheless, one of the Middle East’s genuine dairy miracles. Made from cultured milk strained in a cloth bag, and often dusted with herbs, Labanne is creamy, delicate and delicious. You can make it yourself without any fuss at all, but Cafe Shenkin in Erskineville really is much better at it. Plus they serve it with fresh tomato, pita straight from the oven and a sprinkling of za’atar.
323 Victoria St, Abbotsford VIC 3067
0478 768 760
Served in a scorchingly-hot stone bowl, and slathered with chilli, bibimbap is the go-to-dish on any Korean menu. Essentially a self-frying rice, Seoul Soul on Victoria Street in Richmond deploys a fried egg, crisp cucumber and the Korean red pepper sauce, Gochujang. Who needs beef?
15 Cracknell Rd, Annerley,
(07) 3255 977
Vegetarians don’t need to stare longingly into the bain-marie every time they pass a Vietnamese bakery – the legendary Banh Mi comes in a perfectly delicious porkless version. Brisbane’s Cafe O’Mai serves up a classic crunchy baguette with tofu marinated in soy and lemongrass and garnished with pickled carrot and radish, coriander and a sprinkling of fresh chilli.
27 Logan Rd, Greenslopes, (07) 3324 2917
Vegetarian or Meatosaurus, American, Mexican or Korean – we all speak the universal language of Tacos. Shady Pines, a Pan-American cafe in Brisbane is putting together some inspired variations on these flavour-envelopes, with a marinated okra, chimmichurri, ranch dressing blackbean and corn salsa taco.
Mezethes Greek Taverna
Salamanca Square, Hobart 7000.
Spanakopita, a simple Greek dish from the burek family of pastries (which, of course, are found through Greece and up into Turkey) uses freshly-cut Spinach, good quality goat- or sheep-milk cheese, pine nuts and crunchy filo pastry. Tasmanians get their spana from Mezethes Greek Taverna overlooking the Derwent on Salamanca Square, which is about as good a spot outside of Greece as could be imagined.
Slow Roast Red Cabbage With Prune, Parmesan and Red Apple
312 Drummond Street, Carlton
03 9347 3312
Kiwi import Town Mouse has been turning heads in Melbourne for the past few months, and one of its most talked-about dishes is, surprise surprise, strictly vegetarian. The slow roast red cabbage with prune, parmesan and red apple is almost one of those savoury-but-sweet-and-smokey dishes that’s exceedingly welcome now winter is coming.