Vegan beer and burgers are sprouting up everywhere — even at Sydney locals

23 March 2017

INa trend that will have old-school patrons snorting into their schooners, vegan food has infiltrated the local pub. You can still have your schnitty or burger, but it will be made from mock meat and plant-based patties.

The Red Lion pub in Rozelle, opened wholly vegan restaurant The Green Lion late last year, and last week Woolloomooloo’s The East Sydney Hotel introduced a mostly vegan menu.

Chef Sini Kiialaianen, who rents the bistro at the old-school Woollomooloo boozer, says she changed the menu to fill a niche.

“I used to be vegetarian, then I went vegan and realised there aren’t many options to eat out and socialise in Sydney,” she says. “I wanted to have a place for myself.”

Kiialaianen slowly introduced vegan dishes to the pub menu over a few months and found there was a demand, even from carnivores.

“People want to try different things,” she says. “I want to show them that vegan food is not necessarily healthy and boring, we do a lot of deep-fried mac and cheese, nachos and vegan hot dogs.”

The East Sydney Hotel offers 18 vegan dishes alongside six meat-based options including lamb curry and steak sandwiches.

“We have quite a steady customer base, locals who have been coming here for years and years and they expect certain dishes,” Kiialaianen says. “If it was up to me I would have gotten rid of every animal product but I want to try and see if we can run it this way.”

Kiialaianen has also curated a vegan friendly wine and beer drinks list.

Traditional alcohol is not suitable for vegans because while made from grain or fruit, it is often clarified using milk, egg whites or isinglass, a kind of gelatine derived from fish bladders.

One of the vegan drops on tap comes from Mona Vale craft brewery Modus Operandi. It doesn’t filter its beer, as filtering can dilute the flavour, so it doesn’t contain animal products by default.

“All our beers are vegan,” Modus’ co-owner Jaz Wearin says. “It’s common for craft beer to be vegan friendly due to the ingredients; it’s just hops, malt, water and yeast.”

Lowe Wines has also embraced the trend. The Mudgee winery started producing vegan wines four years ago because of demand. Of its 14 wines, four are vegan; a pinot gris, preservative free shiraz, riesling and cabernet sauvignon.

Winemaker David Lowe says they had to change its grape-growing practises for a vegan certification.

“We hand-pick the fruit because machine picking increases levels of phenolics that increases the fruit’s bitterness, which requires intervention,” Lowe says.

“Phenolics, which leave a bitter taste in wine, are negatively charged so you need positively charged proteins to remove them,” he explains. “That’s why milk and fish products are traditionally used to clarify wines. By adding them to wine in small quantities it removes those bitter phenolics and makes it easier to consume.”

Winemaker David Lowe supplies its vegan varieties to Sydney restaurants Yulli’s, No 1 Bent St, Flour Eggs Water, Meat and Co, and sells them at the cellar door.


The Green Lion, Rozelle
Downstairs The Red Lion is your traditional Aussie pub, upstairs has a vegan only menu.

Yulli’s, Surry Hills
Known for its vegetarian food, it has a strong vegan offering, including vegan wines.

Cafe Sydney, Circular Quay
A separate vegan menu, with entrees, mains and dessert, is available.

Gigi Pizzeria, Newtown
Accredited by the Associazone Verace Pizza Napoletana, it went vegan in 2015.

Otto, Woolloomooloo
A full vegan tasting menu and vegan matched wines are available.

Yellow, Potts Point
A complete vegan tasting menu, plus a number of the dishes on the main menu are vegan.

China Lane, Sydney
Approximately 40 per cent of the menu is vegan, with additional dishes that can be made vegan.

Bodhi, Sydney
Vegan yum cha dishes at lunch and a pan-Asian dinner menu with mock meat.

Gelato Blue, Newtown
Coconut milk replaces cow’s milk at this all-vegan dessert stop.

Bliss and Chips, Newtown
A vegan fish and chip shop, all your deep fried favourites made of mock seafood.

Soul Burger, Randwick and Glebe
Plant-based beef burger patties and coconut shakes.

Funky Pies, Newtown
The flaky pastry and rich gravy means you won’t even miss the non-meat filling.

Nourishing Quarter, Redfern
An ethical take on favourites, including pho with protein tofu strips.

The Dandylion, Bondi
A contemporary vegetarian and vegan menu.

Cafe Perons, Double Bay
The majority of the breakfast and lunch offerings are vegan, with 12 daily options.

Harry’s, Bondi
Of the 19 items on the menu, seven are vegan.

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