Vegans dining out in Melbourne were once faced with extremely limited choice, but things have changed. Anne Brunsdon and Tim Slingsby, co-founders of Melbourne Vegan Eats, wanted to bring together some of their favourite venues and create a brew and food festival in Brunswick, meant for all to enjoy. The first one happens on Saturday 5 November.
Anne is my friend, so you need to know that, but this story came about from a healthy respect for what the pair are doing. It’s something they only ever talked about over drinks, until now.
The Brew & Food Fest is a free and licensed street festival featuring vegan food and drinks from some of Melbourne’s best restaurants, pubs, cafes and breweries including The Cornish Arms, Lord of the Fries, Doughnut Time, The Glass Den, Ray’s Cafe, Remedy Kombucha, Halfpint Vegan Dairy, Brown Brothers, Stone and Wood Brewing Co, Golden Axe Cider and heaps of others. The Garb Wire caught up with Anne and Tim to find out more.
TGW: What inspired you and Tim to start your own Brew & Food Fest?
AB: We both love eating and travelling and we’re very inspired by what we’ve eaten all over the world. We wanted to put together a fest to combine the fresh and creative things people are doing with vegan food and booze, and create a really fun event where everyone can have a great time.
‘Most of our lineup are making their festival debut. There are some really great vegan events happening in Melbourne, but we set out to bring together people’s favourite places that wouldn’t normally street trade, and put them in one place.’
TGW: What will you both bring to the event?
MVE: Tim has extensive event management and beer industry experience, Anne has social media experience and we both have great eating and drinking skills. This is a big party of our favourite things!
“We both have great eating and drinking skills.”
TGW: How is vegan dining out in Melbourne different now from say, ten years ago?
AB: So much easier. I went vegan in 1999, while still living in a small country town after growing up on a dairy farm. Times were tough for vegans back then. When I moved to Melbourne in 2001 it was so much easier, but definitely in the last decade, even the last two years, it has become ridiculously easy to eat out in Melbourne as a vegan.
TS: Availability of vegan food in Melbourne has progressed massively in the last ten years! It seems like the general public are becoming more educated about the benefits of veganism – more restaurants, bars and cafes are offering more and more vegan options, as well as making their labelling and advertising of vegan food clearer, which is a great help when dining out.
“With social media, people can discuss where to eat and what places make great dishes, which really helps spread the vegan love, for those making it and for those wanting to try it.” – Tim
TGW: Tell us about some of the vendors – what special dishes are you looking forward to trying?
MVE: We’ve personally tried the vegan goods of every vendor, that’s why we asked them to come on board. There has been such a great response to the event. Even if venues couldn’t come on board, they were very excited about it. We’re particularly excited about the special creations that will be available just for the day. They will remain a secret until the festival, so people will have to come down and see what surprises there are in store!
TGW: You mentioned that MVEBFF is an inclusive event. Inclusive of non vegans, in particular. Why was that important to you?
MVE: We’re not here to push an agenda, we’re staging a great event where the food and drinks happen to be vegan. We want the food and drink to do the talking to show people how great plant based products can be.
TGW: What is your absolute favourite dish to prepare yourself at home?
AB: For me, this question is like who is your most favourite band ever? or what’s your favourite song? It’s so hard to just have one. I go through phases of what I love to make at home. Lately it’s been basil pesto fettuccine, sometimes it’s mac and cheese, pavlova or cheesecake. I just love creating (and eating!). Click here to get Anne’s pavlova nest recipe.
TS: I totally agree with Anne, I go through phases. I’ll generally be really into a certain cuisine and work on different dishes within that cuisine, or if I made a meal one night and wasn’t totally happy with the way I had done a particular dish, I would work that dish to really get it right, and then it becomes my temporary favourite. I generally love to make Mexican or middle eastern meals where I can make a spread and share it with my housemates while we catch up and chat about the food and about life.
TGW: Where on earth is your favourite Vegan food served?
MVE: Melbourne! We are so lucky to be one of the vegan capitals of the world. But aside from Melbourne, we love eating in NYC, Montreal, Toronto, Vancouver, Portland, San Francisco and LA.
TGW: Anne, you’ve travelled to the United States a fair bit. What are the biggest differences between what’s available there vs here. Is it getting better here?
AB: Melbourne really is on par with what’s available in the US now. If you want to go out for raw vegan in Melbourne, you can. Likewise, vegan junk food is very accessible in Melbourne. Maybe five years ago the answer would have been a little different.
“We’re really excited to do a festival that’s for people to explore and enjoy a lot of amazing food and drinks, not to send a message or attempt to educate people. We felt a festival like this was really lacking in Melbourne. Since no one was doing it, we decided to do it ourselves.”
“Everyone is welcome to try some of Melbourne’s finest vegan food and drinks. The Brew & Food Fest is an inclusive event and a fun day for everyone.”
Need to know:
- Date: Saturday 5 November 2016
- Time: 11am to 6pm
- Location: Michael Street, Brunswick
- Cost: Free Entry
- Licensed: Yes
- Family Friendly
Pictured at top: Anne Brunsdon and Tim Slingsby by Jen Staig.
Click here to get Anne’s recipe for Vegan Pavlova Nests