Travel

A Vegan Travels Back to Her Home City: Melbourne Photo Diary

Written by Jennifer Nini

It’s easier being vegan in the city.

In the country region where I live, veganism is such a foreign concept that I’ve actually been in awkward positions where I’ve had to explain to wait staff that veganism is not the same as vegetarianism. I’m not joking. It’s happened several times.

When I return to my home city of Melbourne, what I look forward to most – aside from seeing my family and close friends – is the food culture. It never disappoints. Even if a restaurant isn’t specifically vegan, many of them cater to plant-based foodies. In a hyper-competitive culinary scene such as Melbourne’s, it’s a brave restaurant that passes the opportunity to serve the conscious diner, a niche market for sure, but one that is seeing growth across the world, even in France.

Southbank Melbourne. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

A stroll down Southbank in Melbourne - Eco Warrior Princess

On my recent trip back to this cosmopolitan city, we stayed in apartments and hotels in walking distance to the main areas of Melbourne: Southbank, Federation Square and the CBD. I tried to find time to explore new cafes and eateries, boutique shops (you must pop in to the store of Melbourne-made ethical fashion brand Kuwaii, where I purchased a beautifully handcrafted Anna Varendorff large bar earrings) and vintage stores (Shag Melbourne, Vintage Sole and Retro Star) but with work deadlines and prioritising time with my fiance Ben, I didn’t plan a strict itinerary and preferred to let the days unfold naturally.

Australian ethical fashion brand Kuwaii Melbourne store. Photo- Eco Warrior Princess

Kuwaii Melbourne store.

Australian ethical fashion brand Kuwaii Melbourne store. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

Vintage Sole store in Melbourne. Photo- Eco Warrior Princess

Vintage Sole Melbourne store.

We travelled on foot, as I prefer to do when I’m in any city (it’s also the most sustainable mode of travel). It is always a delight to experience your home city from the perspective of a traveller. You see it differently. You appreciate it in ways you don’t get to when you’re working or living in it. Australia’s second largest city, Melbourne still has that laid back vibe. We found ourselves laying back at The Arbory a couple of times on this trip. It has a great cocktail menu and the service is delightful. Plus its located in a central location near Flinders Street station and has a gorgeous view as this bar and eatery is located along the Yarra River.

The Arbory bar & eatery in Melbourne. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

The Arbory.

Ben McGuire enjoying a beer at The Abory in Melbourne. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

Ben McGuire enjoying a beer at The Abory in Melbourne.

The other thing about Melbourne is that its appreciation of arts and culture can be felt. There’s the National Gallery of Victoria in easy walking distance from the city centre (the Dior couture exhibition just opened so I dragged Ben along to it). There’s talented musicians busking at Bourke Street Mall and on Swanston Street. And take a stroll through the inner city alleys and you’ll find graffiti art on many building walls. Street art is openly welcomed, and in fact, encouraged by the local government. Thank goodness for progressive thinking leaders.

National Gallery of Victoria. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

The House of Dior- Seventy Years of Haute Couture exhibition.

Eco Warrior Princess Editor in Chief Jennifer Nini at the NGV Dior Exhibition

Eco Warrior Princess editor-in-chief Jennifer Nini at the NGV.

Melbourne's laneways are famous for its street art. Photo- Eco Warrior Princess

Melbourne’s laneways filled with street art are iconic.

Melbourne's iconic laneways filled with street art. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

I try to capture the street art on my smart phone but sometimes I forget. I also forget to take pictures of the people and the scenery when meandering my way through city streets, dynamic laneways filled with tourists, and even empty parks. Thankfully my partner Ben takes out his camera in the hope of capturing a string of moments.

I will happily whip out my phone camera to capture food though. Go figure. I’m still rather hopeless at keeping a vegan food photo diary because the urge to take a pic of my vegan meal comes secondary to being present with Ben – but there are times when I’m compelled to take an Instagrammable food snap. Like the time I had breakfast at the Grain Store. And when I discovered the brilliant selection of plant-based dumplings at the Oriental Teahouse.

The Grain Store in Melbourne serves the best vegan brekkie. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

The Grain Store in Melbourne serves a delicious vegan brekkie.

Eating a vegan breakfast at the Grain Store in Melbourne. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

Vegan Dumplings at Oriental Teahouse in Melbourne CBD. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

Vegetable dumplings at Oriental Teahouse.

Vegan Food at Oriental Teahouse in Melbourne CBD. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

Vegan food at Oriental Teahouse.

Melbourne has so much to offer and it doesn’t surprise anyone – least of all Melburnians – that the city continues to win the award for being the world’s most liveable city year after year. I may be biased because I grew up there, but I really do believe it’s a magnificent city for its ability to bring so many people together harmoniously (4 million live in and around the city) while catering to such a wide variety of interests – food, sport, fashion, music and art.

All I can say is, Well done Melbourne, well done.

Our rented apartment had spectacular views of Melbourne. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

Our rented apartment had spectacular views of Melbourne.

Monocle magazine is a favourite travel companion. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

Monocle magazine is a favourite travel companion.

Pollon Flowers by Nicholas Minton-Connell in Melbourne. Credit- Eco Warrior Princess

Pollon Flowers by Nicholas Minton-Connell florist on Flinders Lane.

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About the author

Jennifer Nini

Jennifer Nini is a writer, activist and the founding editor of Eco Warrior Princess. In 2010, after studying Fashion Business, she launched Eco Warrior Princess to explore her interests in fashion, politics, social justice and sustainability. Jennifer is also the founder of The Social Copywriter, a digital agency harnessing the power of copywriting and content marketing to help mindful businesses reach more people. When she's not perfecting a sentence or coaching business clients, you will find her at her certified organic farm reconnecting with nature.

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