Melbourne’s food culture is vibrant with so many foods and cuisines catering to people of all kinds. But for newcomers to the city, knowing where to eat for those following certain dietary requirements can be tough to navigate.
Fazlina is Muslim and follows a strictly halal diet. She refrains from consuming pork and pork-derived products. Meanwhile, Gabriela is a vegan and she chooses not to consume animal products. Harris on the other hand is happy to try anything, but the trouble for us as friends is finding a suitable place where we can all share a meal together.
In an attempt to see learn more about the availability of restaurants catering to our dietary preferences, we reviewed restaurants: one halal, one vegan, and one that can pretty much fit both diets and no diet at all.
The Muslim diet is not as complicated as people usually think. Fazlina actually finds that it is quite easy to find Muslim-friendly restaurants in the Melbourne CBD and its surrounding areas, even in the suburbs.
For the sake of her own convenience though, Fazlina enjoys Laksa Bar which is just a few steps away from Melbourne Central.
This restaurant’s menu is filled with different options for foods and drinks, therefore making it a good option if you or your company aren’t feeling too picky. Service is prompt with food arriving within minutes of the order. Laksa Bar also offers very affordable food. Dining out on a student budget is difficult but thankfully Laksa Bar makes it a lot easier.
Finally, the staff is generally quite friendly and if you have a Malaysian of Melbourne University (MOMU) card, you can get a free drink from the menu!
There are many common misconceptions about the vegan diet. Even though it goes further than the vegetarian diet (vegans do not consume any animal products, including dairy, eggs, gelatin and, sometimes, honey) the vegan diet, contrary to popular belief, is still plentiful.
Gabriela’s choice vegan eatery is the Mantra Lounge, conveniently located for those attending University of Melbourne or living around the Parkville campus.
Nested on Grattan St, this place is very affordable — you can get your choice of rice, vegan curry and salad for less than $10 here! However, be wary that their curry is not exactly spicy, so, if you want, splurge on the free vegan chilli sauce! Moreover, their take away packaging is eco-friendly and keeps your food hot or cold for a good period of time.
Mantra Lounge is an affordable, convenient and yummy place to have lunch with your vegan and non-vegan friends or to simply grab a snack in-between classes!
Being able to accommodate friends with special dietary needs does not necessarily mean needing to go to niche restaurants, or going out of your way to some far away suburb, or not being able to satisfy your cheeseburger craving. The problem arises not in finding a place that caters to those dietary restrictions, but finding somewhere convenient for everyone.
Lord of the Fries hits all of these requirements. It is vegetarian/vegan, does not involve meat (meaning Muslims can eat everything on the menu) and it is a fast food chain with locations in most major areas.
The food is affordable in terms of Melbourne food prices, and is comparable to similar fast food chains. Important to note is that while it is a meat-free restaurant, there are meat style food items which means even meat eaters won’t feel out of place when figuring out what to get; you’d still be able to get your hamburgers and hotdogs with your vegan and Muslim friends.
But as its name suggests, the fries here are definitely their strong point; they are fresh, crispy, filling, and they have a large selection of sauces available to fit whatever taste you may be craving. Another highlight are the vegan nuggets; available a la carte or in a snack pack with your choice of fries. The food is served very fast, even during peak hours, meaning you probably won’t wait for more than a few minutes for your food.
These are just a small handful of places that you and your friends can visit if you ever find yourself in a situation where one or more of you are unable to eat certain types of food for religious or lifestyle reasons. If you know of any great places for Muslims and vegans to eat out at, let us know in the comments!
This story was produced by Media and Communication students at Trinity College Foundation Studies as part of Meld’s community newsroom collaboration. Education institutions, student clubs/societies and community groups interested in being involved can get in touch with us via firstname.lastname@example.org.