Words Emily Holgate
Written for my fellow vegans at Melbourne University.
* * *
You’re lining up at your favourite campus cafe. There’s five minutes until your next tute starts, and you’ve been waiting impatiently. Finally, it’s your turn. Sheepishly, you shuffle forward.
“I’ll have a large, extra hot, dirty soy chai please.”
You glance sideways, receiving many an eye roll and a mocking smile. It’s true, it can be hard being the campus vegan. Often patronised for only eating tofu and grass, and constantly berated about how we get our protein, the vegan life can be a tricky one. Thankfully, here at UoM, there are many other pretentious, tofu eating freaks on campus, so it’s not too hard to get your soy latte fix. But as students, constantly tired, hungover or a combination of the two, we are coffee snobs, vegan or not. So where is the best place for a good, plant based coffee?
Well, fear no more UniMelb vegans. I’ve done the work for you. Whether you’re a hardcore vegan, plant based for health reasons, taking on meatless mondays, or simply trying to impress that cute vegan girl in your lecture – you’ve come to the right place. Here I present to you, my go to cafes for a vegan coffee and lunch, right at our very own Parkville campus. You’re welcome.
So one freezing Tuesday morning, I was on my way to a French tute in John Medley. It was 9am, and I severely needed a coffee fix. And there, it appeared before me, right along the way. House of Cards. With it’s coffee cart setup, this caffeine pitstop is cute, quirky, and only charges 40c extra for both soy AND almond milk. That’s right, equality for plant milks baby. What’s more, instead of using your name, you receive a playing card, making you feel extra #melbourne as you hear “queen of hearts, large almond latte!” called out into the brisk morning air. In the drinks department, you can enjoy any classic coffee made with almond or soy milk. But what’s more, their chai powder is milk-free too. Vegans often miss out on the sweet, comforting taste of chai in winter, as milk powder is used in many mixtures. But at House of Cards, you bet your (probably freezing) ass you can get that large, extra hot dirty soy chai. As for food, enjoy once a week vegan muffins, or crunch into a warm toastie, filled with roasted vegetables, sun-dried tomatoes and watercress. Oh stop it. You had me at toastie. Best of all, before leaving, put your card into a slot for either an environmental, social, health or cultural cause. Hats off to you, House of Cards.
Now, if you’re a design or science student, you might spend more time on the other side of campus. Afternoons climbing the dreaded Redmond Barry stairs, you most definitely need some fuel to get you through that lab. Never fear, Castro’s is here. Castro’s Kiosk, located near the MSD and Redmond Barry, charges NOTHING for regular soy milk, and only 50c extra for Bonsoy. On a day where I need some comforting, a cinnamon soy latte goes down perfectly. Or, if I’m feeling a little adventurous, I’ll try a caramel or hazelnut latte. But beware; any of the flavour combinations that involve chocolate or mocha are NOT vegan friendly. Yep, the dreaded milk powder strikes again. But thankfully, Castro’s has a mouth watering smashed avo and chickpea multigrain roll, with optional toasting. Just for all you kids who never plan on buying a house. There’s also a selection of pre made salads and sandwiches, many of which vegan, so you can grab your lunch and coffee to go.
Now just around the corner, near Tin Alley and the sports fields, is the cute, baby pink Brew Sisters cart. Just two sisters and their mobile coffee cart, I’m all about supporting some kickass #girlpower. They have both almond and soy milk, AND don’t charge extra for either – hells to the yeah! What’s more, if you bring a KeepCup, they only charge you for a small coffee no matter how large the size. $3.60 for a large, soy minty mocha? Umm..yes please? And that’s right, their mocha is vegan. So unlike at Castro’s, go crazy mixing and matching those syrups, powders and milks. When I visited, they were also selling vegan white chocolate macadamia cookies, which were incredible. Cannot wait to see what else the girls have in store throughout the week.
Whilst these three cafes are my go to, I have tried and tested many, if not all, of the vegan options on campus. There’s plenty going around for us tree hugging hippies; from falafel packs at Ho Ho’s Canteen, vegan potato pizza at Pronto’s, or any of the delectable daily hot pots at the Food Co-Op – UniMelb has us covered. So now I’m curious; what’s your favourite vegan food on campus?