You might think that you’d need to live in a major city to be able to sample delicious vegan food. But as vegan eating continues to explode in popularity, rural foodies are giving Melbourne and Sydney a run for their money.
And the best town in the country for plant-based delights? Castlemaine, Victoria. Yes, this former gold rush town now has a rush on vegan food.
Guide to Vegan Food in Castlemaine
Why is Castlemaine the most vegan-friendly small town in Australia? With a huge number of vegan-friendly food stops, it’s unbelievably easy to find delicious plant-based meals here.
Here are our favourite places:
Situated within the Old Castlemaine Gaol, the “Gov Café” couldn’t be in a cooler setting.
And its recently revamped menu – full of vegan options – is also pretty cool. We love its creatively named dishes – the daily Salad McSaladface and Soup Dogg are menu highlights – and with deliciously hearty meals such as the Busta Shroom (pan-fried mushrooms with hazelnuts on toast), you’ll find a ton of clearly marked vegan options here.
For brunch fans, try the Banana Bread Granola with Coyo. Yum!
Those with a seriously sweet tooth will also be satisfied. Try the house-made vegan version of Nutella, the Apple Pie Rice Pudding with Coconut Milk, or the vegan Lemon Chai Cheesecake.
A quaint little spot to chill out in, Saffs Cafe is a Castlemaine favourite – and it has plenty to offer those who like their food with a generous dollop of compassion.
Bring your dog, as many locals do, and sit outside to eat in the sunshine.
The vegan breakfast is definitely our menu highlight at Saffs Cafe.
And once you’ve scoffed a meal, there are also some healthy treats to enjoy. Try the vegan Bliss Balls – you won’t be able to stop at just one!
If you’re looking for somewhere to enjoy a delicious dinner, look no further. Naam Pla Thai has plenty to offer those who choose plant-based meals.
Try the Daikon Fritters, Mung Bean Bites, and Spring Rolls for an appetiser:
Then sample one of the delicious main meals, and rejoice in the fact that all vegan items are clearly marked on the menu. We love the Panang Curry with Tofu and Cashews. If you have room for dessert, there’s also a vegan Pandan Jelly.
Two words: yum cha! If you love dumplings, this is the place for you. There are plenty of vegan options, which are – again – clearly marked on the menu. Castlemaine also wins the prize for having restaurants with the most clearly labelled menus in Australia, it seems.
Some of the many vegan options include dim sims, steamed buns, dumplings, spring rolls, and deep-fried tofu.
Located in the wonderful Food Garden, the completely vegan Conscious Caravan is home to delicious sweet treats and healthy raw foods.
A plethora of cakes, slices, puddings, and more will satisfy even the mightiest of cravings.
And there are plenty of savoury options on the ever-changing menu, too:
Held on the first Sunday of each month, the Castlemaine Artists Market now features delicious treats from Von’s Vegan Bake House.
Specialising in gluten-free and vegan baked goods, Von’s Vegan Bake House is a favourite among Melburnians and is now bringing the vegan love to Castlemaine.
Bed and breakfast, art gallery, event venue, and café – The Diggers Store is located in Campbells Creek and is one hip location. Vegan options are often on offer here, and it’s well worth a visit. We especially love the sweet treats.
And just down the road is Australia’s first vegan B&B – Bed & Broccoli.
Restaurants and cafés aren’t the only ones vying for a slice of the vegan pie in Castlemaine, as retailers such as Green Goes the Grocer, IGA, and even Coles and Woolworths stock up on delicious vegan cheeses, chocolates, plant milks, mock meats, and, of course, vegan Castlemaine Dips! Vegans can also easily pick up fast food at Subway and Domino’s.
Our Other Favourite Vegan Small Towns
Two other vegan-friendly small towns worth noting are Denmark in Western Australia and Kingaroy in Queensland.
Normally known for its peanuts, Kingaroy also has tons of vegan-friendly food stops. Stand-out meals include vegan pies at The Giving Tree Cafe, Magpies’ stuffed potatoes, the vegan curries at Singh’s Royal Cuisine, the Explorer Restaurant’s vegan stir-fry, and Taste South Burnett’s vegan selection platter.
And those with a sweet tooth will miss out if they don’t take a peek inside the cake cabinet at The Giving Tree Cafe!
Denmark, Western Australia, is an agricultural town turned holiday hot spot, which is home to more than five vegan-friendly food stops. Stand-out meals include Luscious Coffee Bar’s vegan toasted sandwich and huge veggie burger, the vegan pizza at Massimo’s Place, Ravens Coffee Roastery’s pasta with cashew cheese or raw pad Thai, and the mango and tofu curry from Mrs Jones Café.
Not only do vegans prevent animals from suffering, they’re also less likely than meat-eaters to suffer themselves – from heart disease, strokes, diabetes, cancer, or obesity. Vegan meals are greener, too, as the meat industry is a major producer of greenhouse gases that contribute to climate change.