Five years ago, vegan eateries were non-existent on the Gold Coast with most people still associating plant-based cuisine with tasteless lentil curries and mung bean salads.
Since then, the vegan and vegetarian scene has exploded to meet the needs of the growing number of locals seeking a healthier lifestyle and sustainable, cruelty-free ingredients.
With Australia the third-fastest growing vegan market in the world, it’s hardly surprising that plant-based eateries, boutiques, beauty salons – and even Australia’s first plant-based kebab outlet – are popping up all over the city, while restaurateurs are adding vegan options to their menus faster than you can say kimchi.
It’s never been easier for vegans to vacay on the Gold Coast so here are some of our favourite plant-based venues to add to your hit list.
(Psst! Not strictly vegan but all about organic #cleaneating? This one’s for you.)
Best Vegan Restaurant: Greenhouse Canteen & Bar
Sisters Charlie and Natalie Evans helped take veganism mainstream when they opened their cruelty-free eatery, Greenhouse Canteen & Bar, at Kirra more than four years ago.
Now based at Miami, this plant-filled oasis is packed out every night with diners inhaling vibrant, plant-based goodness like smoked jackfruit enchiladas, beetroot burgers and Moroccan chickpea crepes and sipping on organic wine.
We’ve eaten our way through the menu numerous times however their generous quinoa chilli nachos – with black beans, quinoa, fresh veggies and avocado salsa – is hard to beat, particularly accompanied by a classic margarita – or two.
Their ethos is cruelty-free and loving it and we have to say; we are too!
Btw, the girls are behind epic plant-based day spa, Bathhouse by Greenhouse (pictured as feature image), in Burleigh Heads too.
Best Vegan Pizza: Francie’s
Okay, so this isn’t a vegan restaurant but this cool, Neo-Neapolitan-style pizzeria in the laidback southern GC beach town of Coolangatta does have an entire menu for plant-based diners.
Vegans don’t have to miss out on tucking into their Italian favourites with vegan garlic bread, a choice of four different starters – vegan meatballs, anyone? – and seven tasty pizza options on the menu.
Savour animal-friendly, wood-fired options with quirky names like the White Nice with mushrooms, caramelised onion, rosemary, olive oil, rocket and beer reduction and the delicious Dollop Parton with tomato, vegan sausage, cashew ricotta, garlic and basil washed down with a glass of Francie’s shiraz.
Best Vegan Facial: Earth + Skin
When Gold Coast local Louisa Hollenberg’s mother was diagnosed with breast cancer, she began researching ways in which she could live a chemical and plastic-free lifestyle, particularly when it came to products she was using in her home and on her skin.
Her findings inspired her to open Earth + Skin, an organic spa in a reimagined Queenslander-style home in Mudgeeraba where you can soothe your mind, body and soul completely guilt-free.
All products used in the tranquil, recently refurbished space are vegan – except for a couple of items which contain beeswax – and the Vegan Collagen Stimulating Facial is a definite hit with plant-based folk.
The treatment, designed with high-profile vegan blogger Bonny Rebecca, includes hand-selected key ingredients to support collagen production within the skin due to the high plant-based protein content.
There’s also an impressive selection of vegan cosmetics and skincare products to purchase in the store.
Best Vegan Ramen: i like ramen
Australia’s first permanent plant-based marketplace, Lovechild Marketplace, opened its doors at Miami earlier this year and has fast become a hangout for vegans and carnivores alike.
The upscale two-storey food precinct has five different eateries and a bar serving craft beer and cocktails, like the addictive Miami Vice, seven days and nights a week.
To be honest, everything dished up at The LC is a vegan foodie’s dream but it’s fair to say ramen fans rejoiced when cult local institution i like ramen popped up at the market-style venue.
These guys serve up some seriously tasty and healthy concoctions like spicy kimchi ramen; soy mushroom and white miso flavours topped with bok choy and fried tofu. Don’t forget to add a cheeky side of panko-crumbed mushrooms. You won’t regret it.
Best Vegan Bakery: Flour of Life Bakery
There’s nothing like tucking into a sausage roll or doughnut after a morning surf at one of the famous Gold Coast beaches. The good news is, vegans no longer have to miss out on a bakery fix in the surf city, thanks to Helensvale icon, Flour of Life.
The brainchild of owner Steve O’Brien, the vegan bakery nails sweet and savoury favourites like lamingtons, cronuts and iced doughnuts as well as pies and sausage rolls without using any animal products – and it tastes like the real deal.
For those closer to the southern end of town, Flour of Life is also operating out of The LC Miami from 6am until 2pm seven days a week.
Best Vegan yum cha: Easy House
You’ll find this family-run hidden gem tucked into a shopping complex at Mermaid Waters and while it may look unassuming, the food is certainly not.
This decade-old eatery offers a range of traditional Chinese dishes like pork buns, dumplings and dim sum using non-animal protein substitutes.
The lunchtime yum cha menu features handmade dumplings – standouts are the mushroom and coriander flavours – and a host of other fresh and flavoursome dishes.
Although not on the yum cha menu, make sure you ask for the XO Noodles. They’re a standout and a hit with the locals.
Best Vegan Burger: Blendlove
From humble beginnings as a market stall, Blendlove is easily one of the best and healthiest plant-based eateries on the Gold Coast.
The brainchild of owners Riki-Lee Gilbert and Sharlene Fletcher, Blendlove began as a raw treats business before the overwhelming response prompted the ladies to expand into a one-stop-shop where vegans and non-vegans could enjoy a plant-based meal, coffee or smoothie.
For a burger fix without the guilt, opt for the BBQ Ranch Burger, with a house-made bean and kale patty, smokey ranch aioli, greens, and a side of their hand-cut sweet potato fries with house-made vegan cashew aioli.
Don’t leave without trying one of their famous raw desserts, which are vegan and gluten, dairy and refined sugar-free.