When you think of Byron Bay, a vegan lifestyle might be the first thing that comes to mind, right? A plant-based mecca brimming with yoga studios and meditation gurus?
It wasn’t always this way …
Yep, Byron Bay was originally a fishing town, in fact a top whaling destination and was home to a large pig farm and abattoir. It’s a far cry from the peaceful, healthy town we know today, which is listed as one of the hottest tourist spots on the planet (although the cinema is still referred to as ‘the piggery’).
50 years on, Byron Bay, with stunning beaches, rainforests, hinterland drives and incredible food, is the place two million people globally place the pin when mapping their next holiday.
Are you one of them? We hope so! To help you out, we’ve listed five amazing eateries that offer incredible vegan food Byron has to offer.
An explosion of taste, smells and colour, both the food and the variety of drinks on offer at this alchemy bar is mind-blowing! The entire Elixiba experience is sensorial, with its high vibrational environment that allows you to step outside of your everyday life and walk right into your bliss, plus some pretty mouth-watering morsels!
Elixiba walks the walk and talks the talk in every aspect of its existence, from its carefully curated space with sustainable furniture to packaging that reduces waste to the planet and harm to animals. And, it’s within this space that you can truly enjoy plant powered foods and elixirs.
The menu is sensational, but our favourite, Coco-Mari – coconut made into a meal that resembles friend calamari – is an absolute must-have. You’ll be tempted to over-order, as everything is just that good. If you do, they’ll happily give you a doggie bag to take home.
2. Manna Haven – Food for Body and Soul
Located on Johnson Street, Byron Bay, this café’s peaceful garden setting provides the perfect people-watching spot, as well as some pretty darn tasty vegan and vegetarian meals. We especially love the hearty, hot meals, which appear in the guise of Chickpea Tikka Masala, Indian Kedgeree Curry with Tofu and Dahl-a-Touille (a mash-up of Indian and Italian flavours that you’ll find yourself craving long after your meal is through).
3. Cardamom Pod
Loved by locals and tourists alike, Cardamom Pod serves the best Kofta Balls this side of India. The cosy setting belies the amount of options on offer, from curries and dahl to baked dishes like Lentil Moussaka and an array of salads that are fresh, tasty and healthy. Don’t miss the desserts, either! It won’t break your budget, either – you simply pay for your size plate (Small – $12.50, Medium – $16, Large – $19), and fill your plate with as many options as you wish!
4. Bayleaf Café
Open for breakfast, brunch and lunch, this is the best place in Byron to simply hang out, people watch and enjoy a lazy meal. The breakfast beverages are amazing (from Coconut Cold Brew to Loose Leaf and of course, locally roasted coffee) and the food on offer all day is fabulous. While it’s not strictly a vegan café, there are myriad vegan options. Don’t go past the breakfast greens, or if you’re craving something sweet, the porridge cooked in coconut milk!
The name says it all, really. The falafels at this vegan-vegetarian Mediterranean restaurant are hailed by those ‘in-the-know’ as being the best in the world (even long-time locals put their hand up for a free one when they’re offered, which is most days!). The dips are to-die-for and the share platters are big enough to feed a family. Again, it’s not strictly vegan, but there’s so many vegan options on there that you’d never even know. We also really dig the vibe going on – it’s bursting with character and friendly, smiling faces!
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By Lainie Bracher Towner, The Vegan Company