By DAMIEN NOVAK
“Whether you’re a vegan, flexitarian, pescatarian or never had a plant-based meal in your life, we want to help create an even greater shift towards plant-based eating.”
So says Lara Young, co-founder of VEats: a one-stop online destination where plant-based foodies – or anyone curious about vegan food – can explore local restaurants, book a table and get online delivery from eateries offering meat-free options.
Having launched its pilot platform during ‘Veganuary’, the popular annual initiative that encourages people to ‘try vegan’ for the month of January, VEats encompasses restaurants and food retailers across Sydney.
“Australia is one of the fastest growing vegan markets in the world and Sydney is the perfect city to launch, with vegan hubs like Newtown leading the way,” says Young.
“We hope to showcase the best plant-based food the city has to offer and change the way people perceive and access plant-based food in their everyday lives.”
The platform has more than 600 directory listings across Sydney, including locations in the CBD, Inner West, Eastern Suburbs and Northern Beaches. The listings include 100 per cent plant-based food outlets as well as those offering three or more plant-based options.
While Sydney is the first stop for VEeats, there are plans for a city-by-city expansion to other Australian cities, such as Melbourne, Brisbane and Perth – and even to London and Brighton in the UK.
From meat to VEats
Explaining her own transition to veganism almost five years ago, Young, the owner of a digital marketing agency, says: “Having grown up as a meat eater all my life, it never crossed my mind that there was another way of living.
“At the age of 36 I was overweight, overworked, managing being a wife, a mother of three, running two businesses and everything else life had to throw at me. Food was always there to comfort me.”
After watching the Netflix documentary What the Health – which explores the link between diet and disease – and carrying out further research, Young had an epiphany about her diet.
“Being a massive foodie I had to learn about a whole new way of eating,” she says.
“The journey wasn’t easy and I spent hours and days researching restaurants, checking menus, calling ahead to get them to accommodate me, and trying to veganise food through other delivery platforms … That’s when I had the idea for VEats.”
That idea has become reality, thanks to Young’s efforts and backing from numerous sources, including marketing expert and VEats co-founder Susan McCarthy, impact-driven alternative asset management firm Bamford Capital and Order Up! – Australia’s leading online food ordering platform.
“We are proud to be partnering with the team at VEats to help make plant-based eating easy and accessible in your everyday life,” says Clive Thorpe, CCO of Order Up!
And then, of course, there are the restaurants. Partners for the initial Sydney launch include vegan eateries such as Koshari Korner, Gigi Pizzeria and newcomer Flave, as well as meal kit delivery service Just Add Vegan.
“We’re on a mission to change people’s perceptions of plant-based eating and wow them with flavourful burgers and bowls,” says Samantha Cook, co-founder of the newly-launched fast-casual vegan restaurant Flave in Bondi Beach.
“When we heard about VEats and our shared vision, we were excited to partner with them. Together we’re making plant-based food more easily accessible – just a click away.”
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