All the data is telling us that people are opting for a less meat heavy diet. From high end restaurants like Yellow going vegetarian, Newtown's famous pizzeria Gigi adopting a plant-based menu and the rise of movements like 'Meat free Mondays', the demand is there for more vegetarian and vegan-friendly dining in the city, and now things are about to step up a serious notch with the introduction of Sydney's first ever all-vegan pub.
And it's not where you might expect. In spite of the popularity of famed vegan establishments like Lentil as Anything and Golden Lotus on South King Street, none of Newtown's beloved boozers are changing tack – you'll find the Green Lion in Rozelle. You might know it as the Red Lion, a two-story old-school pub on Darling Street with a breezy balcony and a set of old salty dogs propping up the bar. But everything is set to change on Saturday 17 September when the pub will split in two with the new green direction unveiled on the first floor.
The vegan bistro menu is recreating pub classics without the animal products, which means vegetarian bangers and mash, maybe a tofu dog and a meat-free burger. Nachos, pies and fish and chips are set to get a makeover too. The wines will be vegan (no fish scales used in the filtration process) as will the beers.
The new direction for the venue couldn't be better timed, with a recent report from Roy Morgan revealing that "between 2012 and 2016, the number of Australian adults whose diet is all or almost all vegetarian has risen. From 1.7 million people (or 9.7% of the population) to almost 2.1 million (11.2%). The shift has been most striking in New South Wales, where there has been a 30% growth in this kind of diet. The report stated that in ‘March 2016, 12.4% of people living in NSW agreed that ‘The food I eat is all, or almost all, vegetarian’, and the number of people who ‘eat little or no meat’ has reached 14.4%."
That's a big tick for meat free ventures then. Green Lion co-founder Bhavani Baumann says "we are opening the Green Lion with the belief that great and tasty comfort food can be made without animal products and will be creating plant based food that will appeal to everyone. We believe in supporting people who are making conscious choices with their food, want to challenge the idea of what a beer and burger can be."
The Green Lion, level 1, 726 Darling Street, Rozelle 2039.
Opening Sat 17 Sep.
Want more veg-friendly dining? Here's our pick of the best Sydney restaurants for vegetarians.