The Whole Food Movement


The Whole Food Movement

Just a block back from Bondi Beach, at the corner of Warner’s and Wairoa, stands what some might say is a sign of the times. In the space where Nina’s Ploy Thai faithfully served beach denizens for more than two decades, an airy new café has opened its doors, inviting neighbours into a welcoming space of wood, exposed brick and copper. But it’s the menu rather than the ambience, that’s drawing crowds. This latest addition the neighbourhood is Sadhana Kitchen, which started in Enmore and is known for organic, raw, vegan offerings.

Sydney’s eastern beaches have always had a somewhat complex relationship with food – us locals are typically health conscious and want to fit our cossies, but many also savour the occasional ice cream and a good burger. (Did someone say Bondi Tony’s?) Add tourists to the mix, and you have a checkerboard of offerings up and down the beachfront, with a disproportionate number of scoop shops by any measure. That said, the mix is shifting. The long-running Earth Food Store in Gould Street has just this week re-opened after a refurbishment which added additional, much-needed café seating, and Bondi Junction is full of organic offerings (Nalini’s Wholesome Street Food is worth a visit).

These changes aren’t limited to the east, but reach far across the city. You’ll find coconut yogurt and ice cream in nearly every grocery these days. AboutLife and Iku Wholefood – two of the most well established brands on the scene – are dotted around the city. And GoodFood.com.au had an article last month about the trend. Apparently there’s a vegan fish and chip joint, a vegan sushi spot, and even a vegan gelateria now.

It’s clear this previously niche market has gone mainstream.

So what gives? Have Sydney-siders all of a sudden decided meat is evil? Is everyone going raw?

According to the experts, the answer is yes… and no.

Certainly ethics play into eating choices. People are conscious of the impact of their actions, and many care deeply about animal welfare. That may mean some choose not to eat meat, while others still do, yet with more discriminating choices about which brands they purchase.

But whole food and vegan eating is growing in popularity for other reasons as well.

First of all, it can be healthy. You must continue to follow proper guidance to ensure you get required nutrients and limit sugars, but research shows that, on the whole, vegans consume less saturated fat and boast a lower Body Mass Index (BMI).

Second, it can be tasty – even gourmet. These days, people who happily consume meat on any other day are trying vegan offerings and finding they like them as much, if not more than their usual fare. 

Mainstream chefs are getting in on the action too – the Good Food article names Bentley, Otto, Quay and more as players on the scene. But this sort of eating needn’t be pricey. You can always head to Govinda’s, where $35 will get you dinner and a movie. With Sydney consistently ranking on the costliest city lists, that’s a deal that can’t be beat.