Restaurant now dedicated to plant-based menu

Growing trend: Simon Leigh says his decision to move to a plant-based menu at his Port Macquarie restaurant is a 'pretty bold move'. Photo: Peter Daniels
Growing trend: Simon Leigh says his decision to move to a plant-based menu at his Port Macquarie restaurant is a 'pretty bold move'. Photo: Peter Daniels

There's the old joke that goes something like, ‘how do you tell if someone is a vegan’.

Port Macquarie's Phoebe Crane says the punchline - 'don't worry, they will tell you' - doesn't ring true anymore.

Mrs Crane is part of a Facebook page called Vegan Apprentice Port Macquarie.

She says the aim of the page is to provide support, information and ideas on the latest plant-based foods available in the area.

"We also regularly post photos of meals available at local cafes and restaurants too," she says.

"The group has already attracted up to 500 followers and they come from all walks of life.

"These people have come to a plant-based diet for many reasons. For me, it is about leaving the smallest possible footprint, the health benefits and I don't like the cruelty to animals.

"It doesn't matter to our group what path you have taken or your reasons for moving to a plant-based diet. Our aim is to promote healthy eating and a more healthy lifestyle," she said.

Mrs Crane said the other important message was that the group was not interested in 'converting anyone'

"If you want to learn how to live a plant-based lifestyle, we are here and we can provide you with some options," she added.

If you want to learn how to live a plant-based lifestyle, we are here and we can provide you with some options.

Phoebe Crane

With a growing number of supporters of a vegan diet, the group is fielding more questions from tourists and locals looking for the best cafes and restaurants to cater to their particular dietary needs.

One Port Macquarie restaurant has heeded the upswing in desire for plant-based foods and is now a fully dedicated vegan restaurant.

Latin Loafer owner Simon Leigh says the move to a plant-based restaurant was a long time coming.

"I never really thought I'd see the day when there would be a such a groundswell of support for a vegan restaurant in Port Macquarie," he said.

"But that's been my experience; I am looking to provide good, easily accessible food that people can relate too."

With a inaugural menu featuring fries, pumpkin salad, nachos and tacos, few could argue with him.

Although admitting it was a 'pretty bold move', Mr Leigh said the response had been fantastic.

"I want people to come here, enjoy the food and the atmosphere and find out for themselves that they've just eaten 100 per cent plant-based food," he said.

"That's not to say that you have to sign up to vegan allegiances to eat here either. This is about good, fun and tasty food.

"Inclusiveness is a great addition to your dining experience."

Mr Leigh said his decision to turn to a vegetarian and vegan diet was based on a family history of bowel cancer.

"I woke up one day and just decided to start a vegetarian diet about 30 years ago. The same thing happened when I gave up dairy; it was the best change I've made to my life.

"This is a positive decision, a good business move and a great point of difference for the restaurant."

Experimenting with different foods, changing up the menu to keep it fresh and seasonal are among the challenges for chef Michael Lee.

On Saturday (July 7) members of Vegan Apprentice Port Macquarie will host a Vegan Christmas in July from 2pm at Latin Loafer.

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