Although Melbourne is a HUGE city, complete with skyscrapers you’d expect to find in New York or Shanghai, it’s still got an amazing community feel. I’m not quite sure how it intertwines booming modernism and personal closeness so seamlessly, but I guess this is why it’s the world’s most liveable city !
One of the great things about Melbourne is you really get the impression that people want to help others. One of the ways it does this is through restaurants geared at sharing the love and community values rather than making money.
Enter: Lentil as Anything.
Lentil as Anything is all I love about food, and I think it’s Melbourne’s most sustainable restaurant. It’s healthy, vegan, DELICIOUS food that is served with a smile, amongst awesome décor. It’s well worth a visit just for the experience.
What’s better? It puts the community first and operates on a ‘pay what you wish’ basis. Lentil As Anything’s slogan is ‘food without borders’ and there are no fixed prices, and you don’t receive a bill at the end. All you do is stroll up to the donation box and put in what you think the meal is worth.
Lentil As Anything is staffed by volunteers and the owner doesn’t make any profit from their sales. Their mission is to make healthy food accessible to everyone, and they’re doing an amazing job!
The menu changes seasonally, with a specials board alternating daily. For lunch, the restaurant operates as a buffet, where you can select different dishes as you fill your own plate, and dinner is an a la carte menu.
Every meal I’ve had at Lentil As Anything is absolutely delicious. Their vegetable dosa is out of this world, and the veggie curry combines the best vegetables in an absolutely scrumptious sauce. I’ve tried some things at the buffet that I would expect in a high-class deli. But it’s all served with a smile in this gem of a restaurant; that’s down to earth, personable and most importantly, welcomes absolutely anyone.
But although the food is amazing, it’s the concept of Lentil As Anything that made me return multiple times throughout my three week stay in Melbourne. It’s so amazing to dine at a place that is detached from price tags; that cares more about the diners than the profit, and that one can eat at without worrying if they fit in the place. By introducing the pay what you wish module, Lentil As Anything works on trust and community support.
But the restaurant can only work if people really are transparent with their payments. Please don’t see Lentil As Anything as just a free meal if you do have the money. The restaurant relies on donations to keep it afloat and without them, it would cease to exist – this week, the Footscray restaurant has been forced to close because of insufficient donations . A donation of $15 pays for a starter, main, dessert and drink as well as covering their rental costs. This is crazily good value compared to other Melbourne restaurants, even if you’re exploring Melbourne on a budget!
The ‘pay what you wish’ method of payment means that some people who can’t afford $15 for a meal can pay less and still enjoy Lentil As Anything’s menu. If you are comfortable with money, please consider paying over $15 – $20+ can help to contribute for someone’s meal who’s less fortunate than you. It’s a really easy way to help out your community and keep great enterprises like Lentil As Anything open.
And, if you can’t afford to pay $15, perhaps consider volunteering for Lentil As Anything. It will not only help you cover your food costs, but give you valuable work experience as well as social opportunities! The establishment is always looking for more volunteers; get in contact with your local restaurant for more information!
Lentil As Anything is based in three locations around Melbourne: Abbotsford, Thornbury and St Kilda and one in Newtown in Sydney. The Abbotsford location is my favourite; it’s set in the grounds of the old abbey and has awesome décor while making the most of the green space around it, and Thornbury is pretty awesome too, as it has a big hall in the back where it offers yoga classes and other community projects.
So if you’re exploring Melbourne, like I was on my Melbourne to Perth Road Trip, do head down to Lentil as Anything, relish in some good veggie food and enjoy the fantastic, relaxed and personable atmosphere of the restaurant. Giving back to the community feels good!
Have you ever been to Lentil as Anything? Do you agree that it’s Melbourne’s most sustainable restaurant?
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