Justine de Jonge is a Melbourne freelance travel writer and blogger who loves travelling the vegan road. She also loves blogging about her vegan travels at www.fireandtea.com .
Published February 6th 2020
Ethical food for the spirit
Nestled in the hills of Melbourne's outer east is the town of Upwey. Tucked away off the Burwood Highway is Nevedya on Main Street. On the surface, Nevedya is a warm and friendly vegetarian café that creates meals to sustain the body and fuel the spirit.
Yet, let's go deeper. In the Marathi language, nevedya translates to an offering (some edible) to an idol. Nevedya is therefore drawn to creating food with love that nourishes the hearts and the bodies of its beloved customers.
Throughout Nevedya's menu of vegetarian and vegan meals, nourishment through love is above all else. Using ingredients that are organic, sustainable, ethical and nutritious channel this love. Customers are seated within warming internal dining spaces, on couches or at tables. The interiors glow in crimson and wood carvings ornate the spaces. Specials boards coax customers to the fulfilling foods on offer, while the hum of a lunch service gives Nevedya its home-like atmosphere.
If the weather is favourable, customers can choose to sit outdoors in the back courtyard instead. The yard is sheltered and overlooks a rambling backyard vegetable and herb garden. In the distance, fog nestles in the rambling hills of The Dandenongs, giving the courtyard a calming, back-to-nature feel. This feel also accentuates Nevedya's commitment to using organic, free-trade and refined sugar-free ingredients, and locally sourced bread and produce while supporting small-scale suppliers.
Getting as close to nature as possible is the best way to experience Nevedya and grabbing a seat in the courtyard seems to be the ultimate seating choice. If the rain does decide to fall, then the shelter keeps customer dry as they enjoy watching the inclement weather over a soothing elixir, healing tea or Aztec hot chocolate. The hot chocolate is prepared from melted dark chocolate, maca, cardamom, ginger, raw cacao and coconut milk; a recipe that helps to balance mood. The hot chocolate is warming and smooth, with a subtle spice to it. The body feels calm and cosy once the beverage is sipped slowly. Customers who prefer a cooler beverage can choose an iced coffee or lassi and iced elixirs.
Nevedya also prides itself on food cooking methods. Here, the kitchen says no to deep fryers and microwaves. Instead, all meals are made from scratch without relying on convenience. Slow cooking methods thus reign here in order to maximise the frequency and harmony of each nutritious meal.
Nevedya's chosen cooking philosophy means that customers may wait a little longer for their meals. But the resulting flavours are worth it. To gain the most of Nevedya's love, choosing the macrobiotic zen bowl. Customers can choose a small or regular size, depending on the size of their appetite. Both sizes are filling; each bowl is packed with avocado, salad leaves, pickled cucumber, arame seaweed, raw kimchi, toasted seeds and medicinal lion's mane mushrooms. A pot of luminescent miso cashew dressing is the centrepiece of the bowl, ready to pour over the bouquet of ingredients. Customers can choose to have the bowl served with sourdough toast or brown rice and extra salad. Then customers can 'add on' a serve of tamari tempeh, poached egg or almond feta. The feta complements the flavours perfectly without being too big a meal.
For a sweeter finish, Nevedya's superfood buckwheat banana pancakes are a tempting choice. Nevedya's menu choices are considerate, in the sense that they give customers the choice of vegan options and gluten-free options. The pancakes are gluten-free as well as vegan; plump, fluffy and brimming with flavour. The pancakes are towered and served with creamy coconut yoghurt, toasted hemp seeds, mesquite, summer fruits and berry compote. A bottle of maple syrup is always close by for those customer wanting that little bit more richness.
Not only is Nevedya committed to making nourishing food, it's committed to the welfare of its staff. A 10% weekend hospitality charge and a 15% public holiday surcharge apply, in order for Nevedya to support fairer working conditions and create greater wellbeing in the hospitality industry. These surcharges allow Nevedya to provide all staff with weekend penalty rates among other benefits.
Customers are supporting local producers and makers when they come to Nevedya, and they are also supporting a wider community movement in ethics. The act of giving is what makes Nevedya a delicious and a more ethical local destination to experience.