‘If we could live happy, healthy lives without harming others, why wouldn’t we?’ – Edgar’s Mission.
Celebrities are doing it. Athletes are thriving on it. Switched on restaurateurs and café owners are catering for it. Chances are someone you know is into it. It’s the vegan diet and judging by the number of restaurants and cafes on the Mornington Peninsula now offering vegan options and menus, this plant-based diet is growing in popularity here. There’s a ‘Mornington Peninsula Vegans’ Facebook group (more than 540 members) and word is a full vegan café and store is opening soon in Dromana. Frankly Frankston Magazine spoke with three inspiring peninsula locals and a vineyard about all things vegan.
Shani Vetter and Christian Marc
Shani is a personal trainer, a plant-built fitness competitor and owner of Smiling Assassin Fitness in Mornington. Her husband is well-known wedding and portrait photographer Christian Marc, of Christian Marc Photography. The Dromana couple became vegan three and a half years ago. They transitioned together and now share their knowledge and experience to help others transition and learn about sustainability, agriculture and nutrition (Shani even has an Instagram account dedicated to it - @veganfitnessassassin).
Shani was already a pescatorian (seafood but no other animal flesh) for health reasons, but after stumbling on a book about animal cruelty in the meat and dairy industry the pair went vegan and haven’t looked back. “We found the affirmation that we needed that other people were living this way and thriving,” Shani explains.
“When we closed the door to these animal products another opened to other products that we wouldn’t have considered before. Our mindset of our plate changed too. It was no longer about meat and sides, our plates became beautiful with colour.”
Shani has competed, with success, as a vegan in three different natural bodybuilding bikini competitions over the past few years - two in Australia with the International Natural Bodybuilding Association and one in Texas at the Naturally Fit Games where she placed second. “I was competing alongside a team of 30 to 40-plus vegan athletes all there to show how we thrived on a plant-based diet,” she said.
Christian transitioned to a full vegan diet after years of what he describes as being a “conscious meat eater”. “No one wants to see animals suffer, but when you think you need to eat these things to be happy and healthy, you put it out of your mind. That’s where I was at,” he explains. He meticulously researched the vegan diet and the couple have now connected with many vegans across Melbourne. Both have found plenty of cafes and restaurants on the peninsula offering vegan options. Christian uses the Edgar’s Mission quote (at the top of this piece) to explain why he connects with vegan principles and recommends ‘101 Reasons to Go Vegan’ on YouTube. For vegan-friendly dining they recommend Store Fifteen, The Winey Cow and Thanks Albert Burger Company (chickpea burger) in Mornington; Merchant & Maker in McCrae and Dee’s Kitchen in Dromana, among many.