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We asked a vegan to give us their top Wellington picks for a number of occasions. Aunty Sue’s in town, and she’s paying? Need a healthy post-gym energy boost? What about something indulgent for those dusty days? Eden Vegan’s got you covered.

Tessa Manch aka Eden Vegan

Tessa Eden Manch’s earliest food memory is a bowl of hot porridge sprinkled with brown sugar, made by her Mum on a cold winter’s morning. ‘Just like Goldilocks,’ she laughs.

She describes her food philosophy as being able to fuel your body in a positive way. ‘Everyone has to eat. I just want to do so without having a negative impact on another living being. This is what I find most important when it comes to food.’

The vegan instagrammer has been posting as Eden Vegan (@eden.vegan) for about 18 months. She began because ‘I wanted to show people how easy it was to be vegan. You didn’t need any special knowledge or skills and you didn’t have to meet some stereotype.’

She says the best thing about the foodie space on the ‘gram is the sharing of knowledge and recipes. ‘You don’t have to travel far online to find ideas and inspiration.’ The only downside is ‘every day seeing new treats I want to try but aren’t available in New Zealand.’

Tessa’s tip for people thinking of going vegan is to start small. ‘It’s not always realistic to go vegan overnight. Every little change you make can have a positive impact.’

BYO with friends:
MASALA DOSAI
Rasa, Cuba Street
I’ve never been to India but I’m convinced this cheap dosai is authentic, right down to the metal dish. There’s a nice balance between the spicy masala and creamy coconut chutney – a drawcard itself. Many people don’t know that Rasa is a BYO venue. If you forget to bring a bottle, there’s Indian wine on the menu.

Grab and go:
BEETROOT LATTE
Seize, Lambton Quay
While everyone in Wellington is ordering a black coffee, I’m after a bright pink, caffeine-free drink made from a root vegetable. Everything about this latte is bold. It’s rich enough to satisfy my sweet tooth and a punchy aftertaste gives enough of a kick for my morning. The pink foam is delicious and looks pretty in my reusable cup.

Rellies in town:
POPCORN TOFU
Chow Wellington, Tory Street
This bite-sized popcorn would easily be my death row meal choice, which is why I keep finding myself at Chow. My mouth waters just thinking about the crunch and the tangy plum sauce. And it always leaves me contemplating another plate, which – greedily – I order without regret.

After the gym:
POWER BOWL SALAD
Aroha Plant Based, Press Hall, Willis Street
I’m a believer in starting the week right, though sometimes I‘m poorly prepared. On a hectic Monday I rely on this power bowl. It has every green you’d want, and a textured vege protein you probably didn’t know existed. It feels close to eating sunlight, that’s how pure this salad is.

Hangover cure:
HOWLING WOLF BURGER
Plant Blazed, Food truck on Dunlop Tce
Hangovers are a rare occasion these days and I’m not a big ‘faux meat’ fan. But seitan isn’t exactly a sin and I’ll take the excuse for this burger. The tang of the BBQ sauce clears a head-fog and the slaw means this is a health food, surely.

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