Grey Lynn village is gaining a reputation as a go-to hub for ethical shopping and dining. Consumers seeking stores and eateries that align with their personal ethics are drawn to the cluster of vegetarian, vegan and planet-friendly shops on the corner of Great North Road and Williamson Avenue.
The demand for Tart’s vegan food is so strong that a queue of customers regularly stretches out to the pavement. Vegans are drawn to the bakery’s sweet and savoury pastries that do not contain milk or cheese made from animal products or eggs.
“We sell ‘mince and cheese’ pies but they have the vegan equivalents of mince and cheese,” says Philippa. “We stand for passion for the environment and animal welfare.”
The Vegan Shop, a relatively recent arrival from its former Karangahape Road location, is also doing great business.
“We stock at least 40 different types of vegan cheese, as well as world-famous brands of faux meats and seafoods,” says Jill Peterson of The Vegan Shop.
In addition to offering a range of products not found in supermarkets, the store has planet-friendly products. It offers customers shopping bags that will compost in a domestic compost within three months and any products that contain palm oil use only certified sustainable palm oil. All beauty products are chemical free and certified vegan.
”This is a place where shoppers can feel comfortable knowing they don't have to scrutinise the labels as all products are guaranteed free from animal-based ingredients,” says Jill.
“Our customers range from locals to people from all over New Zealand and tourists from around the world. Some are vegan, some have allergies or family and friends with allergies, and others are looking for alternative ways of eating which may be healthier for them.”
Since Kokako Café was established in Grey Lynn as a flagship outpost for the Kokako brand five years ago, it has become a mecca for vegetarians. Earlier this year Troy Mentor, formerly the owner of Dizengoff café on Ponsonby Road, bought the café. Under Troy’s ownership, Kokako’s reputation for specialty organic coffee and quality food continues.
Kokako also saves tonnes of waste from landfill by turning it into something good for the environment. “The cafe has one small landfill wheelie bin per week of rubbish and the rest (cardboard, soft plastics, coffee grinds and compostable material) is recycled,” says Troy. “All our takeaway food and drink containers are from Innocent Packaging. They are compostable and are made entirely from plant-based materials.
Grey Lynn Fine Wines and Spirits is a newcomer to the village. Since opening in March it has increased its organic wine stock due to customer demand.
Sekhar Reddy, of Grey Lynn Fine Wines and Spirits, says at the beginning the store’s customer were mostly locals but a growing number are coming from outside the area. “We have gained new clientele from nearby suburbs due to our range of organic wines and premium spirits. Our regular customers have spread the word and helped us gain more clientele within a very short time.”
As well as offering a range of organic and vegan wines, the store also sells sulphite free and preservative free wines.
Award-winning Grey Lynn Butchers added organic meats to its selection when the organic butcher in West Lynn closed a few years ago. “We knew those customers would be looking for somewhere else to source organic meat,” says owner Lucia Rodrigues. “Our loyal customers, who come from all over the city, now have an organic option.”
The non-organic meat, which is locally and ethically sourced, includes free-farmed meats, wild game and PigCare certified New Zealand pork.
Another relatively recent arrival in the village is Tiger Burger, which offers western street food heavily inspired by Asian flavours. It has adopted several planet-friendly business practices, including using sustainable packaging, composting food waste and sourcing ingredients locally, as much as possible. Tiger’s beef burgers are made from meat sourced from a single farm in Taupo. (JENNIFER NORTHOVER, GREY LYNN BUSINESS ASSOCIATION)