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Yalumba goes vegan

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I’m an unreconstructed carnivore, or should that be omnivore, and I’ve long held the view that vegetarians are missing out, not only on a lot of great food, but a lot of the great food-wine partnerships.

However, a friend and I thoroughly enjoyed a vegan lunch recently at a little place in Sydney called Sadhana Kitchen. The tacos and polenta were smashing, as were the freshly-made fruit and vegetable based drinks. I must say, everyone else in the place looked very young and very healthy. It’s in Enmore Rd, Enmore, and claims to specialize in raw foods and organic wholefoods.

I’m intrigued how the current series of vegan dinners hosted by Yalumba’s chief winemaker Louise Rose is working out. It’s the first time I’ve heard of a winery doing this.

Full marks to Yalumba (tastings) for spotting a good marketing opportunity. Many of its labels have been boasting for some years that their wines are vegan friendly. As I’ve written here before, this means they’ve been made without the use of any animal products.

Many drinkers will be surprised that any animal products are used in the making of any wine. In fact, egg-whites or whole eggs, and isinglass (a fish by-product) have long been used as clarifying agents. Such agents don’t remain part of the wine; they simply fall to the bottom of the tank after they have performed their job of electrolytically attracting unwanted particles such as proteins, unstable colour pigments and tannins. The agents don’t go into the bottle, but no-one can ever guarantee that traces won’t sometimes remain.

Now, Yalumba uses modern technology in the form of crossflow filters to take out these unwanted particles.

I asked how many Australians are classified as vegan, and couldn’t get a simple answer. The Vegan Society of NSW replied: There aren’t official or accurate stats, but we have some good info on our website www.vegansocietynsw.com/vs/html/campaigns_vegan_dining.html

It includes this:

Hard statistics about the number of vegans and the number of people who at times eat vegan meals are hard to come by. This is particularly true for Australia. A few that can be found are:

  • The 2011 draft Australian Dietary Guidelines states that “About 4% of respondents in the National Nutrition Survey 1995 described themselves as vegetarian or vegan. The food frequency questionnaire data recorded only 2% as consuming no animal products, and a further 2% as restricting consumption of animal foods to fish or white meat. Many more people eat vegetarian meals regularly or occasionally.”
  • In Australia, consumption of animal products (measured as calories per person) has fallen about 20% since the 1970s. – United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization database.

There are religious, health, allergy and dietary reasons for excluding animal products. There are also animal welfare reasons, and – increasingly – environmental impact reasons. Yalumba’s Sydney dinner was at Harvest Vegetarian Restaurant in Rozelle. The chef presented a menu that included Indian pakoras matched with Yalumba Eden Valley Viognier (tastings), and spinach and kumara gnocchi matched with Yalumba Old Bush Vine Grenache (tastings). The Melbourne dinner will be held at Shakahari Restaurant on November 25. Bookings at www.yalumba.com or phone 08 8561 3563.

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