Australia’s Gold Coast sees over one million international visitors a year. Last year, the popular beach and tourist hotspot weighed up their Best of the Gold Coast 2017, including a Top 10 Burgers category and the winner may surprise you. In a contest dominated by beef patties, bacon rashers and dairy cheese, the meal dubbed the Best Burger in the Gold Coast just so happened to be entirely vegan.

The burger belongs to Feed the Earthlings, a 100% vegan store featuring plant-based hot dogs, vegan fish and chips, chick’n burgers and pizzas. Owner and entrepreneur Teaki Page says that Feed the Earthlings is for vegans and nonvegans alike. In fact, she previously told the Gold Coast Bulletin:

“We get customers who get lost in traffic sometimes and come in not realising we’re vegan,” she said. “We say, ‘Just give it a go and if you don’t like it we’ll give you your money back’ but we’ve never had to give anyone their money back”.

Now with a growing string of stores in Queensland, Teaki revealed to LIVEKINDLY that the business didn’t begin as a vegan pursuit. “I don’t think I even knew what vegan was at the time”, Teaki admitted, until a customer visited their then-pizza store in Brisbane requesting a pizza without cheese.

That’s where Teaki’s “marketing and business mind” switched into gear. She revealed that the project started as an economic one; she saw profit in catering for vegans, a market that, in her eyes, was growing and would continue to grow.

“I have never wanted to be in business in any kind of fad or trend. If I didn’t believe that [veganism] was an actual movement, I wouldn’t be in it. I wouldn’t be putting everything into it”.

Inspired by their customers, Teaki and her family made the decision to ditch meat and dairy themselves and opened an entirely vegan store selling ‘classic Aussie takeaway’. Teaki explained that having delicious, cruelty-free takeaway options is important because “that’s what’s gonna get other people on board. No one learns anything from deprivation”.

“I was told by everyone, ‘that’s a stupid idea, you’ve got your head in the clouds, you’re gonna go broke’… But they came. And they loved it. And they supported us”.

Fast forward two and a half years and the family are now opening their fourth store. According to Teaki, Feed the Earthlings has helped many people go vegan already, specifically meat-eaters who had trouble letting go of some foods.

Teaki credits the customers for the success of Feed the Earthlings, as well as the “bigger picture”– the growth of the entire vegan movement. She explains that vegans “should feel a sense of pride. The whole vegan community has done this. We’ve all made it to this point together”, an idea that is reflected in a vegan burger winning out over conventional meat burgers.

It’s so exciting to be a part of it, this is only the beginning”.

Image Credit: Feed the Earthlings