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  • Writer's pictureAround the World in Vegan Eats


Updated: May 4, 2023

Welcome to Melbourne, and our very first blog from Australia! We were so excited to set foot in Aus, I had been dreaming of visiting the country since I was 18 years old, so at 28 this trip was well overdue! From the moment we arrived we felt inspired: arts, sport and culture were all around us, and I'm sure you'll believe us when I tell you that we were beyond excited to try some Aussie food! There were so many legendary dishes that we were excited to try in their plant-based forms - and the first of these, was the Aussie parma (or parmy, if you're outside of Melbourne!)

So tell us, what exactly is parma?

Parm, parma, parmo or parmy are all nicknames for one dish: chicken parmigiana. This is technically an Italian-inspired dish, but it has been adapted and made its way into the heart of Australian cuisine. Variations of this dish are actually served worldwide, but are noticeably different to the Aussie version.

In Italy, a parmigiana is traditionally aubergine or eggplant, topped with cheese and served with a rich tomato sauce and spaghetti. The American variant bridges the gap between the traditional Italian and the modern Aussie, with a breaded chicken fillet, topped with tomato sauce and cheese, and served with spaghetti.

In Australian pubs, restaurants and eateries, though, if you order a parma you'll be receiving a breaded chicken fillet, topped with a rich tomato sauce and melted cheese, with a generous helping of fries on the side. Some versions include some ham as a topping, too. First eaten here in the 1980s, this dish has quickly become a favourite among locals and tourists alike. Obviously we wanted to try it, so we made it our mission to hunt down a plant-based parma.

Where did we try vegan parma in Melbourne?

We were keen to find an affordable, plant-based parma that was accessible for as many of you visiting Australia as possible, so we headed to Schnitz. Originally founded in Melbourne, this restaurant chain now has restaurants across Australia, so you can get your hands on their plant-based parma wherever you're heading. There's even twenty branches in Melbourne alone!

Schnitz offer a wide range of schnitzel-based meals, from the parma to wraps and salads. Served in a casual diner-style setting, the meals are very mix and match. You have a choice between types of schnitzel base, sauces, and accompaniments with offers and deals too. They serve meat, vegetarian, and vegan dishes so there really is something for everyone.

Obviously we chose the parma and chips from their menu, to get that authentic meal! We requested the veggie schnitzel, which comes topped with the traditional Napoli sauce, and then we asked for the regular cheese to be swapped for their vegan variant. Many of the sauces that you can choose from on the side are vegan too: perfect for dipping those chips!

So come on - tell us all about the parma! How did it taste?

Our vegan parma and chips were served quickly, and we were pleased with the portion size. It was definitely enough to fill us up! However, the presentation really let this dish down. It didn't look entirely as we had expected: particularly since the vegan cheese that we had requested was a slice that had been placed on top of the schnitzel. I was pleased that they had the vegan cheese, but it didn't look great: traditionally this would be grated cheese so it would fit to the shape of the schnitzel much better, making it look so much more appealing. It would be nice to see Schnitz switch to some plant-based grated cheese in the future.

Taste-wise, the parma again wasn't entirely what we expected. The breadcrumbs were especially crunchy and delicious, adding a lot of extra flavour to the dish. Mike really enjoyed the schnitzel itself, though I wasn't really a fan. I would have preferred a mock-chicken, which is abundant across Australia, and I would have expected a brand of their stature to be able to afford it. Instead, this patty was vegetable based, and tasted like the vegetable fingers that we had growing up in the 90s. Not bad, just a little retro for my taste. As I said though, Mike enjoyed it, so this is down to individual tastes. The Napoli sauce was really tangy and delicious, it added a nice bit of extra flavour to the dish.

So altogether this was an easy, accessible and reasonably cheap way to obtain a vegan version of parma, though there are better ones available in Melbourne. If you want a real vegan dupe for parma, you'll want to find one that is made of a plant-based 'chicken' fillet, with grated vegan cheese - but if you are happy with a similar, convenient take on this dish then Schnitz might be exactly what you're looking for. For the most authentic plant-based parma, in a fun setting, we recommend the one at the Cornish Arms which we tried later on in our Melbourne Trip. This vegan parma was everything we were looking for: a thick mock chicken patty, lots of Napoli sauce, a heap of melted, grated vegan cheese and loads of tasty homemade chips. They even have rotating offers depending on the day of the week that you visit. Be sure to check them out!

How much did this plant-based parma cost - and was it worth it?

Schnitz's vegan parma cost AU$15.90 per portion. This is approximately £8.56, €9.59 or $10.64. Prices are fairly high in Australia, so this wasn't too expensive. However, as I mentioned before, for this price I would have liked to have had the option of plant-based chicken, rather than just a veggie patty, and grated vegan cheese too. With the deals that they offer, though - in particular if you're eating as a family - this is a relatively cost effective way of getting a plant-based taste of Aussie Parma.

Schnitz have many restaurants across Australia, with 20 branches scattered across Melbourne alone.

Have you tried vegan parma in Australia? Or elsewhere in the world! Where did you go and what did you think of it? Let us know in the comments below.


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The centre of Vienna with tall, historic buildings all around
Melbourne is such a stunning city!

Where should I stay?

There's lots of places to stay in Melbourne, but because it is such a popular and cultural city, this comes at a price. We love the look of Space Hotel, Melbourne, where you can choose between private and dorm rooms. There's even a gym and a cinema!

Tours & Experiences

There's so much to do and see in Melbourne, with markets, sports, arts and culture around every corner. If you want to go a little further afield to check out some more of Australia's astounding natural beauty though, why not try this highly-rated Grampians National Park tour? Or, if that's not for you, check out some of the top-rated Viator tours below!

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