Islands in the Mainstream

Ever since a pizza oven became part of my family, unsurprisingly, I’ve become a bandit for perfecting the vegan pizza. I’m obsessive about the sauce, the toppings, the cheese, every part of it, and love setting up my pop up pizza kitchen and smashing out pie after pie. For me, pizza has to involve cheese, and it is deeply gratifying to be able to now buy vegan cheeses that have high level meltability, replicating the stretch and mouthfeel of mozzarella.

I got a phone call this week from the mega awesome Melanie Tait, foodie and radio host of ABC Tasmania’s Evening (and sometimes Drive) shows. Mel wanted to get my soundbites on Dominos new vegan pizza range, launched across Australia this week.

Say wha? Before I had hung up I’d tapped out an order online (clearly I couldn’t comment without sampling, wouldn’t be right.) There it was, in living colour, a Dominos vegan option, well three actually, also all available with a gluten free crust. Now let’s be clear. Pizza, not a health food. A convenience food. And if every day is convenient, not going to have amazing health outcomes. So, taking as read that this is not the stairway to a six pack, I’m quietly celebrating the mainstreaming of plant based foods.

Mel’s main question to me was about whether veganism had gone mainstream. When we talk about mainstream it always sounds like its bad, like it’s a sellout. Personally, the more plant based foods are not associated with marginalised diets, and are a valid choice for consumers, the better it is. When a company the scale of Dominos puts a pizza into the market, you can be dang sure that there is sufficient demand or the prospect of that demand.

They are a consumer whale shark, and from their market dominance will come all of the niche variables, so you will hopefully start to see vegan cheese options popping up in your local pizza shop, with a less commodity manufacture, and more care and love and consciousness. The other bonus is that with big players buying vegan ingredients like cheese and protein toppings, the industry can expand, and become more diverse and sustainable, again enabling a range of new entrants on the back of a larger on paving the way.

But back to the pizza. Frankly, it was delicious. For a Dominos pizza, I couldn’t fault it, and I made my co-workers who weren’t vegan have some too, and they all loved it. I even let some get cold just so I could make sure that it was going to be a morning after player. Yep. Still tasty.

I know that Dominos has mixed reviews in terms of their corporate practices. And many vegans will not be comfortable having their food prepared with such a range of meat and animal based cross contamination ops nearby, which is fair enough. That is the joy of choice, and for those who have a late night emergency which only pizza can fix, it is comforting to know that those choices extend to vegan pizza!

Polly McGeevegan, pizza