A Sydney cafe owner has said she was called a “murderer” and a “rapist” when she put bacon on the menu of her cafe which had been purely vegan.
Natalie Yiannakopoulos has claimed she is a victim of “vegan vigilantes” who have flooded social media with scathing attacks on her family’s business and posted one-star reviews – even from people who have never visited the cafe.
But Ms Yiannakopoulos said the only reason she was forced to reintroduce meat was because there weren’t enough vegans to keep the cafe afloat.
“What’s sad to me is that we did try; we actually tried to do something positive. And we’re getting so much backlash from that,” she told Channel 9’s A Current Affair.
Yiayia’s Garden cafe in Haberfield, Sydney. Picture: Channel 9/ACA.
The Yiannakopoulos family run Yiayia’s Garden cafe in the Sydney inner west suburb of Haberfield.
It sits on a crowded cafe strip with one of Sydney’s most Instagram famous new cafes – Happyfield – just doors away.
Yiayias’ Garden was the pride and joy of mum Fay. But when the early hours and on your feet all day work became too much for her, she asked daughter Natalie to help out.
The younger Yiannakopoulos was trying to go vegan so with her mum’s blessing she made a radical change to the menu, scrapping all the meat products for veggies.
It was bye, bye bacon and egg rolls and hello hummus and mushroom toast.
Almost instantly, custom plummeted. People even stopped coming in for coffee.
Natalie Yiannakopoulos said vegans insulted her online. Channel 9/ACA.
“During the week when you’re relying more on locals, it was dead,” said Ms Yiannakopoulos.
“We couldn’t pay any wages and the cafe itself had been running at a loss for at least six months.”
There became no point opening the cafe before 10am because customers hungry for breakfast simply weren’t dropping by.
Reluctantly, she recently put animal products back on the menu. But in a compromise she ensured her bacon, eggs and other items were of higher animal welfare standards. And the most popular vegan options are also still available.
Within half an hour, Ms Yiannakopoulos said, of announcing the bacon comeback on Facebook – including on a vegan page she was a member of – she was slammed with “hundreds of posts”.
“I was called a liar and everything I’ve ever said was fake.
“That I never cared about the animals and I sell my soul for money.”
Meat options are back on the menu alongside vegan choice. Channel 9/ACA.The bacon is higher quality, the family say. Channel 9/ACA.
Some even accused Ms Yiannakopoulos of never truly being a vegan and swerving away from meat as “free” publicity for the business.
“It was tough and following on from that to have lots of one star reviews,” she said.
Comments online said that there was no such thing as ethical farming and slaughter and that she had harmed animals for profit.
But the Yiannakopoulos’ say they would have lost the family firm if the business stayed 100 per cent vegan.
Mum Fay said the whole backlash, especially as they had given a vegan only menu a red hot go, was “very upsetting”.
“It made me really angry that people could be so awful.”
The family has said the insults have been “upsetting”. Channel 9/ACA.
The vitriol has even continued on A Current Affair’s Facebook post about the story.
“You throw your beliefs and moral compass out the window for money to buy a living?” said one.
“Does a living, breathing, sentient animal that is abused and tortured on a huge scale have a choice?” said another in all capital letters.
“One day you will look back at yourself in disgust of how cruel and mean you were to animals”.
But others have been more supportive.
“I’d rather have vegan options, and good ones, than none at all,” said a customer.
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“Shouldn’t vegans respect other’s choices???”
Ms Yiannakopoulos said she has now given up veganism.
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