Dreya Bakes: Vegan baked sweets with an unexpected Serbian history
Very few people would associate the word ‘vegan’ with ‘dessert’ but that was exactly what Serbian-Australian chef and baker Andreya Lukic wanted to do with her Parramatta-based business ‘Dreya Bakes’.
Growing up in a large Serbian family, Andreya was accustomed to having meat with almost every dish and admits it was difficult to make the change into vegetarianism and later veganism.
She says it was hard for her and her family to adjust to, particularly her grandparents, who didn’t understand why she wanted to stop eating meat in a culture where meals are so heavily meat based.
“Every Easter and Christmas we spend lunch at one grandparent’s house and then dinner at the other,” Andreya says, “It was always about what meat we are having and it would be roasting on the spit, usually pork or lamb or something [and] I just remember that was always the centrepiece of any celebration and everything else seemed to be just an accompaniment.”
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Andreya has fond memories of making and eating Pita, a traditional Serbian food made of pastry and usually filled with cheese. As a vegan, Andreya has tried a few variations for this dish, substituting the cheese filling with everything from cabbage and spinach to apple. She believes there are always ways to make things vegan and move away from the norm.
“Instead of saying I can’t eat this or can’t eat that, I just ‘veganised’ it,” Andreya says, “especially with the cakes I have made, you might go to someone’s house as a vegan and they might prepare you something, which is always very kind of them, but there’s usually never any desserts… they usually think that as a vegan you can’t have dessert [but] then I bring something and they see that you can, and you can ‘veganise’ almost anything.”
‘Dreya Bakes’, which began with Andreya baking recreationally at home for family and friends, quickly grew, with friends and family suggesting Andreya make public Instagram and Facebook accounts.
“Messages started coming in, even from people I didn’t know, or people I had lost touch with, and it was really sweet to have all that support,” Andreya says.
Andreya hopes that the business continues to show people the diversity of veganism.
“It has been really great showing others that vegan food can taste nice and doesn’t have to be something boring [that tastes] like grass,” Andreya says, “My goal is to show that veganism isn’t boring.”