I enjoy food. I really do. So it puzzles me when I hear about people not eating mean or eggs, or milk. But never say never. Because here is Dimitra, serving the most delicious dishes in town, all vegan. It’s amazing, I am telling you. It is amazing how a burger can still taste as good even with no meat in it. It is amazing how a cheesecake can make people go crazy over it, without any cheese. Can you imagine? Dimitra sure can. Here she is, Dimitra Shanahan, showing me around her restaurant and super amazing beer collection at Volume 10.
Have you always been a vegan?
No, just the past seven years.
What made you become one?
I started out as a vegetarian. I had a cat back then, I still do actually, and he got sick. We tried out 4 or 5 different vets, and they all told me my cat would dye. I got depressed and sad for my cat and then I started thinking of what all animals go through. End of story, I found this great vet who cured my cat, but my worries and compassion for all animals never left me. I decided to become a vegetarian and after a while I became vegan.
So you are never tempted to try a cake that has butter and eggs?
No, not really.
And do you get along fine with non vegans?
Oh, yes totally. My husband is no vegan. When we go out he orders his steak, and I am fine with that. Whatever works for you.
Is it hard to find the ingredients you use in your kitchen and your restaurant?
Not at all. We make a lot of stuff on our own, like cream cheese or feta cheese, almond milk… things like that.
What made you get involved into cooking in the first place?
Oh I have always loved cooking. When I became vegan I had to get even more involved in the kitchen to produce my vegan meals. Then came the blog, where I started sharing all my cooking adventures. It quickly became a big success. I was also invited by New Guinea to teach vegan cooking classes for two years.
And then came the restaurant?
Pretty much. Yes. At first my husband and I thought we would just open a bar. But then it dawned on me that there are no vegan restaurants in Athens. There are some vegetarian places that serve vegan dishes, but strictly vegan is not an option. That’s when I jumped in with Volume 10.
So what is it that you serve here?
An alternative menu. Most people that come here are not vegan. Not even vegetarian. We have the classics turned vegan, like souvlaki, or pasta Bolognese, meatballs and burgers.
I am guessing vegan is a very healthy kitchen!
Yes it is. And I have to add that we don’t use sugar at all. We are using a syrup called agave, which comes from a cactus plant. It’s the same ingredient that you use to make tequila, but we use it as a natural sweetener.
Which would be your favorite spices to use while cooking?
Cumin, turmeric, smoked paprika, and black salt.
Where do you eat, when you are not cooking at home or here at Volume 10?
Many places. I love Avocado downtown, Rosebud is also nice. I love Mexican cuisine and Pasta Macaroni in Argyroupoli.
Ok, let’s get back to what you’ve got going on here. So Volume 10 is actually 3 spaces. You have the vegan restaurant and the bar specializing in beers and also the event space. How come you focused on beer?
We wanted to do something different. Around here you get a lot of bars, but not many pubs and that was something worth taking advantage of. And also, we are big fans of beer. And you don’t find that many when you go out. We import more than 100 labels.
And your event space?
Our event space is for gigs. Bands come talk to us and book the space. We had a stand up comedy show just some days ago. And we also get a lot of requests from companies, who want to hold their events in our space.
I have to ask, how do you see what you serve here evolving in the future?
I want to focus on raw food. It’s a big thing lately and I want to try it. I have been thinking about Portobello burgers and zucchini spaghetti. We’ll see.
A few comments on the things pictured and said above:
Dimitra has some pretty amazing stories to share. Firstly, she met her husband at a Guns N’ Roses concert. In London. He flew over from the States. She came from Greece. It was love at first sight. / She also is the first bride to plan her whole wedding online. She didn’t even set foot on a store or bakery. Everything ordered online. / Her cheesecake has a reputation of its own. The night before our photo shoot, a guy walked in ImroV and bought 8 pieces of cheesecake to go. Some say it tastes better than the non vegan version. / Dimitra is very fond of cats. She has made lots of friends in the neighborhood and they come for food and love when the restaurant is open.