As someone who recently became a vegetarian, I am curious to see how my new life choice will affect my travels. Since my only experience has been India, where it was simple to adapt to this new lifestyle, I have no idea what it will be like anywhere else, especially because I used to eat just about everything. Recently, Jess from Tipelio, contacted me about a guest post and I was excited to learn that she wanted to write about eating vegan in Russia. As someone who has yet to visit Russia, I am excited about getting a few tips so that I can stick to this diet even while traveling, no matter where in the world I end up.
Russian cuisine is typically not the most vegetarian — let alone vegan — friendly cuisine, but that’s not to say that it can’t be done. Russia is a fascinating country — the largest in the world — and home to many unique wonders of culture. It has an environment unlike anywhere else in the world. If you want to forego the meaty pelmeni or borscht that are staples of the Russian cuisine, no problem! Here are some options:
Check the Supermarkets
Especially in the major cities, Russia is catering more and more to an expat crowd. This means that you can often find things such as soymilk, spinach or kale patties, and other things at the larger supermarkets. Your options are going to be much better here than at restaurants. See what you can find, and stock up on your favorites. If you can find better options at a restaurant, go for it, but know that if you can’t, you’ve always got something waiting for you back at the hotel.
Stick to the Cities
It’s sad to have to say this, but if you’re looking to eat vegan in Russia, you’re probably better off sticking to the cities. This isn’t just because the cities are more progressive than the countryside. Instead, meat is cheaper than many vegan alternatives, so you’ll often find that in the countryside, vegan options are nonexistent out of local necessity. It’s not that they have anything against a vegan lifestyle, but to keep their restaurants in business, they might not be able to offer any alternatives to normal Russian foods. You can always try asking for vegan food at a non-vegan restaurant, but don’t get upset if they can’t help you! Again, try to have something on hand or nearby you can eat in case you find yourself out of luck.
Explore “Dairy” Alternatives
Russian cuisine is typically big on two things: meat and dairy. Try pirozhki or bliny, which sometimes have dairy products as part of the dough but are often made with flour and water and some sort of filling—such as cabbage, potatoes or mushrooms. You may also find a meatless borscht. A lot of times, the beef is added into the stew later. Vegans exist all over the world, so if you notice one, don’t be shy about asking them how they get by.
Seek out Vegetarian and Vegan Restaurants
Depending on where you are, you might be able to find some vegan restaurants if you do a little research. In Moscow, there are plenty of options for the vegan traveler. Look for online tools that will show you vegan and vegetarian restaurants in whatever new city you are exploring. Just make sure to download a Virtual Private Network (VPN) on your smartphone first, which will ensure your personal travel information stays safe from hackers while you use the city’s public networks to find information. It will even allow you to watch Netflix during your downtime.
Try International Cuisines
In bigger cities such as Moscow or St. Petersburg, you should also be able to find plenty of international restaurants, and you’ll find that many of these places will offer vegetarian options. Particularly popular are Japanese restaurants, where you’ll be able to find things such as avocado rolls, vegetarian fried rice and more. Just because you’re in Russia doesn’t mean you have to stick to Russian cuisine!
There are always options available to you, even if you have to think outside the box. Being a vegan doesn’t need to affect your trip negatively. It can even expand your horizons and get you to explore places you wouldn’t otherwise think of! Do you have suggestions for vegans thinking of travelling to Russia? Is there some place you just have to let people know about? If so, please leave a comment below and share your knowledge.