Where to Find Vegan Food in Russia

Vegan Russian Food - A Guide to Eating Vegan in Russia

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How to Be Vegan in Russia

This article was originally published in September 2015 as an interview with Victoria Logunova, a vegan Russian food blogger, about what it's like to be a vegan in Russia.

Back then, vegetarian food in any form was an oddity in Russia, not to mention vegan food. But I’m pleased to report that a lot has changed in the past few years!

I’ve left my interview with Victoria here for you to read, as it includes some insights and useful tips that still apply today.

But be sure to keep reading to the bottom of the page, where I’ve added my own tips and recommendations based on my experience traveling across Russia on the Trans-Mongolian railway as a vegan in 2019. Spoiler alert: it was much easier and tastier than I expected!


Interview with a Vegan Russian Food Blogger (2015)

I'm really excited to introduce you to Victoria Logunova! She lives in Moscow, Russia, where she runs a vegan food blog and a pop-up vegan café.

Apart from a couple of long and unpleasant layovers in the Moscow airport, I've not yet had the chance to go to Russia myself. I've been really curious about what it would be like to travel there as a vegan, so when I came across Victoria's blog I couldn't pass up the opportunity to ask her all about the vegan movement in Russia. Here's what she had to say!

Q: What is it like to be a vegan in Russia in 2015?

A: I would say it’s quite challenging. Russian society is not responsive to new ideas, and sometimes you feel like an alien. Most people in Russia think that veganism is something dangerous for your health.

Or that if you are vegan, you are a member of some kind of cult. As a result, usually parents don’t support their children to go vegetarian or especially vegan. And this leads to conflicts and misunderstandings.

Sometimes it’s not easy. But hey, we are the first generation of vegans in Russia, and we can see the positive changes every day. I think it’s amazing!

The Hermitage in St. Petersburg Russia

The beautiful Winter Palace, now the home of the Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg.

​Q: Have you noticed any changes in recent years, like more vegetarian restaurants opening up or more vegan products becoming available?

A: The vegan movement in Russia is still very young, but it's growing really fast. In the beginning of 2013, the China Study book was published in the Russian language and made lots of people reconsider their eating habits in favour of a plant-based diet.

These days more and more people realize that eating vegan is healthy and natural. I can say that in the last couple of years, the number of vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Moscow has almost doubled.

And yes, more locally-produced vegan products (like plant milks, cheese, nut butters etc.) have become available too. This summer the first (and very successful) vegan festival and several vegetarian food markets were held in Moscow.

For comparison, last year there weren't any. Animal rights activism is also developing pretty well.

"Traditionally, Russian cuisine is very vegan friendly." ~ @vegelicacy

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Q: Can you recommend any Russian dishes that are naturally vegan or can be easily veganized?​

A: Well, traditionally Russian cuisine is very vegan friendly. In the past, Russian peasants were mostly plant eaters, as they could not afford to eat meat often. Instead, they ate lots of grains, root vegetables, mushrooms, fruits and berries.

But the Soviet times changed many traditions, including the cuisine. After the Second World War, the Soviet leaders followed the idea that people should eat meat every day to be strong and healthy, and tried to catch up with the US in meat consumption. The meat-eating propaganda was very powerful, and it’s still working.

To answer the question, yes, most Russian dishes can be easily veganized. You can check out my blog post with Russian vegan recipes.

Happy Vegan Moscow - outside

Happy Vegan, an underground vegan store in Moscow.

Q: I've read that, during fasting periods established by the Russian Orthodox Church, some believers abstain from certain animal products. Can you tell us more about that? Would you recommend that vegan travellers time their visit to coincide with fasting periods?

A: That’s true. During the fasting periods Orthodox Christians should avoid eating all animal products; however, on some days fish is allowed.

In fact, there are more than 130 days of the year when believers should observe various fasts. For example, every Wednesday and Friday is a fasting day. But in practice there is only one fasting period which is observed by the majority of religious people.

It’s the longest 40-day fast before Easter. It’s usually observed in the beginning of spring; the exact dates should be checked with the Orthodox fasting calendar.

During this period, most regular restaurants have a special menu for those who keep the fast (постное меню, pronounced as postno-ye me-nyu). So, it becomes quite easy to find vegan food.

You just need to make sure that the dish is free of fish and other seafood of animal origin. Travelling to Russia during the fast makes sense if you plan to visit smaller cities besides Moscow and St. Petersburg. If not, then don’t worry, you will not go hungry.

Cathedral Square Moscow Kremlin

Cathedral Square inside the Kremlin in Moscow

Q: There is a commonly-believed stereotype about Russia that people who work in the service industry there are not very friendly or helpful. In your experience, are restaurant staff willing to accommodate vegan diners' needs?

A: Yes, unfortunately it’s true. It’s a part of Soviet heritage. These days the situation is slowly changing. Restaurant owners are trying to train their staff to be friendlier and more customer-oriented. Not always successfully though. However, in my experience people in vegetarian places are usually attentive and nice.

I am afraid that in a regular restaurant it will be very difficult to explain your dietary needs if you don’t speak Russian. And even if you do, in most cases you will be suggested to eat a salad. So, just find a vegetarian restaurant, all of them have vegan options.

Q: For travellers who want to self-cater, what types of food can they expect to find in a typical supermarket?

Well, of course in the supermarkets you will easily find lots of vegetables, fruits, nuts, grains and legumes. Here are the staples: potato, carrot, cabbage, beetroot, roasted buckwheat, barley, salted cucumbers, sauerkraut and all kinds of jams.

Rye bread is always vegan. Such vegan food as tofu, non-dairy milk and mock meat is not very common.

Here are some vegan foods you can buy in Russian supermarkets:

- Кабачковая Икра [kabach-kovaya ikra] - delicious squash puree, always vegan. It can be found in any food store. Search for vibrant orange-color paste in a jar. It's very good on a slice of bread for breakfast.

Kabachkovaya Ikra - vegan food in Russia

Kabachkovaya Ikra

- Квас [kvas] – a Russian fermented rye bread drink. Sometimes it’s called Russian Cola, but it's much healthier than Cola. I highly recommend that you try it.

Kvas Drink - vegan food in Russia

Kvas

- In the section with semi-prepared food you may find vegan вареники [va-reniki] dumplings with fruits and vegetables and veggie patties. You should look for the word “Постный” on the packaging.

Vareniki dumplings - vegan food in Russia

Vareniki Dumplings

- Chocolate candies Мишка косолапый [Mishka Koso-lapyi] are very popular in Russia. They are 100% vegan. These sweets can be found in most supermarkets and duty free shops as well.

Mishka Koso-lapyi candies - vegan food in Russia

Mishka Koso-lapyi Candies

Q: Can you give us a few helpful words and phrases in Russian for vegan travellers?

Useful Russian Words and Phrases

English

Russian

Pronunciation

Excuse me

Извините

izvi-nitye

Do you speak English?

Говорите ли вы по английски?

govo-ritye li vi po-ang-liyski?

Yes/No

Да / Нет

da / nyet

I would like to see the menu, please.

Можно мне меню, пожалуйста

moʐno mnye mye-nyo, po-ʐalooysta

fasting menu

постное меню

postno-ye me-nyu

I'm vegan.

я веган

ya vyegan

We are vegans.

мы веганы

mi vyegani

I don’t eat any meat, milk, cheese, cream, sourcream, butter, eggs or honey

я не ем мясо, молоко, сыр, сливки, сметану, сливочное масло, яйца и мед

ya nye yem myaso, molo-ko, sir, slivki, sme-tanu, slivochnoe maslo, yatsa i myod

Do you have vegan options?

у вас есть что-нибудь для веганов?

u vas est chto ni-bud dlya veganof?

Can you point out which dishes are vegan (no eggs, milk, cheese or honey)?

Покажите, пожалуйста, какие блюда подходят для веганов (без яиц, молока, сыра и меда)?

Poka-ʐitye, po-ʐalooysta, ka-kiye blyuda pod-khodyat dlya vyeganov (byez ya-itz, molo-ka, sira i myoda)?

I don't eat meat.

Я не ем мяса.

ya nye yem myasa

We don't eat meat.

Мы не едим мяса.

mi nye ye-dim myasa

I don't eat eggs.

Я не ем яйца.

ya nye yem yaytza

I don't drink milk.

Мне нельзя молоко.

mnye nyel-zya molo-ko

I don't eat cheese.

Я не ем сыр.

ya nye yem sir

I don't eat fish

Я не ем рыбу.

ya nye yem ribu

I don't eat honey.

Я не ем мед.

ya nye yem myod

without milk, butter/cream or cheese.

Без молока, сливок, сливочного масла и сыра

byez molo-ka, slivok, slivochnogo masla i sira

I'll have...

Мне пожалуйста…

mnye po-ʐalooysta…

I would like...

Я бы хотел…

ya bi kho-tyel…

The food is delicious!

Очень вкусно

ochyen vkoosno

The bill, please.

Счет, пожалуйста

schyot po-ʐalooysta

Tip

Чаевые

chaye-viye

Thank you!

Спасибо

spa-sibo

Note: The word веган (vegan) will be understood by staff in vegetarian restaurants, but not necessarily by the wider public.

Q: Is there anything else you would like to tell vegans who are thinking about visiting Russia?

A: Russian people look gloomy and unfriendly, but don’t be afraid to ask for help. Russians love foreigners, and even if they don’t speak English, they will do their best to help you.

Try your luck with young people; they are more likely to speak English. If you come to Moscow, check out my Moscow vegetarian & vegan guide. Also, feel free to contact me; I will be happy to answer any questions.


Where to Eat Vegan in St. Petersburg

vegan sushi at Healthy Conscience - a Russian vegan restaurant

Vegan sushi at Healthy Conscience in St. Petersburg

Out of all the cities in Russia, St. Petersburg is the one with the strongest vegan movement of all. You can have quite a range of vegan dining experiences here, from punk burger stands to cozy cafés.

And more vegan restaurants keep popping up all the time. I’ve just checked HappyCow, and I see that several new places have opened since my visit just a few months ago! St. Petersburg now has a fully vegan Mexican eatery and a fully vegan Georgian restaurant, in addition to sushi, Indian, Russian and other cuisines.

The raw food movement is very popular in Russia, so you will often find quite a few raw options in Russian vegetarian and vegan restaurants.

In the future, I hope to publish separate posts on vegan food in St. Petersburg and vegan food in Moscow. But for now, here are a few of my favorite vegan and vegan-friendly eateries in the city.

Healthy Conscience

Delicious and creative sushi, and it’s 100% vegan! No English menu, but the staff can help translate, and it’s very affordable. Try the Philadelphia, California and Udzumaki rolls.

Мир

A mix of Russian and international dishes, all of which have been veganized. A bit hard to find, but worth seeking out. The menu is in English, even though the sign outside is not.

Café Ukrop

Vegetarian café with oversized swings that you can sit in while you eat. The food is good, though portions run on the small side. Check the weight of the dish, which is listed on the menu in grams.

Prana Bar

Vegetarian herring in a fur coat at Prana Bar

A veganized version of "herring in a fur coat", a popular Russian dish

This vegetarian restaurant offers lots of vegan and raw food options. It’s the best place to come for veganized versions of traditional Russian dishes.

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Another one that’s hard to find (a recurring theme in Russia), this is quite literally a hole in the wall inside the Etazhi Loft Project cultural center. The burgers here are awesome, and you can choose a patty made from falafel, tofu, seitan or tempeh.

Where to Eat Vegan in Moscow

Vegan lasagna in a punk rock setting at Veganga Russian vegan restaurant

Vegan lasagna surrounded by street art at Veganga

While St. Petersburg has been spearheading the Russian vegan scene for a while now, Moscow is quickly catching up. 

At last count, both cities had roughly the same number of fully vegan eateries (about 20 each). Of course, Moscow is more than twice the size of St. Petersburg, so per capita it still has fewer options.

Avocado

An excellent vegetarian restaurant with vegan and raw options marked on the menu. Good range of Russian and international dishes, and a pleasant outdoor seating area.

Fresh

The focus here is on healthy food, with lots of bowls and salads, although they also do burgers. Most menu items are vegan or can be veganized, although the labeling on the menu is not so clear.

Falafel Bro

Falafel wraps at Falafel Bro in Moscow

Falafel wraps at Falafel Bro in Moscow

When Victoria Logunova was interviewed for the original version of this article in 2015, she was primarily known as a vegan food blogger. Since then, she and her husband have opened this fully vegan falafel joint!

In addition to their falafel wraps, which come in creative flavors, they also serve burgers, sandwiches, milkshakes and desserts. And don’t miss their sweet potato fries!

Natakhtari

This was among the best of the Georgian restaurants we tried during our Russia trip. It serves lots of vegan Georgian classic dishes like lobio and pkhali, as well as something called Mushroom Chashushuli (Чашушули из грибов), which was amazing!

Veganga

The unmarked entrance to Veganga

The unmarked entrance to Veganga

This fully vegan eatery is located inside a funky, artsy complex that’s filled with aviator-themed street art. It’s a bit tricky to find, as there’s no sign, just a door covered in a street art mural. 

It’s a quirky local place that’s worth visiting just for the experience, even if the food can be hit or miss. I enjoyed the lasagna, which was very meaty, but avoid the “nachos”, which are just tortilla chips with ketchup and mustard.

Ugol (Угол)

This place has a vibe similar to that of Veganga and is also located inside an alternative artsy complex. If you’re on a tight budget and looking for a fully vegan eatery, either of these local punkish places could be good options.

But don’t be fooled by the “crazy shake”. Underneath all the whipped cream and chocolate sauce, it’s not a shake but a hot coffee with milk!

Sok Café

This vegetarian restaurant has a large menu with plenty of vegan and raw food options. The food was delicious, and the atmosphere was very pleasant. 

I recommend the vegetables baked in foil and the fried eggplant dish with tofu and tomato sauce. Good homemade lemonades too.

Flora no Fauna

This is a fully vegan food court stall inside the central market. It offers tasty, healthy dishes such as baked sweet potatoes and a superfood salad.

Vegan Russia Travel Tips

A vegan version of a Napoleon cake, available at Fresh in Moscow

A vegan version of a Napoleon cake, available at Fresh in Moscow

So we’ve established that Moscow and St. Petersburg have plenty of vegan options, but what about elsewhere in Russia? The truth is, traveling in Russia as a vegan was a lot easier than I thought it would be.

Here are my top tips for finding vegan food no matter where you are in Russia.

Find Restaurants Via HappyCow + Apple Maps

We found this veggie burger in the small city of Vladimir thanks to HappyCow

We found this veggie burger in the small city of Vladimir thanks to HappyCow

Even in second-tier or third-tier Russian cities, you will often find at least one vegetarian or vegan restaurant. 

Be sure to download the HappyCow app if you haven’t already. It’s the best global directory of vegan restaurants, vegetarian restaurants and veg-friendly restaurants, and it’s how I discovered more than half of the places where I ate during my month-long Russia trip.

Be aware, though, that the maps in HappyCow are powered by Google Maps, which tends to be unreliable in Russia. Even though Google is not blocked here like it is in China, most Russians don’t use it.

Instead, they use Yandex, a local company that’s like Google, Uber, Uber Eats and much more all rolled into one. Apple Maps has some kind of collaboration with Yandex and therefore tends to be more accurate than Google.

If you don’t have an Apple device, you could try Maps.Me instead, but I haven’t personally used it in Russia.

Here are a few examples of veg and veg-friendly restaurants I found in Russia thanks to HappyCow and Apple Maps:

Vladimir 

Veggie Bro, a small and inexpensive vegan restaurant specializing in burgers, they also have a changing daily menu

Nizhny Novgorod
Falafel and hummus are pretty common vegan foods in Russia

Falafel and hummus on a rainy day in Nizhny Novgorod

Noot Falafel Café, a mostly vegetarian eatery with vegan options clearly marked. The falafel with fried eggplant is great! Ask for the English menu.

Салют (Salyut), a burger place that has a vegan burger made of tofu, which you can eat while sitting on the patio facing the park. The ordering system is a bit confusing, but the burger and fries are worth it!

Kazan

Kazan has a great selection of vegan-friendly eateries, including fully vegan cafés, a Georgian restaurant, a doner and falafel restaurant, and a traditional Russian stolovoaya (canteen) that’s fully vegetarian.

For in-depth reviews of these places, see my guide to the Kazan Kremlin and other things to do in Kazan.

Yekaterinburg
Lyublyu e Blagodaryu in Yekaterinburg

Lyublyu e Blagodaryu, a very upscale stolovaya in Yekaterinburg

Rada Café is a vegetarian restaurant that’s set up as a stolovaya but is much more pleasant than most eateries of this type.

Lyublyu e Blagodaryu is run by the same owner as Rada Café and has a similar setup, but an even more upscale ambience. Some menu items are the same as at Rada, but the hot dishes are different.

Khmeli Suneli is a beautifully decorated Georgian restaurant with an English menu. Try the tarragon lemonade!

Viet Mon is a fast casual Vietnamese chain with more than one location in Yekaterinburg. There’s no English menu, but there's a marked vegan section near the front of the menu with five or six dishes, mostly tofu based.

Irkutsk
Pkhali from Khinkalnaya Georgian restaurant in Irkutsk

Pkhali from Khinkalnaya Georgian restaurant in Irkutsk

Fitoterapia is one of the best vegan restaurants in all of Russia! It’s also one of the cheapest. The extensive menu is written in English and includes burgers, pizza and milkshakes as well as healthier options.

Khinkalnaya is a Georgian restaurant in the 130 Kvartel complex. The food is quite good, though the prices are on the high end.

Ulan Ude
Chinese food at Café Kailash in Ulan Ude

This eggplant dish at Café Kailash was definitely the best meal we ate in Ulan Ude.

The only city in Russia we visited where the dining options were pretty disappointing was Ulan Ude. There were no veggie restaurants, and the one Georgian restaurant was pretty far away. 

We settled for vegan Italian food at Marco Polo and Venezia, both of which were pretty sub-par, and vegan Chinese food at Café Kailash and F1 Café, which turned out to be pretty good. 

Just as we were leaving town, a local expat told us about an Indian restaurant called Delhi that has marked vegan options on the menu. If only we’d known!

Eat at Georgian Restaurants

Georgian cuisine is highly underrated, and it's quite vegan friendly too!

Georgian cuisine is highly underrated, and it's quite vegan friendly too!

Have you ever tried Georgian cuisine before? I’m talking about Georgia the country, not the southern state in the US. It’s one of the most underrated cuisines in the world, and so far the Russians seem to be the only ones who have discovered it.

Georgian cuisine is also much more vegan-friendly than Russian cuisine by nature. So, if you can’t find a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, your next option should be to look for a Georgian restaurant.

There will be plenty of meat on the menu, but you’re also sure to find some delicious vegan options. I’ll be publishing a full guide to vegan Georgian food in the coming weeks, so watch this space!

In the meantime, a few vegan dishes to look for are adjapsandali, lobio and pkhali.

In Russian Restaurants, Order Side Dishes

Classic vegan Russian food - potatoes, mushrooms and grilled vegetables

Classic vegan Russian food - potatoes, mushrooms and grilled vegetables

To be honest, traditional Russian restaurants are not very vegan-friendly, so you’re usually better off in a restaurant that serves a different ethnic cuisine. 

If you can’t find Georgian, look for a restaurant that serves Chinese, Italian, Indian, or one of the other vegan-friendly cuisines that I talk about in my book, Veggie Planet.

But if you do end up in a Russian restaurant, you can probably make a meal out of some side dishes in a pinch.

Common side dishes in Russian restaurants include grilled vegetables (Овощи-гриль) and fried potatoes with mushrooms (Картофель, жареный с грибами). You might get lucky and find a soup option too.

Self-Catering as a Vegan in Russia

Plant-based milk in Russia

Plant-based milk used to be hard to find in Russia, but the new "ne moloko" brand is widely available.

As you can probably tell from the long list of restaurants recommended above, we ate out for most of our meals while traveling in Russia. The two places where we self-catered were in Suzdal, a small town on the Golden Ring circuit, and in a couple of villages on Lake Baikal.

If you want to cook your own meals, you can get basic supplies like pasta, oats, nuts, crackers and canned beans at mainstream supermarket chains like Магнит.

Also look for the Кабачковая Икра squash spread that Victoria mentioned above, and the eggplant version, called Икра Баклажанная. We were surprised to find that many supermarkets even have hummus!

And a Russian brand of oat milk, called не молоко (“not milk”), has recently come onto the market and is often sold in regular supermarkets in addition to health food stores.

If traveling to rural areas, I recommend stocking up in a larger city before you head out if possible. The Slata supermarket in Irkutsk is a good place to stock up before Lake Baikal, for example.

We also self-catered on long train journeys, which is what most Russians do when traveling by train. There’s a dining car on the trains, but the food is overpriced and not that good, and you definitely shouldn’t rely on it for vegan options.

Food on trains in Russia

Making oatmeal with (too much) hot water on an overnight train ride in Russia

Each train carriage has a hot water boiler, so instant noodles are a popular option. If you can’t find any vegan noodles, good alternatives for instant hot meals are couscous and oatmeal, but remember to bring your own tupperware to prepare it in.

Single-serving oatmeal packets are sold in most Russian supermarkets. Some of them have milk powder added, though, so check the ingredients first.

In larger cities, health food stores sell more specialty vegan items, including vegan meats and cheeses. Vkusvill (Вкусвилл) is a chain of health stores with many branches around the country, including in Moscow, Vladimir, Kazan and Nizhny Novgorod. 

And Moscow and St. Petersburg even have exclusively vegan shops. For more on the specific brands and products available in Russia, see this guest post about hidden vegan treats in Eastern Europe.

Falafel and Hummus Is Surprisingly Widespread

Hummus in Russia

You can often find hummus even in regular Russian supermarkets.

If you’re vegan, there’s a good chance you already love falafel and hummus. In which case, you’re in luck in Russia! 

Hummus (хумус in Russian) is often available even in mainstream supermarkets. Look for it in tubs in the refrigerated section.

And falafel is by far the most common menu item in vegetarian and vegan restaurants in Russia. To be honest, I got a bit tired of falafel after a while and was craving something different.

But it’s a good fallback option to have when there’s nothing else. You can sometimes find omnivore Middle Eastern eateries that will also serve falafel and hummus.

For more tips on traveling in Russia in general, see my article on things you need to know about Russia.

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Where to Find Vegan Food in Russia

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About Wendy Werneth

Intrepid traveler, vegan foodie and animal lover. I uncover vegan treasures all around the world, so you can be vegan anywhere and spread compassion everywhere.

14 Comments

  1. This is so useful! I think I skim read this a while back and didn’t really register it, but now that I’m moving to Russia in May I’m bookmarking this page for sure!

  2. Anastasia Harrold

    Hi Victoria, My mother will be in Russia for 1 month and i will be coming over for a week in November. We are both vegan and want to know if there are any special shops where we can buy vegan food such as milk, cheese, frozen, and alternatives. And also if there are any products that can easily be found in normal supermarkets such as ( sedmoy kantinent,azbyka fkysa and Bila) like soya milk. You can reply in Russian as i understand it.
    Thank you

    • Hi Anastasia,
      I’ve written to Victoria about your message, so I hope she will see it and reply. If not, it sounds like Paivi and Santeri who commented above would be a good source of local info!

  3. Your blog was very helpful when we moved to Moscow 2 months ago and we survived as strict vegans! Here is our top 10 Russian vegan foods list: http://www.2globalnomads.info/2016/11/vegan-food-eating-guide-russia.html

    • Great info guys! I’m so glad that you are enjoying your time in Moscow and are finding everything you need there. Could you perhaps answer Anastasia’s question below about the availability of soya milk and other vegan alternatives?

  4. It would be nice to know how to say ‘I don’t eat fish’ etc. Especially since it’s named in the article that people will assume that you eat fish.. that ol’ Lent chestnut!

Tell us what you think in the comments!