Being vegetarian is hard. Being vegetarian in Moscow is especially hard.
(As a not-so-quick aside, since this is invariably the question that pops up after a slightly repulsed/shocked face and a “really?!”: “why?!” I’ve actually always been a vegetarian. Seriously. Always. My parents were both vegetarians when I was born and it just happened. No, they never refused to feed me meat, but as a little kid who understood exactly where beef came from, I wasn’t really interested in eating any animals. And no, I’ve never eaten meat. I mean, I probably have — just not that I know of.)
So. Yes, being a vegetarian has been quite the feat here in Moscow. Like any other major city, in recent years there has been some progress in terms of accepting and embracing a vegetarian diet. However vegetarianism is still not very common in Russia’s major cities and basically unheard of to a non-metropolitan Russian. A lot of interactions (particularly with older generations) have gone something like this video from Everything is Illuminated (affiliate link).
I’ve suffered through the pain of being the non-carnivorous weirdo for years so if you’re planning on being a vegetarian in Moscow, I totally feel your pain. To ease the transition, I’ve compiled a list of WHAT
Centrally located in Moscow, Jagganath’s main location is always packed full of people. (Maybe the lone 50 vegetarians of Moscow city?) There’s an eclectic mix of food on offer: some Indian, raw foods, and a lot of fresh produce. No alcohol, though. I feel they get the impression that vegetarianism=healthy… The food is good, if pretty pricey, and there’s a health food store attached with a pretty interesting range of products. One highlight is their outrageously overpriced Nature Valley Bars. Soy milk and other soy products can also be found at high, high prices.
Kuznetsky Most 11 (Metro Kuznetsky Most)
Aromass (Indian Restaurant)
While not strictly vegetarian, this place is AH-MAY-ZING and has lots of vegetarian options thanks to its Indian roots. The workers are all Indian – most speak excellent English (and Russian, to my intense envy) and, as an added bonus, are incredibly friendly compared to typical Russian service! The curries are delicious (I always go for the paneer butter masala) and the bread can be consumed by the basket-ful. It’s about a ten minute hike from the metro, but totally worth it!
Krzhizhanovskogo ul. 20/30, k. 1 (Metro Profsoyuznaya)
Avokado has two locations that offer vegetarian, vegan, and raw food. The food is pretty internationally inclined, but I’ve heard you can get some interesting “vegetarian-ized” Russian dishes there. Like vegan blini — though what’s the point without the butter?! The cafe is expensive but, hey, it’s Moscow. Why are you surprised?
Tverskaya Ulitsa 5/6 (Metro Okhotnyy Ryad)
Bul’var Chistoprudnyy, 12, bldg. 2 (Metro Chistye Prudy)
Happy Vegan Shop
Happy Vegan is made up of both a physical shop and an online portion that offers delivery service. Offering delicious and healthy food for vegans and vegetarians, Happy Vegan has an amazing spread of items that you might not find elsewhere (specialty flours and grains, as well as vegan meat substitutes). Best of all, if you’re too lazy to cook, their cafe serves up vegan treats already made!
Sivtsev Vrazhek pereulok 19 (metro Smolenskaya, Arbatskaya)
Aside from giving Moscow some much needed variety, the Indian Spices shops are a great place to pick up a few bits and pieces that are mostly unavailable elsewhere. Their shops have an amazing selection of spices as well as Indian snacks, oils, and much much more. Also, if you’re looking for organic/natural cosmetics or shower items, Indian Spices usually has a great selection.
Multiple location: most central @ ulitsa Sretenka 36/2 (metro Sukharevskaya)
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