Vegetarianism and Veganism in Ukraine
I am sure you have a certain knowledge about Ukraine. You should know that it is a post-soviet country, maybe you have also heard diverse stereotypes about Ukraine. For instance, Ukrainian language is same as Russian. It is not true! If you are coming to Ukraine with the knowledge of Russian you might want to check out four rules of using Russian in Ukraine. On the other hand, you may have also heard that Ukrainian girls are one of the most beautiful in the world, which is true!
As you see the information is quite controversial. However, Ukraine will embrace everyone and stay in your memory anyway. It has somehow very similar, but at the same time totally different architecture. You will find simple life pace and very hospitable and wise people here who know how to handle any situation.
Rise of Vegetarianism and Veganism in Ukraine
Every year more people are giving up meat and animal products in Ukraine. Moreover, every year in Kyiv, more places are opening where people can enjoy cruelty-free food. This is a fact to rejoice as Ukraine has also taken the progressive path like rest of Europe.
Recently, Kyiv has taken a wave of vegetarianism, which immediately affected the number of establishments with a vegetarian menu. Cafes, restaurants, lace shops and even fast food points are sprouting with vegetarian cuisine. These special dishes for those who do not eat meat, fish or other products of “animal” origin – now appear as mushrooms after the rain.
But it turns out that this wave of Vegetarianism and Veganism in Ukraine is not new! Few people know that the idea of unscrupulous nutrition began to spread in Kyiv at the end of the nineteenth century. In the beginning of the 20th century, Kyiv became the city with largest association of vegetarians throughout the Russian Empire! Most noteworthy, Russian Empire has a lot of vegetarian and vegan dishes. So, it is not surprising that in the city there were vegetarian stores and dining rooms. Moreover, Kyiv also had workshops and shops of vegetarian shoes and clothes. The spread of vegetarian philosophy was promoted by the venerable and widely known people who lived or sometimes stayed here.
Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in Kyiv
Most of the food and restaurant described below serve both vegetarian and vegan food. Please note that Smetana or sour crème is often served with some of the Ukrainian dishes such as dumplings or vareniki and borscht. Avoid sour crème and you have your vegan meal! Please also confirm with your serve if the dough of vareniki does not contain egg. Avoid ordering vareniki with cheese fillings.
If you are looking for restaurants that serve delicious traditional vegetarian or vegan dishes, you should definitely visit Varenychna Baluvana Galya near Klovska metro station. Here you can find tastiest dumplings ever. It is a network of modern urban cafes with dishes prepared exclusively from Ukrainian products. The chefs here follow traditional recipes. The concept is to introduce guests to Ukrainian hospitability, serve delicious food, and treat guests as friends. The interior of the “Baluvana Galya” is saturated with ethnic motifs and Ukrainian national colours. The ambience just takes you away from a bustling modern city.
Puzata Hata is the largest network of colourful restaurants serving national Ukrainian cuisine. You can find them in all major cities in Ukraine, including in Kyiv. The food here is not that expensive, but still very traditional and delicious. This place is a must stop in your journey of traditional vegetarian and vegan Ukrainian cuisine. They open early in the morning and serve breakfast. Later, in the daytime they serve comprehensive lunch, consisting of delicious borsch with deruny.
Non-Ukrainian Vegan/Vegetarian Restaurants in Kyiv
On the other hand, there are also places with non-Ukrainian food choice. However, I still recommend you to try them out as well. For instance, the vegan restaurant One Planet by Vegano Hooligano Family is open to all who feel the unity of the soul with nature. The core of the institution’s ideology is love and respect for nature. Sami workers and administrators say: “One Planet is a place free from violence”. Branded burgers, green salads, vegetable soups are the basis of the restaurant’s menu. Here you can have a pleasant evening with a group of friends, and have a cup of coffee in the morning alone with yourself.
Lyubimy Dyadya (Favourite Uncle) is a relatively new restaurant (just over 3 years old), but already known in the city by its cuisine and service. You will meet the Lebanese Tabula, Israeli hummus, Moroccan shakshuka (contains egg), Jerusalem burekas, and Palestinian baba ghanoush. It is also one of the best places for breakfast in Kyiv. I recommend booking a table in advance, as it is always very crowded (even early in the morning on a weekend).
Zhizn Zamechatelnykh Lyudey (Life of Wonderful People) is an excellent place for spending time and getting gastronomic pleasure. The dishes are so tasty that it’s cannot be described with words. Chocolate Napoleon, shakshuka (contains egg) and quinoa salad, all this and much more can not help ,but makes me come here again and again. The restaurant is located in the centre of the city, which in turn gives this place an even richer ambience and leaves an unforgettable impression. In this restaurant, everything is premium with premium hospitality.
ORANG + UTAN is a stylish sandwich bar with delicious, healthy food. Definitely a favourite place for vegetarians and those who support and follow a healthy lifestyle.
In the end.
Ukrainian society is very up to date. Young entrepreneurs travel and gain inspiration from outside the borders and the next month you can find a really fashionable place in the centre of Ukrainian city or third-wave coffee place. In two months, people will appreciate changes, the novelty will start to develop. In half a year, everybody will speak about the coffee festival or minimalistic atmosphere of that fashionable place. Ukrainians live trends. Despite the past communist thinking, even the older generation joins innovations. If you decide to come to Ukraine on vacation, you might need a visa. You may not need a Tourist Voucher in order to get Ukrainian Tourist visa.
2 thoughts on “Vegetarianism and Veganism in Ukraine”
I read that some Orthodox Ukrainians omit meat from their food intake on certain religious holidays? How common is this practice? The reason I ask is because Oriental Orthodox Christians in Ethiopia supposedly are vegetarian three days per week. However, my experience in the capital of Addis Ababa was that at least *restaurants* (don’t know about home-cooked food) had much more American and European fast food (hamburgers and pizza). In fact I had to go to a high-class restaurant to get traditional Ethiopian food for devout Coptics.
That’s true! Strict followers of Orthodox religion in Ukraine and Russia omit meat from their food before some religious holidays like Easter and Christmas. This period of not eating meat is called lent or post in Russian. However, I feel less people follow this practice now. I have some friends who follow vegan diet during lent, and some who try but give up after few days. Restaurants in Russia and Ukraine carry an additional lent menu during these days, even Aeroflot airlines had lent food available when I was flying during lent period.