A Vegetarian’s Guide to St. Petersburg
Creamy hummus, fresh fruit and vegetable smoothies as well as traditional Russian Solyanka and Borsch soups are just some of the sumptuous dishes that vegetarians and vegans can enjoy in St. Petersburg. But there is so much more — Veggie Cafes, Restaurants, Supermarkets, a veritable galaxy of meat-free options. Here are some tips for you about how to adhere to your principles and feel good while you are living here.
Time to Go Out!
Just a few short years ago, there were almost no vegetarian restaurants in St. Petersburg, and just one proper health food shop, tucked away behind far-flung Vyborgskaya metro station. But that has now changed and changed very radically.
The city is now teeming with excellent options for vegetarians and even their more picky first cousins, those pesky and demanding folk known as Vegans. Take, for example, Cafe Auroville, which is not far from Chernishevskaya metro station (Radischev Street, 5). It is not only a place where you can eat vegan food, it’s also a communicative space. While eating a piece of wonderful cherry strudel with a cup of herbal tea you can meet some of the other clients and talk to them. Thanks to the atmosphere of free networking you want to visit this place again and again. This "art-space" always offers its' visitors an opportunity to participate in various workshops. For instance, on the weekend they initiate raw food diet seminars or dance classes.
At Rada&K you will enjoy a wide range of choices and reasonable prices. It looks like a bistro or fast-food joint but its dishes are very tasty and original. Indian salads, falafel, fresh-squeezed juices and even yeast-free bread — all of this you can try here, nearby Sadovaya Metro Station (Gorokhovaya street, 36).
Good news for fans of cozy places where one feels at home. Dyadya Fadi café is situated in a small flat! Its' owner and at the same time main chef is a man from Damascus who cooks wonderful vegan dishes. The motto of this café is "a home to friends only!" it means that all who gather together there become friends. You’ll find it right by the famous Gostiny Dvor (Dumskaya street, 5/22, apt. 68).
A new vegan restaurant with the gutsy name "Go to Health" (Syezzhinskaya Street, 37) opened recently by a famous St. Petersburg restaurant owner. The place is already a "must-visit" for bloggers and hipsters looking for some interesting content for their Instagram profiles.
Vegan Shopping: Everything You Could Possibly Need
You can find some vegan and vegetarian food at large supermarkets like Prisma, Okey, Ashan and Perekrestok. Typical products like tofu, soy milk, chickpeas and legumes are quite common at these stores. So use the map to find those that are closest to your apartment or university and buy healthy food there.
In summer Russian people usually buy fresh fruits, vegetables and berries at open air markets. In Russian it is called "rynok." You can find all open air markets of St. Petersburg on Google or just click here.
But there are also a number of dedicated Health Food chains with outlets all over the city. As well as bio-food and spices one can also buy beauty care products and vitamins. Eco Market "Organica' has shops on Gorokhovaya Dom 45 (just across the road from Rada & K) and Zverinskaya Dom 1 as well as online ordering here: supergreen.ru/. Kompass Zdorovaya can be found at Moskovsky Ave, 45, Sadovaya St, 47, Predportovaya ul., 5 and a number of others, listed on their website.
And of course there is always the original and arguably the best — once the sole single fluttering vegetarian retail flame in the entire city. The not so sexily named "Dieticheskoye Pitaniye' or "Diet Nutrition' is still there on Lesnoy Avenue, Dom 32 offering an impressive variety of veggie fare. This was the first Gluten Free shop in Russia and still excels on that front. Their website is here.
Pick Your Own
And for the ultimate vegetarian experience, St. Petersburg — and Russia in general — offers those with adventurous spirits something truly unique and exciting. Venturing out into the forest to pick mushrooms is a national pastime here — infused with childhood nostalgia and folk legend. But it’s also a way to tap into the latest fad in vegetarian dining — better known as "foraging' - without paying the ridiculous prices found in fashionable restaurants in the West. There are no maps or online resources for this — you’ll just have to find yourself some Russian friends and convince them to be your guides. Also, beware of the poisonous ones — vegetarianism is not worth dying for! But overall, in the summer or fall, you couldn’t do better than spending an afternoon picking mushrooms with your friends and in the evening, frying chanterelles and creminis with onions and potatoes and washing them down with raspberry tea.
But if that just seems way too energetic and exhausting, much of the above can be accessed from the comfort of your couch or desk. Currently one can buy food and other eco-friendly products on special websites. Red Dragon has a catalogue of great Asian foods based on vegetable products. It offers a wide range of mushrooms, edible water plants and organic drinks. To keep track of developments in the local Veggie community, there are groups both on VK and Facebook. They are also great places to find new friends. So, go forth, eat well, join the conversation and you will never be alone!