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Eating Vegetarian in Ukraine

10. October 2012 by Lorena 0 Comments

When you are a vegetarian, travel presents some challenges. To be able to eat well and maintain a vegetarian diet, you will have to do a bit of research, learn a bit of the local language, and be flexible when you travel to Ukraine.


Vegetarianism is not a familiar dietary choice to Ukrainians. However, many dishes in Ukraine are based on vegetables, so, there will often be choices available for you. If you eat dairy or eggs, you will have a fairly easy time finding foods that you can eat. Vegan travelers to Ukraine will have a tougher time. If you are able to be flexible enough with your diet to include fish, you will have plenty of food choices, particularly along the coasts. While many foods are vegetable-based in Ukraine, items are often cooked in or flavored with a small amount of animal-based ingredients such as beef broth or pork fat. Learn a few Ukrainian or Russian phrases so that you can ask servers in restaurants about ingredients. 


There are more and more vegetarian options available in restaurants in Ukraine all the time. There are over a dozen restaurants in Kiev, the country’s capital, that are vegetarian or at least vegetarian-friendly. At many Ukrainian restaurants, there will be salads, soups and breads that a vegetarian can enjoy. You may also be able to sample local delicacies like cheese or sauerkraut-stuffed dumplings, or crispy potato pancakes. Many cities also have Japanese, Indian, Italian or other cuisines that frequently feature vegetarian-friendly offerings.


Let your host know in advance about your dietary restrictions if you are invited to eat at someone’s home. Ukrainians hold hospitality in high regard, and your host will probably do all that she can to accommodate you. However, if you are served meat, you should probably put respect for your host above other scruples and eat it. It is very rude in Ukraine to fail to at least taste food that you are given.


In the markets, you’ll usually be able to buy fruits, vegetables, cheese and bread without issue. If you plan to pick up packaged food, you’ll need to read enough Ukrainian to puzzle out the ingredients if you want to ensure that the foods you pick up are animal-product free.


A bit of education, some adaptability, and a bit of patience will all go a long way toward helping you enjoy your trip to Ukraine as a vegetarian.

Photo: BeverlyLR