jeudi 18 juin 2015



The Russian capital is undergoing a vegan diet boom. In the past month, pan-Asian restaurant Shanti has opened a vegan branch called Shanti-Green, a new vegan market with prepared foods has opened in Patriarch's Ponds and the Botanika restaurant near Belorusskaya has launched a raw food menu. This is in addition to the expansion of Canadian vegan restaurant chain Fresh to three stores last year up from its original Moscow restaurant, which opened in 2012.
"People are tired of smoking and drinking, it's not cool anymore," Yekaterina Petrenko, manager of the vegan, vegetarian and raw food cafe Sok ("Juice") said. The cafe opened in 2011, and Petrenko said that since that time, the cafe has seen its traffic increase by 60 percent. Today it's not uncommon to see a line of people waiting for a table. "Our biggest hit is a raw tart made of carob," Petrenko said.
Perhaps its not surprising that Sok, which has a prime location in front of the Tretyakov Gallery, attracts a constant stream of both tourists and locals. But the real sign that veganism is taking hold is the opening of vegan cafes even on the outskirts of the Russian capital.
The Happy Vegan Shop, whose original store is located just off the popular pedestrian Arbat street, made the decision to open a branch in Mitino — a traditional, working-class bedroom community outside the Moscow Ring Road — last December.
"The client database for our online shop showed us that surprisingly a lot of people ordered vegan food from Mitino, so we decided to set up in this location," Lyudmila Dariyenko, the owner of the Happy Vegan Shop said. "First I was afraid that locals would be resentful, ask where is the meat? But in reality non-vegetarian locals love it," Dariyenko said, noting that profits have increased 20 percent since the start of this year.
The clientele in the Mitino location is different from the customers of Happy Vegan Shop near the Arbat, which tends toward hipsters and tourists. In Mitino, the shop is popular with pregnant women, mothers and grandmothers who want to feed the children in their care organic food.
The shop, which also has a cafe offering coffee with soy milk, falafel, lentil burgers, rice and salads, makes more money from grocery sales. Currently, Happy Vegan Shop sells an average of 100 kg of tofu a month — up from 70 kg per month in 2013. Another popular offering is a locally produced line of eco-friendly household cleaning products.
Nothing sold in the shop is made from or has been tested on animals.
"Our main idea is to attract as many people as possible to a lifestyle that refuses to take part in the killing and exploitation of animals," said Dariyenko, 30, who has been a vegan for five years and considers herself more of an activist than a businessperson.
Dariyenko is not the only vegan cafe owner who puts her beliefs ahead of her business.