SOURCE ET SUITE
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
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
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.