[Moscow News]

Russia's cold winters give little chance for a year-round bounty of plant food, and the culture's signature dishes, from borshch in winter, to summer shashliks, feature meat more often than garnish with it. But, in the motherland of campaigning vegetarian Lev Tolstoy, a country in which mushroom-hunting could almost be called a sport, vegetarians survive in the cosmopolitan capital in their own way.

"About five to ten percent of Muscovites are vegetarians, a rather large number," said Daman, art director for Moscow's all-vegetarian, pro-health restaurant and store Jagganath, which maintains the websites and He told The Moscow News that vegetarianism is currently widespread among Moscow's intellectual young adults.

Indeed, speaking to Moscow vegetarians, it can sometimes seem that the entire city is ready to keep meat off their plates. Muscovites react "well!" to vegetarianism, said Tatiana on behalf of vegetarian café Avocado. Only about 30 percent of her clients are vegetarians, she told The Moscow News, while those who don't mind some fowl in their feed eat at the café because "they are curious."

But aside from at Moscow's vegetarian restaurants Jagganath, Avocado and Café Ganga, a vegetarian in the capital can sometimes feel not so welcome. While restaurant menus usually include meatless salads or side dishes, not ordering a meaty main dish can earn looks of dissatisfaction from the waitstaff. Moscow currently lacks a strong, unified vegetarian society to promote recognition of the diet on this level. "The government does not at all financially support vegetarian societies or restaurants," Daman explained. "There is no structure that could help, so consequently it is very difficult. Most of the money a restaurant takes in is from alcohol, and vegetarian restaurants, which promote health and well-being, usually do not serve alcohol. Also, in Moscow fruits and vegetables are expensive."


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