Kiev’s Vegan Scene

Kyiv or Kiev is the stunning capital city of Ukraine. If you’re wondering if Kyiv is worth visiting, I say definitely yes!! There are many reasons to visit this city and one of them is the vegan food scene.

Over the last few years, Kyiv has seen a mini-boom of vegan restaurants and the eco-friendly community keeps growing rapidly.

During my time in Kyiv, I did encounter lots of great vegan food. For what I understand its’s partially due to religious reasons. I was told that in Orthodox Christianity there are several fasting periods, during which specific animal products are not consumed.

They abstain for 40 days leading up to Easter, for a period in May/June,  for the first 14 days of August, and from 15 November to 24 December, and all year round on Wednesdays and Fridays.

For that reason, most restaurants have a ‘fasting menu‘ (‘Lenten menus’ – постное меню in Russian) that is mostly composed of plant-based dishes.

Communism also ‘helped’. There are great vegan products (not labelled as such), originated during the Communist era. In order to reduce costs and shortages, they used plant-based ingredients, instead of expensive animal products.

Apart from religion and communism veganism is on the rise in general, and Kyiv is not an exception. There are many great vegan places to eat around the city.

When you eat at a non-vegan place notice that they eat quite a lot of сало (lard), сметана (sour cream) and sometimes there are small amounts of meat ‘hiding’ in some dishes.

Vegan Restaurants, Cafés and Bakeries:

B12 candy bar is a vegan bakery, with a small shop attached located in the historic part of the city. Also offers salads and sandwiches. A great place for anyone with a sweet tooth.

Soupculture is famed for the various soups served in edible bread bowls.

Nikogoneem located in a plaza-style area with multiple vegan restaurants. They serve amazing tofu and seitan burger.

KOLO, is a lovely restaurant in Podil with a cosy interior, that serves homemade soups, salads, sandwiches, burgers, wraps and desserts.

Sereda, sells delicious cakes, fresh juices and smoothies. The place is also bike-friendly.

Orang+utan offers a rich selection of vegan sandwiches, salads and smoothies.

Cafe Imbir near the Olimpiska metro station has a cosy atmosphere and great vegan and vegetarian food. You can even find a few raw vegan options.

Bessarabsky Market,  it’s an indoor market full of stalls, farmers stands, and restaurants. There are several vegan options in this marketGreen 13, sells wraps, sandwiches, burgers, salads, soups and desserts. Ra.Man. has a wide selection of vegan ramen, six types of bowls, pitas and desserts.

To find other vegan places in Kiev happycow is your best friend!

Where to Find Vegan Food in Kiev

I’ve found that there are great 100% vegan restaurants but also interesting local restaurants with at least one meatless option everywhere. So I would say that is quite easy to travel in Kyiv as a vegan.

The trendy district called Podil is probably one of the best neighbourhoods for vegan food in Kyiv.

There are also some excellent local events such as the monthly flea market Kurazh Bazar (with delicious street food) and the annual Kyiv Vegan Boom festival, with a food court and market set up on the bank of the Dnieper river.

So I assure you, you will not go hungry in Kyiv. I think the scene there is going to get better and better and it’s definitely a city to keep your eye on.

Cuba travel tips: everything you need to know to travel on a budget (part 1)

For what I had read before going to Cuba I was expecting that a month there would be quite expensive, and definitely can be, but you can also travel on a tight budget.

I spent an average of 23€ a day, but I travelled with another person, so for solo travellers, this amount would be higher for sure, and of course, everyone travels differently,  so no one ever has the same travel budget. I just put mine here as a reference, so you know that’s possible.

The first tip, never take a no for an answer, it’s important to negotiate, and it’s normal to ‘argue’ and ‘get upset’, always always speak out, if the situation is not fair or reasonable. Otherwise you will be paying more than in Switzerland or Norway.

Be prepared to sometimes be ignored in a Cuban shop and to be always the last one to be served (but not in a touristic place) 😉

👉🏽 Money

Cuba has 2 different currencies – Cuban Peso (CUP) also known as moneda nacional MN and Cuban Convertible Peso (CUC)  (25CUP = $1 USD =1CUC). Foreigners CAN (and should) use CUP it is not illegal, so don’t believe if someone tells you the opposite.

Probably the best tip I can give is NEVER ask the prices in Cuba, expect Cubans to give you always the prices in CUCs and to see other tourists using only this currency. When you ask they know you are not sure… Assume always that the prices are in Pesos Cubanos (CUP), and pay for it straight away, the only exceptions are the touristic restaurants and bars, long-distance taxis, hotels/casas and tour operators, but you’ll realise that they always write CUC in front of the price. So if you see a menu (carta) with coffee – 1, it means that the price is 1CUP (about 4 cents) and not 1CUC ($1 dollar).

You only need CUCs to pay for: long distance transports, accommodation, museums, touristic spots and water. (0.5L – 45CUC;   1.5L – 0.70CUC;  5L – 1.90CUC) for everything else use CUPs. We came across some upsetting situations in Trinidad and Havana when buying water, the staff from the supermarket didn’t have the prices in the water and despite the fact that we knew the price and gave the correct amount they asked for much more. Step your foot down and argue loudly so everybody know what they are doing,  they don’t just ask for a few more cents, they ask for a 1,5L 3 o 4 CUC.. what they are doing is illegal and you can ask to speak with the manager or even call the number that is on the wall for the customer service. Demand that they scan your product and give you a receipt like they do when serving a Cuban.

Always choose places that have the prices displayed, it’s current practice, so when they don’t have it, they will probably create a new price just for you. (check out the pictures below they all have prices displayed in CUPs and keep in mind that $1=25CUP)

The prices don’t change much around the island, so having the average food prices in mind should help (all prices in CUPs):

  • sandwich  2-12 CUP
  • pizza  5-10 CUP
  • natural juice/milkshake 3-5 CUP
  • coffee 1-2 CUP
  • chocolate bar 5-10 CUP (depended on size)
  • small sweets 1-2 CUP
  • peanut bars / seed bars 5-7 CUP
  • ice cream 1-5 CUP
  • popcorn 5CUP
  • one paper cone with peanuts 1 CUP
  • 1 big avocado 5-10CUP
  • 3 big mangos 5-10CUP
  • 1 hot dish (rice with beans and salad)  – 10-25CUP
  • fried banana 5CUP
  • All snack varies from 3-10CUP
  • Piña colada 5-10CUP
  • Mojito 10-12 CUP
  • pasta 10 CUP
  • beer (Cerveja dispensed is the cheapest one) 5-25 CUP
  • soda in a cup 1-2 CUP
  • hot chocolate 5 CUP
  • churros 3-5 CUP
  • malt beverage 10-25 CUP

The average price for local transports in CUPs:

  • bus – 1CUP (they call it guagua)
  • bici taxi – 5CUP – 10CUP

I brought cash to fund my whole trip so don’t really know how reliable are the ATM, but saw a couple in each capital district.

Exchanging money it’s easy but like everything in Cuba takes time and queuing outside. Ask for the CADECA the official place to exchange money and of course, don’t do it in the street. It is possible to exchange U.S. Dollars, Euros, British Pounds, and a few others. But U.S. Dollar is by far the worst one because it gets charged a 10% fee in addition to the exchange rate.

Exchange your money to Convertible Cuban Pesos (CUC) first and then some Convertibles(CUC) to Cuban Pesos (CUP). (Don’t forget to take your passport).

Paying in convertibles (CUC) and getting change in CUPs is the most popular trick so familiarize yourself with the money and always check your change.

👉🏽Where to stay 

The cheapest options are the casas particulares, a kind of Airbnb or guest house. Finding a casa is extremely easy, there are plenty available everywhere, we didn’t book any house in advance and was always easy and quick to find one. Simply walk around the area you want, knock on the door of a house with the blue sign and ask to see a room, then decide if you want to stay there or see the next one.

We always negotiate our price to fit our budget that was €20 per night and we found always a house that was willing to do that price for us, even in the more touristic areas like Havana, or Trinidad, so don’t get afraid when they start saying that is the high season, all the cases are full, etc.. Cuba truly has a huge offer.

Breakfast is normally not included and the price is between 5-6CUC, but to be fair you will eat exactly the same out for a fraction of that price, so we never ate at the casas.

👉🏽Eating and drinking 

Someone that I met there told me “we are not here to eat” when I was complaining about the food, and lack of options…. and that really needs to be the attitude because Cuban food is by far the worst I ever came across.  In the other hand it’s ridiculously cheap and why to worry about eating when you can drink 🙂 natural fruit juice of course 😉

The lowest-cost options are at street-side stores they normally have sandwiches, pizza, rice with beans, pasta, natural fruit juice and coffee, but not all the options at the same time.

They have two types of places, the state-run restaurants and the particulares, the last one is a bit more expensive than the other one but not really a big difference, it’s like instead of paying 1 dollar for your meal you will pay 2, only if that private restaurants (particular) serves locals.

Cooking your own food it’s not an option at all, but what we did to complement our meals was to buy fruits like avocado and mango and ask at the restaurants to cut it for us.

Fresh juices are amazing and very cheap, if you have an empty water bottle with you, ask them to refill it with juice (1,2,3.. cups) it’s a normal practice between locals.

We never got sick from the food or drinks (only feed up😂)

👉🏽Being Vegan (or) Vegetarian 

Well, where to start… to say the truth, being vegan in Cuba can be very hard when you are travelling on a budget, and off the beaten path.

While you always have the option of eating at the casas particulares, that with your guide will be able to cook something for you,  it’s not the cheapest option or any different from the things you can eat outside. Cooking is also not an option, because they will not allow you to use their kitchens.

Carrying a knife is truly a life saver, you can just eat some salad or fruit when you want. Cubans sell seasonal fruit and vegetables using street carts, it is more likely to find them during the morning. Fresh fruit is by far one of the top foods you can eat, the most common are guavas, papayas, pineapples, bananas, mangoes, avocados, mamoncillo and coconuts.

Here are some names of the most common food, if you don’t speak Spanish it would be important to get familiarised with them:

  • arroz (rice)
  • ensalada (salad)
  • frijoles (beans)
  • arroz morro or moros y cristianos  (black beans + rice)
  • fruta (fruit)
  • maduros (fried sweet plantains)
  • tostones (fried green plantains)
  • Yuca frita or cassava (a root vegetable)
  • pan (bread)
  • papas (potatoes)
  • Batido (milkshake)  *not vegan
  • jugo natural (natural fruit juice)
  • Cucurucho (desert with coconut and pineapple)
  • pudin or flan (pudding flan) *not vegan
  • Pasteles dulces (bakery)
  • mani (peanuts)

More touristic places, like Havana, Trinidad or Viñales will have a better option than the rest of the country, but not much..

So far, for me, Cuba was the hardest country to eat well as a vegan (sorry to say that if you are planning a trip to Cuba 😆) You will definitely not to starve but you will get sick of the same food every day, specially if you are travelling like me for a long time, by the end I couldn’t think about eating more of the same again 😫 the smile in my face holding the food was just for the photos  haha 😂

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

🚌 Read Part 2 🚌

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Vegan-Friendly Places to Eat in Cambridge

2013-05-14 00.24.53.jpegIf you are vegan or vegetarian you know that sometimes can be difficult to find a place to eat, but you don’t need to worry, Cambridge has plenty of options. As a vegan living in Cambridge for 4 years, I will give you an insight of the best places to eat while you are visiting this extraordinary city.

Stem + Glory, Chesterton Road or Kings street –  it’s a strict vegan place more suitable for breakfast, lunch or brunch.

Stir, Chesterton Road – Delicious coffees and cakes plus veggie brunches and lunches.

Rainbow Vegetarian Café, King’s Parade – this is a well-known multi-award winning veggie cafe and restaurant specializing in vegan and gluten-free food.

Arjuna Wholefoods, Mill Roadit’s a worker’s cooperative, and great to grab a snack or a vegan lunch.

Fudge KitchenKings Parade – they make artisan fudge and offer dairy-free fudge made with soy cream.

Curry King, Jordans Yard Bridge Street – it’s an Indian restaurant and almost all the menu can be served with vegetables instead of meat.

Espresso Library, East Road – This cafe has plenty of vegan options for breakfast and lunch.

Market HillMarket Square (10am-4pm) – this is the local market, not all vendors show up every day, so you never know exactly what you’ll find, but for sure you have a couple of options to choose from, like falafel, smoothies, breads, cakes, churros, noodles, cookies, muffins, flapjacks and, dumplings.

DopplegangerTrinity Street, delicious vegan burgers.

Cham Cafe, Mill Road, small place that serves vegan turkish food like meze platters, vegan Gózleme, vegan börek, soups and cakes.

Always check if there is a vegan market or the  Cambridge Vegan Fair happening while you are visiting the city. It’s an immense sea of stalls, serving a bit of literary everything.

If you are with friends that are not vegan, all restaurants (one better than others) will have options for you, even the pubs. If you don’t want to waste time and money, you can always grab a packed meal at one of the many small street shops.

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

Tips of what to visit in Cambridge  ◀︎

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Vegan Portugal, where to eat (guide)

Being a vegetarian/vegan in Portugal is not easy, especially if you are traveling relying mostly on restaurants and cafes.

The restaurants have usually 4 main options in their menu (not very vegan-friendly): appetizers, fish, meat, and desserts. however in most places you w,ill find a friendly Portuguese that will try to help you, and will create something with the things they have in the kitchen, you just need to explain correctly what you eat and don’t eat, otherwise you will almost for sure be served an omelet or a lettuce salad 🙂

Veganism and vegetarianism has been growing in the country since the last decade, and lots of new restaurants and cafes are popping in from north to south. To make your life easier I will leave a list of great places that you should try if visiting Portugal:

(V) includes: vegan + vegetarian + ovo-lacto-vegetarian options

💚 NORTH

Oporto

Espinho

Matosinhos 

  • Da Terra -Rua Afonso Cordeiro, 71 Matosinhos (V)
  • Pé de arroz – Rua do Godinho, 866  4450-029 Matosinhos (V)

Aveiro 

  • Musgo – Rua Tenente Rezende, galerias do Rossio B, 3800 Aveiro (V)
  • Ki Macrobiotico-  R. Cap. Sousa Pizarro 15, 3810-164 Aveiro (V+ macrobiotic)

Guimarães 

Castelo Branco 

  • Namaste – Rua de S. Jorge, 21-23 Castelo Branco (V)

Braga

💚CENTRE

Lisbon

  • Os Tibetanos- Rua do Salitre 117, 1250-198 Lisboa (V)
  •  PSI – Alameda Santo António dos Capuchos, 1150 Lisboa  (V )
  • Jardim doSentidos – R. da Mãe de Água 3, 1250-154 Lisboa (V)
  • 26 – Rua Vítor Cordon, 26, Chiado, Lisboa (V)
  • Vegana Burgers –  Saldanha Residence, Av. Fontes Pereira de Melo 42, 1050-010 Lisboa (Vegan)
  • Foodprintz – R. Rodrigo da Fonseca 82B, 1250-38 Lisboa (Vegan)
  • Terra Rua da Palmeira, 15, Príncipe Real, Lisboa (V)
  • Jardim das cerejas – Calçada Sacramento 36, 1200 Lisboa (V)
  • Oasis – R. Marquês Sá da Bandeira 76, 1050-099 Lisboa (V)
  • Tao – 1100 026, R. dos Douradores 10, Lisboa (V)
  •  Miss Saigon – Rua Cais das Naus, Lt. 4.01.01, Parque das Nações, Loja i, 1990-305 Lisboa (V)
  •  Bio – R. Francisco Sanches 39, 1170-140 Lisboa, (V)
  • Espaço da Rosa – R. Acácio de Paiva 11A, 1700-503 Lisboa (V)
  • Espiral – Praça Ilha do Faial 14 A, 1000-168 Lisboa (V)
  • The Food temple – Beco do Jasmim 18, Mouraria, Lisboa (V)
  • Princesa do Castelo – Rua do Salvador 64 A, Lisboa (V)
  • Pachamama – Boqueirão Douro n.46, 1200-163 Lisboa (with V options)
  • Água no bico – R. Gaivotas 8, 1200-066 Lisboa (V)
  • Veganeats–  Rua Cavaleiro de Oliveira, nº42 Lisboa (Vegan)
  • Paladar Zen – Av. Barbosa du Bocage, 107 C 1050-031 Lisboa (V)
  • Tamarind – Rua da Glória 43, 1250-115 Lisboa (with V options – Indian)
  • Cantina do templo Hindu – Alameda Mahatma Gandhi 1600-500 Paço do Lumiar, Lisboa (V)

Sintra

  • Espaço Edla –  R. Dr. Alfredo da Costa 52, 2710-523 Sintra (with V options)
  • Tinkly – Estr. do Rodízio 2, 2705-335 Colares (V)

Sesimbra 

  • Aloha Café – Rua Gil Vicente nº 30B, Cotovia, Sesimbra  (with V options)
  • XL da Carlota –  Rua Basilio Teles, nº 196, R/C – Quinta do Conde Sesimbra (V)

Coimbra

  • Cozinha consciente – Rua de Olivença, Galerias Topázio nº 9, 2º andar loja 35, 3000-306 Coimbra (V)
  • GreenSide – Celas, R. Parreiras 31, 3030 Coimbra (V)
  • CAFÉ SHANTY – Avenida Sá da Bandeira 33/35 2º andar, loja 230 Galerias Avenida, 3004-544 Coimbra (with V options)

,Cascais 

Oeiras 

  • Convicts –   Rua Desembargador Faria, n.º 31 Oeiras (V)

Almada 

  • Veg-e-tal – Av. D. Afonso Henriques 8A 2800-009 Almada (V)

💚SOUTH

Évora 

  • Jardin do chá – Largo Mario Chico, 17, 7000 Évora.(with V options)
  • Salsa verde – Rua do Raimundo, 93 – A – Évora (V)
  • art cafe  – R. de Serpa Pinto 6, 7000-505 Évora (with V options)

Beja

Faro

Albufeira

Alvor

  • Azul Algarve – Rua do Rossio Grande Lt E/F Loja C Alvor, Faro, Portugal (V)

Portimão

  • Vegetarianus – R. da Quinta do Bpo. 17, 8500 Portimão (V)
  • Armazém integral – Rua das comunicações lj B, Ed. Casas do Rio (V) shop+caffe   
  • Mercearia Bio – Rua das Comunicações, Edifício Casa do Rio Loja C 8500-657 Portimão (Vshop+caffe   

💚Islands:

Madeira

Azores 

  • Casa do Jardim – Rua do Marques, 110, Angra do Heroísmo, azores (V)

Notes:

*Most Portuguese soups are vegan and you can find them everywhere for about 1.50€ – 3.00€. They’re really delicious and always cooked freshly from scratch.

*The bread is great, make sure you try a good Broa de milho (Corn bread), or Pão Alentejano (a bread originally from the region of Alentejo)

  • If you are visiting Portugal during fall or winter time you’ll find street vendors  selling castanhas assadas (baked Chestnuts)

*While in the country, try a good olive oil, and olives.

*Don’t miss the opportunity to drink some Porto Wine, red and white wine, medronho (kind of fruit brandy, distilled from wild strawberry ), Ginja (sour cherry liqueur)

*seasonal fresh fruit and vegetables are great, find them in the open markets. All Portuguese towns have markets offering a daily show of fresh locally farmed fruit and vegetables.

*drink a Café (coffee)

Have fun, enjoy the country and the food!

🌱Let me know if is there any other place that you recommend 😀

💛🌿Get inspired by the photos

photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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A Vegan in Sabah _ Kota Kinabalu

Kota Kinabalu, was actually a very pleasant surprise, through my stay I easily found really great places to eat.
I just need to start to say that KK has countless markets, all selling fresh fruit, juices, coconut water and lots of other local vegan delicacies.
I had no trouble at eating at the street markets either, the food was okay, nothing too extraordinary  but I appreciated that they could always veganaise something for me.
DSCF6815.JPG
I’m going to start with my very favourite place of all, the Vege Garden.
The only reason I didn’t have all my meals there was just because I wasn’t always in the city and they are only open till 5pm.
This small eaterie located between an Orange Convenience store and a Tourism Operator, and it’s part of Wisma Sabah mall. the food is just amazing and it’s very affordable.
The owner is super friendly and is always happy to give you some advice about the food he has for the day, and if they have run out of food they will arrange something for you. I loved this place so much that I had all my breakfasts there, a few lunches and even a couple of meals as a snack 😀 😀
IMG_2993
The Liew Chai Vegetarian has really delicious options of mock meat, and its very affordable.
If you are not a mock meat fan they also have a good selection of vegetables and tofu.
 This eatery is located in the middle of the food court on the lower ground floor of the Centrepoint Mall.
Beyond Veggie is located in the Suria Sabah Shopping Mall. Its a bit more sophisticated and modern and more expensive than the other ones a mention. Has a huge variety of dishes and desserts and the food is tasty.
Among all the food, the most surprising things we found on KK was the coconut jelly/pudding that is served in a coconut shell with the flesh of the coconut, I truly enjoyed it.
The green caviar (called also by Latok or sea grapes), that is a type of seaweed found in Sabah and Philippines. I found it at the Night market.
Interesting enough for the first time in my travellers life I just found many stalls selling fermented drinks and herbal teas with fungus.
 Other dishes we had:
Click here if you want to know what to do and visit at Kota Kinabalu and here if you are planning to visit the islands.
photography – all rights reserved – Ana Rocha

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