You follow a special diet & worry to travel on the Trans-Siberian and starve ? Have no fear, feeding yourself in Russia or on the train is not an issue.
There are cafés, stolovaya (canteen), street food markets and plenty food stalls in every street corner in Russia. However, if you follow a special diet it can be a bit tricky to eat your way around.
I have no particular diet (only picky tastes) but I do have friends all over the world who are vegetarians, vegans, Muslims eating halal or Jews kosher, so I totally understand that you don’t want to break your diet nor starve yourself for the next 9000 kilometres.
In this short guide you will find informations about halal, kosher, vegeterian and vegan food in Russia.
This post is only for informative purposes, I do not claim to know each and every rule of halal & kosher diets.
Last updated : 08/02/2023
In any cities or small towns you can find a supermarket or small food store named “produkty” selling all the basics like bread, jam, oatmeal, veges, fruits, eggs etc
Islam is the second most practiced religion in Russia, counting more than 20 millions Muslims accross the country. It may be a minority religion, but there 9 republics with Muslim majorities in the Federation : Tatarstan, Bashkiria, Dagestan, Chechnya, Ingushetia, North Ossetia (kind of half with Orthodox Ossetians), Kabardino-Balkaria, Karachay-Cherkessia & Adygea. And many more Muslims living all accross the country.
Basically, if there is a mosque, there is halal meat selling somewhere in town.
In Moscow : Russia’s capital has a large community of Caucasians (friendliest people you will meet in Moscow honestly), Tatars and Central Asians inhabitants so you can easily find halal restaurants.
To name a few : Plov House for Uzbek cuisine, Dagestanskaya Lavka for Dagestani food (can be found in few places in Moscow : Tsvetnoy food court, Danilovsky Market and in VDNKh), “Zhy Yest” for Vainakh (Chechen – Ingush) cuisine.
There is also a small food store at the Cathedral Mosque
Across Russia : in large cities, the supermarket chain Auchan (pronounced Ashan in Russia – a French company but didn’t susped their activities with the sanctions) sells halal meat & chicken (the sign says халяль – khalyal) and of course the local baazars and street food markets might sell halal products if there’s even a small Muslim community in town. There are also small food stores often with the names “халял продукмы” (khalyal prokukty) here and there. Look for them on Yandex maps with that russian spelling.
The teahouses Chaikhana are most likely to have Muslim owners/staffs and serve halal meat, but better ask to make sure of it.
You could also choose Muslim friendly options without meat or even seafood & fish nearby Baikal lake and the sea sides like Vladivostok, Sochi etc
Inside the train : Many long distances trains have a restaurant wagon (though notoriously expensive and not that good). It serves all the Russian classic food, unlikely to be halal.
However if the final destinations of you train is Kazan or Grozny and you clearly see that most of the passengers are Tatars or Caucasians, you might get lucky to have halal meat served in the restaurant wagon.
You could always request a vegeterian meal. Offline Google Translate works pretty good from english to russian.
Reminder : you don’t need to be Muslim eat halal food nor to enjoy shashliks and plov !
The Jewish community in Russia is the largest in Europe and there are an estimated of one hundred thousand Jews in Moscow itself. But if you’re an observant Jew, you might have a bit of a tough time eating your way around. I’d recomment to bring your own cooking utensils to prepare your kosher food.
Moscow : No need to bring food from home in your luggages, there are a few kosher supermarkets in Russia’s capital for you to stock up before your train journey : The store Pardes sells kosher products & also has a café on the spot, Kosher Gurmet is a well stocked kosher supermarket, Myasnoy Magazin I Kafe El’yon has a small café on the spot, also sells bread and other pastries.
Your best chance to find Kosher food in Moscow is in Maryina Roshcha district, the Jewish Quarter where the Jewish museum and tolerance center is located in. There are some really nice and pretty trendy Kosher restaurant and bar options in Moscow’s city center such as Dizengoff 99, Mitzva bar.
Across Russia : I’d highly recommend to check out the local Jewish community in the city you travel in, but there are some Kosher/Isreali restaurants in Siberia and the Far east of Russia : Solomon in Yekaterinburg, Yofi in Novosibirsk and Simkha in Birobizhan.
In the train : it comes has no surprise that you won’t find any kosher food on the restaurant wagon’s menu. For not so observant Jews, you can still go for vegeterian friendly meals.
Reminder : you don’t need to be jewish to enjoy schnitzels or challah bread.
Being a vegeterian in Moscow or Saint Petersburg is no issue nowadays, there are plenty of restaurants and cafés with vegeterian options, but it might be odd in some parts of the country for some people who are daily meat eaters like in the Caucasus and Yakutia for example.
However vegeterian food is widely available everywhere in the country and it might come has a surprise but many (can’t certainly said all) restaurant wagons on the Trans-Siberian have a full page of vegeterian meals available on their menu !
Moscow : Russia’s capital city is like any Western city in the world, it has all types of food available and vegeterian one is no exception. There are restaurants and cafés dedicated to it. To name a few: Jagannah, a popular vegeterian chain with a food store on the side, Art Kafé Sok, on your way in or out of the Tretyakov gallery.
Across Russia : inheritage of the Soviet Union and even before that, there are plenty of Russian food that has no meat nor fish in it. To name a few popular ones : kasha, vareniki with potatoes, pirozhki with cabbage, blinis with murshrooms, syrniki etc. You can also buy all the food you need in supermarkets or street markets from fruits to veges to an insanely large choices of dairy products.
In the train : As said above, there is a vegeterian menu in many restaurant wagons on the Trans-Siberian. It’s only one page but eh, at list you’ve got different choices. If not, don’t be afraid to ask the friendly staff. They will make something up for you ! Russian supermarkets and even tiny food stores have a wide range of snacks available, sweet and savoury so make sure to stock up before your next train journey !
Veganism is gaining popularity in Russia too. I have notice in my travels that vegan restaurants/cafés and vegan food is becoming more available in the country. Obviously it’s mostly in big cities but there are commun russian food that is vegan even khough it is not explicitly stated like it.
In Moscow : Russia’s capital has vegan restaurants and cafés, however Saint Petersburg and its hypster vibes has eve more vegan friendly places. Vegan enthusiats are definitely growing among young Russians. HappyCow is listing dozens of places in both cities !
Across Russia : Some cities along the Trans-Siberian railway have vegan restaurants and cafés such as Nizhny Novgorod, Kazan, Yekaterinburg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk and even Vladivosotok ! Search on Yandex “Веганский ресторан” (vegan restaurant).
In really big cities’ supermarkets (naming Magnit & Perekrestok) you might be able to find non dairy milk (Ne moloko is gaining popularity) and tofu but otherwise you can easily find fruits, veges, all sorts of nuts, porridge, dark chocolate (the famous Soviet Мишка косолапый chocolate with the little bears is vegan!), borodinsky bread (rye bread, though hard to come by in non slavic parts of Russia), ready to cook vareniki (those labelled Постные (for the pre-Easter fast) with mashed potatoes and mushrooms.
In the train : as you would expect it, there are no a vegan menu in the restaurant wagons on the Trans-Siberian. But, the vegeterian options can easily be veganized. Don’t be afraid to ask the staff. Get your translator out and they will make something up for you !
Vegan or not, the best is to bring your own food on the train. Stock up from the supermarket before hand, also check the health stores Vkusvill it has many branches around Russia and has quite a lot of vegan options.
Tip : if you can’t find any real vegan restaurant, try a georgian one (very popular accross the crountry), they will have vegan friendly meals. If you can only find a traditionnal russian one, order side dishes like fried potatoes with mushrooms, mashed potatoes, grilled veges, kasha etc