Traveling Russia On A Restricted Diet

WHAT IF I’M GLUTEN-FREE?

More and more often we meet travelers who are on a restricted diet: no sugar, gluten-free, paleo, vegetarian, keto or vegan….and the list goes on!

FOREIGN CONCEPT

For the most part, a restricted eating lifestyle is foreign to Russians. The response tends to be “why on earth would you want to limit what you can eat??” On the other hand, restricting one’s diet for a defined period of time is quite familiar. Every year the Russian Orthodox Church does a 50-day vegan diet (similar to Lent, called “The Great Fast”) leading up to Easter. That being said, Russians are extremely hospitable and go above and beyond to make their guests comfortable, including catering to dietary restrictions.

AVAILABILITY

In Moscow and St. Petersburg, it’s pretty easy now to find gluten-free or vegetarian options at restaurants.  There are even a few vegan restaurants.  Once you get outside of those two cities though, your options for restaurants will be much more limited. Some regions, such as the North Caucasus, have local diets that are heavy on certain types of food like meat, pasta, and bread. However, grocery stores in cities all across the country have a gluten free and/or diabetic friendly section.

YOU CAN DO IT

Sticking to a restrictive diet is challenging in Russia, but don’t let that stop you from coming!  If you have dietary restrictions, we strongly recommend going on an organized tour with a company that will help you find food that you can eat.  Make sure you let the company you go with know far in advance about your specific needs so that they can work with you to make your trip a culinary success.