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Russias Vegetarians Thrive, Despite Prejudice

Published: May 16, 2012 (Issue # 1708)



  • Fruit and vegetables were grown in allotments on New Holland island last summer.
    Photo: ALEXANDER AKSAKOV / SPT

Although vegetarianism is not as popular in Russia as in many Western countries and some Russian psychiatrists even consider some of its forms to be indicators of mental illness, the number of Russian vegetarians and vegans continues to grow.

St. Petersburg resident Lembit Lemsipp, a 33-year-old Russian translator who gave a pseudonym for this article, said his major motivation for becoming a vegan was feeling disgusted with the idea of brutality and torture.

I reckon there was some influence from the hardcore punk scene and the health and environmental benefits of the vegetarian diet were appealing, said Lemsipp, who became a vegan in 1997 when he was 18.

Lemsipp said that now it is quite easy to find most of the vegan food he needs in St. Petersburg.

Vera Kozlovskaya, 30, who teaches at St. Petersburg Polytechnic University, said it took her about five years to make her decision to become a vegetarian.

We always had animals in our family, and my parents taught me to love animals and nature, and at some point I realized it was hypocritical to say that I love animals but at the same time eat them and wear clothes made of leather and fur, Kozlovskaya said.

Kozlovskaya said she then thought that vegetarians were doing the right thing by not eating meat, but she still couldnt make a final decision for herself. She thought she wouldnt be able to avoid eating meat and didnt want to inconvenience her parents, with whom she lived, by making them cook special meals for her.

However, when Kozlovskaya was 22, she came home one day and told her mother that she would not be eating meat anymore. Three years ago, she switched from vegetarianism to veganism. She does not wear clothes made from leather or fur, and tries to avoid buying things made of wool.

Kozlovskaya said her parents soon accepted her choice. The other advantage of her new lifestyle was that she finally learnt to cook herself, she said, and it even became a hobby.

Nadezhda Davydova, a 45-year-old PR manager, became a vegetarian in a completely natural way, as she put it.

In fact, I never felt any particular inclination to eat meat, but would eat barbequed meat at picnics with my friends two or three times a year. Then, 12 years ago, I suddenly noticed that I hadnt eaten any meat for more than a year, just because I didnt feel like it. At that time I would still have fish at my friends for dinner or at a restaurant, but gradually fish also disappeared from my diet, Davydova said.

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ALL ABOUT TOWN

Saturday, Nov. 1


The men and women who dedicate their lives to fitness get their chance to compete for the title of best body in Russia at todays Grand Prix Fitness House PRO, the nations premier bodybuilding competition. Not only will men and women be competing for thousands of dollars in prizes and a trip to represent their nation at Mr. Olympia but sporting goods and nutritional supplements will also be available for sale. Learn more about the culture of the Indian subcontinent during Diwali, the annual festival of lights that will be celebrated in St. Petersburg this weekend at the Culture Palace on Tambovskaya Ul. For 100 rubles ($2.40), festival-goers listen to Indian music, try on traditional Indian outfits and sample dishes highlighting the culinary diversity of the billion-plus people in the South Asian superpower.



Sunday, Nov. 2


Check out the latest video and interactive games at the Gaming Festival at the Mayakovsky Library ending today. Meet with the developers of the popular and learn more about their work, or learn how to play one of their creations with the opportunity to ask the creators themselves about the exact rules.



Monday, Nov. 3


Non-athletes can get feed their need for competition without breaking a sweat at the Rock-Paper-Scissors tournament this evening at the Cube Bar at Lomonosova 1. Referees will judge the validity of each matchup award points to winners while the citys elite fight for the chance to be called the best of the best. Those hoping to play must arrange a team beforehand and pay 200 rubles ($4.80) to enter.



Tuesday, Nov. 4


Attend the premiere of Canadian director Xavier Dolans latest film Mommy at the Avrora theater this evening. The fifth picture from the 25-year-old, it is the story of an unruly teenager but the most alluring (or unappealing) aspect is the way the film was shot: in a 1:1 format that is more reminiscent of Instagram videos than cinematic art. Tickets cost 400 rubles ($9.60) and snacks and drinks will be available.



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