Vegetarianism & veganism in Armenia
It’s hard to say whether being a vegan in Armenia is a tough challenge or a piece of cake. It really depends on how much you are able to spend on food and how fussy you are. I’m a fussy vegan so my vegan life here has turned out to be a bit expensive, in particular, if I wanted to nourish myself properly. After all, you can always eat cabbage, potatoes and some grains. It’s up to you.
Vegan food in Armenia is uncommon, which means it’s overpriced. You can find some products, such as soya/almond/hazelnut milk, soya desserts or tofu (I have never bought it – its price is just astonishing, around 4.000AMD=7,40EUR for, if I’m not mistaken, 100g) in snobbish supermarkets SAS, which only exist in Yerevan. One soya dessert (Alpro Soya) costs around 700AMD (1,30EUR), 1l Soya Milk (Alpro Soya) is about 2.500AMD (4,60EUR), 1l Hazelnut Milk (Alpro Soya) almost 4.000AMD (7,40 EUR). Compared to European prices Armenian ones are really excessive. Nevertheless, you don’t need to buy these products frequently, even in Poland I didn’t use to do it. In SAS you can also purchase avocados (about 900AMD=1,70EUR for a unit), which I’ve never seen anywhere else.
Other foods that can be consumed by vegans but which aren’t vegan on purpose such as rice, buckwheat, millet, lentils and other common legumes can be found almost everywhere (even in Alaverdi). Unfortunately, there’s no brown rice (much more nutritious than its white version and much cheaper than the black one) and of course black rice is extremely expensive (I don’t even remember the price since we bought it only once). Nuts, other protein full foods which are essential in our diet, are of course available all year round in Yerevan and from time to time in small towns (Alaverdi). Another problem is of course their price. (about 8.000AMD 14,90EUR/kg – almonds, cashews etc.).
In different seasons tasty fruits and vegetables spring up at the bazars. In summer it’s easy to find something healthy, juicy and cheap. For example tomatoes cost around 150AMD (0,30EUR) and they are extremely tasty! In the beginning of June Armenians get nuts about their national fruit which is apricot. It’s also very good and cheap (should try it for sure!). Unfortunately in winter the choice of fruits&veggies is no longer so optimistic. There are mainly the same fruits and vegetables which we have in Poland and the prices I guess are similar. Of course when it comes to imported fruits (ex. bananas, grapefruits) the prices are considerably higher. So, I can only recommend you to buy the cheapest fruits and vegetables at the bazars, if they’re cheap it means they’re in their seasons.
There’s a big variety of homemade booze: wines, moonshines are found almost everywhere. Homemade alcohol seems to be the only sure one for vegans. You can get it mainly on the street and the good thing is that it’s cheap. I haven’t checked out whether Armenian beers are vegan or not, but really they’re not worth doing it. I just preferred to give up drinking beers. I have no information about other liquors either and of course I’m almost sure you won’t find cruelty free wines since there are no vegan shops in Armenia.
In restaurants you can always find something vegan. Nevertheless you should be careful and cautious since It’s hard to explain you don’t eat so many things. After long clarifications waiters can always lay a salad with cream sauce down on your table. So every time you should make sure you’re going to get a meal you’re able to enjoy. The good news is that in great majority of Yerevan’s eating places you can have hummus, falafel, tabbouleh which are all vegans.
One place which I would call a vegan friendly fast food is Karas (http://www.karas.am). It’s a franchise which can be found in Yerevan, we also stumbled upon it in Tsaghkadzor. They have some vegan options such as Lenten dolma, vegetable cutlets, lentil soup and maybe something more. Prices are relatively low.
I haven’t come across any vegan bistro/restaurant in Yerevan but I know good places in Tbilisi which are Caucasus Paradise for all those who long for a bit of vegan taste. Luckily Alaverdi is just 2,5h from the Georgian capital. Also it’s not so far from Yerevan so one can always take a marshrutka or just hitchhike to satiate their vegan appetite. There’s a popular café Luka Polare which offers incredibly flavorful ice-creams (fruit flavors are all vegan!), 2 kinds of vegan cakes (cherry pie and apple strudel) and soya milk latte/cappuccino (http://lucapolare.com). There are 4 branches of Luka Polare in the city, one of them, in the very centre of the old town. See for yourself, you won’t regret it! Also, recently, there’s been opened a vegan bistro which serves vegan meals, cakes and drinks. It’s located very close to the Liberty Square (Kiwi Vegan Café, 41 Vertskhli street). We should definitely back up such ventures so dear vegans, if you’re in Tbilisi don’t hesitate to pop in to Kiwi Vegan Café.
You can find some organic Russian brands such as Planeta Organica, Organic Shop, Natura Siberica or Babushka Agafia which mainly contain vegetal ingredients. I’m not sure neither where the ingredients come from nor whether they’ve been tested on animals or not but it’s also hard to get this kind of information from the brands available in Europe. Who said that being a vegan was easy? In Yerevan there are also Yves Rocher shops. As for the detergents, we’ve been using Frosch products. You can find them almost everywhere. They offer washing-up liquids, bathroom/toilet cleaners, gel/powder detergents and so on.
I WAS IN ARMENIA FROM OCT 2014 TILL OCT 2015