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Veganism expanding to Russia’s North

June 13, 10:14 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Vegans tell TASS it is truly tough to observe such dietary lifestyles in the Far North, but even there healthy eating alternatives are possible

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© Artyom Geodakyan/TASS

MOSCOW, June 13. /TASS/. Followers of veganism - a practice of abstaining from use of animal products and associated philosophy that rejects the commodity status of animals - have appeared in Russia’s northern territories, including in the Yamalo-Nenets, Khanty-Mansi and Tyumen Regions. Vegans tell TASS it is truly tough to observe such dietary lifestyles in the Far North, but even there healthy eating alternatives are possible.

TASS reveals how vegans tackle their dietary lifestyles in Russia's northern regions.

Veganism in minus 40

Marina Tikhomirova lives in Nyagan (Khanty-Mansi). For two years, she has not eaten meat or fish, and recently has abstained from all animal products.

"I turned away from (my) earlier way of living in one day - after I saw a few films on the topic," she said. "I stopped eating meat, fish and seafood."

According to her, in a small northern city it is quite difficult to find affordable equivalents to vegan food. "I live in a small city, where vegan goods are rare, but I do search for them," she said. "Sometimes, shops offer vegetable milk - a small pack is about 25 rubles ($0.32), a one-litter pack is 200-300 rubles ($3.19-4.79). Grain yoghurt is about 100 rubles ($1.6), and it may be in only one shop throughout the city."

She still uses wool, fur and down - and feels fine in severe winters. "Minus 45 is a regular winter temperature here," she continued. "I used to wear clothes, which I had bought earlier, but now I think about how down and fur are made, and I want to get ethical clothes."

Vegans in the Yamalo-Nenets Region say despite the existing problems they manage to buy useful products and save reindeer lives, since they do not eat their meat or do not wear clothes made of their skins or fur.

Vegans surf the Net

Polina Keres, who lives in Tyumen, abstained from meat in 2011.

"I have to do thorough work when choosing products at supermarkets, as the quality of vegetables is not good, except in the summertime," she said. "In this city, there are no places, where you can buy health food, and some eco-stores jack up prices, thus I have to make online orders."

"Being a vegan could be great in Georgia, (where) fruit is available year-round, and the national cuisine offers many vegetarian dishes," she noted. "In Canada, it is even worse than in Russia, as all the product are absolutely artificial and prices are extremely high, though they have well-developed infrastructure for the vegans."

Every time that she returns home from traveling, she faces the problem - more followers, but there is no place for them to be.

"Every time that I returned to Tyumen, I realized we do not have here a place with a good vegetarian menu, though the number of people with similar outlooks has been growing in line with the global tendency towards healthy food," she told TASS. "My friend and I decided then to open a cafe - we presented our project at an investment fair, and now we are negotiating investment and rent for the first vegetarian cafe in Tyumen."

According to the vegan, despite the refusal to eat animal products, she still has enough energy, since she is very active in sports. "I do not have problems with energy, I have been living like this for seven years, and I get all my nutritional requirements from vegetarian food," she said. "My recent medical tests have indicated that everything is fine, though I have a certain shortage of vitamin D. That said, we practically do not have any sunny days here, and a third face this problem."

How scientists help

According to Vladimir Popov of the Tyumen Industrial University, veganism in northern regions is acceptable for people, who are not involved in hard physical labor.

"If people live in Arctic and sub-Arctic conditions and are not involved in hard physical labor, then veganism is possible for them, because in Arctic and sub-Arctic areas many plants and berries grow," he noted. "They may be used for making bread, various soups, and desserts."

According to the expert, scientists have different methods to extract valuable biological ingredients from plants, and then have them mixed in a biochemical reactor. "This way, we receive combinations for different purposes: to support the immune system, to boost stress-resistance, improve the memory, focus; and all those combinations could be used for everyday nourishment to correct the share of vitamins and minerals," he explained. "This method may be used for making nutrition for vegetarians."

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