Lviv is certainly one of the cheapest places to live in Eastern Europe, and also home to the most beautiful old city centre I've ever seen. The cost of living is so affordable here that it's not surprising so many expats end up staying in Lviv long term.
Even though the vegan options in Lviv don't compare to that of first world countries, there is more than enough here to keep you satisfied if you know where to look.
The English level is generally very poor in Ukraine, and especially so in Lviv, which sucks for dating, but placing orders in English at all the following restaurants and cafe's was never a problem.
Due to the minimal vegan options available in Lviv, if you are planning on staying for longer than a few weeks you might want some advice from another post I made called The Surprising Benefits of Living in Vegan Un-Friendly Cities.
Vegetarian, many vegan options
Green Cafe was by far our most visited restaurant in Lviv - we ate here 40 consecutive days in a row. Why? Well, for their great range of food and their affordable prices, of course.
Almost their entire menu is vegan - and almost everything that isn't can be veganised by asking. While the general English level in Lviv is not the best, there was always at least one English speaking staff member on duty that could handle our sometimes strangely specific orders.
This photo of my favourite breakfast menu item, the vegan pancakes with flaxseed, chocolate paste and blueberries is taken from The Vomad Instagram account.
The menu at Green changes with the seasons. We were there as winter turned into spring and watched the menu change and simultaneously kissed several of our most favourite meals goodbye. So while the specific meals that I am basing this glowing review on might not ever come back again in the same form, the quality of the food maintained should be maintained.
During our stay, we ate at Green's for every meal of the day, so we experienced all parts of the menu - nearly every vegan item from their breakfast, lunch, dinner and dessert sections was ordered by us during our stay. Which is not too surprising considering we ate there every day consecutively for more than two weeks. Of course we preferred certain things to others, but generally, the quality of all their meals was as good as any in the city, especially for the price you pay.
Broccoli, capsicum (peppers), white rice and tofu covered in a delicious sauce that doesn't look like much, but made this healthy meal something memorable.
A stand out feature of Greens Cafe is their epic store section you pass through as you enter the restaurant. Considering it's a specialty veg-grocery-store, the prices here were very good. Some things, like black rice, being better value than the main supermarket in town (featured below). Click here to see what is available in the Green Store on their website.
The store, like the restaurant, is not 100% vegan, but it's very close to it. It contains lots of hard to find vegan groceries like several flavours or tofu, boxes of Mazafati dates from Iran, lots of dried berries, three types of dried lentils, a huge range of spices, heaps of grains and wholemeal pastas, packets of vegan chips, two types of hummus, a few types of peanut butter, and fresh bakery goods delivered every day including banana bread, muffins and other wholemeal breads.
One of our favourite things on the menu at Greens was the falafel wrap with added hummus.
We felt so at home at Greens Cafe that we left a long letter to the owner praising them on having the best vegetarian-but-vegan-friendly restaurant in the whole city, while letting them know how easy it would be to veganise their entire menu and inviting them to watch "Dairy is Scary" on YouTube for some inspiration. We did not witness this having any effect on their menu, but you shouldn't let their support of animal cruelty affect your decision to enjoy some of the best vegan options in the city either.
Om Nom Nom
If you're vegan and only get to eat at one restaurant in Lviv, I'd make it the 100% vegan Om Nom Nom - arguably the best-named restaurant in the world and certainly the restaurant with the best cruelty-free range in Lviv.
Their menu consists of a 100% vegan range of appetizers, salads, veggie-based bowls, bruschettas, wraps, burgers, hot dogs, cocktails, smoothies, lemonade, beer, wine, coffee, tea, desserts and a soup of the day.
The adorable staff all seemed to speak good English, so ordering here was always a breeze.
This 100% cruelty-free breakfast might not look vegan upon first glance, but I can assure you no animal was used in the making of this epic meal.
The restaurant is bigger than most we went to in Lviv, but it's so popular that on weekend nights finding a seat can still be a little tricky.
After placing your order and hopefully finding a seat, if you want to you can choose from their range of new and vintage vinyl, put your chosen album on their record player hanging on the wall and let the whole restaurant enjoy an album of your choice. A very cool idea, I think.
Om Nom Nom can make their meals for dine-in or takeaway.
Om Nom Nom hosts events every now and then, including hosting a live DJ in the store on some weekend nights. This effectively turns the whole restaurant into a party, which, while it can make ordering a little more difficult, it also creates a very memorable vibe you don't come across too often in restaurants.
Vegan burger with plant-based cheese, crispy sweet potato fries and some white wine. Vegan with class!
All in all, Om Nom Nom is an excellent place to eat. 100% vegan, a great range of food, very friendly staff and a unique atmosphere inside the store all add up to my highest recommendation for Lviv.
They open Mon-Sun 08.00 am - 10.00 pm.
Dogs Like Ducks
The sign you see while entering this unique cafe claims their food is "107% vegan", which makes about as much sense as the name of this hot-dog-only cafe does.
But you know when a store sells only one type of product - be it coffee, salads or hot dogs - they usually have that one product nailed to a "T", and Dogs Like Ducks is the perfect example of this.
The hot-dog on the left if my personal favourite, the "Husky", which comes with the seitan sausage, canned beans, tomato, carrot, pickled cucumber, basil, American sauce and chia seeds.
They use the same delicious seitan sausage in all 5 varieties (plus changing specials) of their very reasonably priced hot dog varieties, its the toppings and the type of bun you choose (regular or yeast-free) that differ.
The toppings of their hot dogs are much more deluxe than those that come to mind when you think of the classic American hot dog. For example, the "Pit Bull" hotdog comes with their standard, very meat-like seitan sausage that would fool any meat-eater, covered with tofu, cabbage, carrot, radish/pomegranate seeds, lettuce, olives and 1000 island dressing. A little more exciting than processed meat and two sauces, isn't it?
In addition to their dogs, they also sell a range of coffee's and tea's as well as lemonade, milkshakes and desserts. All vegan, of course.
Click here to see their full menu with all ingredients, drinks and prices for all their hot dogs at the time of writing this.
There is a nice range of board-games to enjoy during the short wait while the friendly staff prepare your dog.
There is a fridge in the store that offers takeaway soy milk, tofu, chocolates, falafels, hummus and the same seitan sausages they use in the store to make your own creations at home.
Markets & Farmers Markets
If you are staying around the city centre (the old town), which I highly suggest seeing as it's truly beautiful, then the nearby Halytsky Farmers Market will have you covered for nearly all of your whole-food needs.
They sell all the fresh, seasonal fruit and vegetables, berries (fresh and dried) and nuts you could need. There is a section that sells a lot of dead animals too, and smells appropriately horrible, but it's easy to avoid.
Directly next door to the farmers market is an underground supermarket called Arsen that has packaged goods like rice and lentils, as well as cheap frozen vegetables and berries, (and everything else you'd expect from a supermarket) which makes the farmers market and this supermarket an easy stop to get all your groceries at once.
However, for rice, lentils, pasta, tofu, bread, spices, vegan dips, sauces and other refrigerated goods, I would suggest shopping at the Green Cafe store section featured above rather than either of these stores. Not only is Green a more ethical company so more deserving of your money, but their stuff is usually better value too. Soy milk was very rare in Lviv, but the best around the city centre was found at Dogs Like Ducks (featured above) when we were here.
In addition to these markets are the countless miniature "illegal" roadside stalls set up by the elderly locals. These "stalls" (which is a generous term - their produce is just laid out on the ground, usually in bags or buckets) sell things like spring onion and other herbs, spinach and lots of other green leafy vegetables, and strawberries.
As far as I can tell, this is all grown in their own backyard, so everything they sell is seasonal and much fresher than the produce in the supermarkets - and cheaper too. For a number of reasons, I recommend supporting these independent locals over any big business.
Vegetarian, with vegan options
Soup Culture is a soup-only store with a twist - each of their creamy, vegetarian or vegan soups is served to you in a deliciously edible cup.
Similar to Dogs Like Ducks, featured above, Soup Culture specialise in one thing and one thing only - soup - and they sure know how to make it right.
The edible cup is not just a cheap gimmick either, it tastes great and compliments the soup perfectly. If you're lucky you will get there just after a fresh batch of cups has been made to experience Soup Culture at it's finest (one of these times seemed to be around 4:20 PM when we were there).
Soup Culture is an entirely vegetarian store, meaning there is no animal flesh on the premises, but they do use cows milk. Out of the 3 soups they have on offer every day, usually at least one is vegan, and if the lentil soup is there - go for that one!
The limited seating (only four stools) and take-away-ready cups make Soup Culture appear just as perfectly designed for busy people who want a small meal on-the-go as it is for hungry travellers in need a wholesome snack.
Vegetarian, many vegan options
Little Green is owned by the same people who own Green Cafe, featured above. Unsurprisingly, Little Green is a much smaller store with a smaller but entirely different menu that seems to be much more suited for takeaway meals.
They serve different types of noodles and soups in takeaway ready containers, tea, coffee, falafels and various desserts, some of which are suitable for vegans. Nearly everything on the menu (except deserts, which are pre-made) should be able to be made vegan upon request. When we were there, the lady taking our order spoke good English, which obviously made things a lot easier.
We do not consider Little Green a replacement for Green Cafe, but a great alternative if you want something quick or just to mix it up with some different meals.
Vegetarian, vegan options
The sign out the front of the store accurately describes the restaurant as having "Good Coffee and Fancy Food," and while I don't drink coffee, experience has taught me what usually comes along with fancy food: excellent taste, great service and small portions. Dreamers Place nailed all three.
They serve coffee, cake, juice, open face sandwiches, soups, salads, squeezed juices other other European, Fusion and Polish dishes.
Dreamers Palace is a solid restaurant by all means and can't really be faulted other than it's lack of vegan options. For vegans, anywhere else on this list (except Soup Culture) would give you more options, it just might not come with the "fancy" vibe that Dreamers Place does.
You know a restaurant is fancy when it serves roasted peaches. 😍
We properly checked out Dreamers Place one night when everything else was closed and had a good meal, but despite not at all being disappointed, considering the other options in Lviv mentioned above, we never came back for more. It's not that it was bad experience in and of itself, the other places were just comparatively much better overall - pretty much exclusively due to having more options.
PS. Except where noted, all photos on this page are taken from the corresponding businesses facebook or instagram page. All sources have been linked and I'm not pretending to own any of them... I just like them.