I’ll start with saying this: being vegan in Kazakhstan isn’t easy. The locals love their meat here AND dairy. They barely understand what vegetarian means, let alone vegan. But! I found a few places where you could eat vegan food. It’s just a bit trickier than usual, but definitely not impossible. If you’re vegetarian, you’ll have a much easier time since most cafes offer at least one vegetarian option. I tried a few places and also asked my friends around, and here’s the best vegan and vegetarian restaurants that we found in Almaty.
Address: Abylai Khan Ave 39, Almaty 050000
This was actually the first restaurant I visited in Almaty because my couchhost recommended it to me. They mostly serve Indian food here but everything’s vegetarian. There are some vegan options on the menu, but just make sure that there are absolutely no animalistic products in the food. I ordered a small daal set and thought it would be vegan, but there were some cheese in one dish. The food was really good but situated a bit outside the city center, so I didn’t have the time to visit it more than once. Unfortunately. For that daal set, I paid 1,200 tenge, which is about 3€. Really affordable, in other words. It’s one of the few all vegetarian restaurants in the city so I really recommend visiting it, even if you eat meat.
Address: Dostyk Ave 341, Almaty 050020 (Inside the Wellness Centre)
I went here because it’s the only vegan restaurant in town and it’s also all raw food. I thought I’d at least try to be a bit healthy and was eager to try this place since it got good reviews. First of all: it was quite difficult to find it. I took a taxi from the city center because it’s a bit outside. It’s basically situated inside this wellness complex and the restaurant is very small. I had to ask at least 4 people before I found it. Once I sat down, I realized that the prices were European. I should’ve seen it coming, but… I ordered a raw spaghetti bolognese for 3,500 tenge. It tasted good but the portion was small. I came hungry and left hungry… It’s not a bad place, and I really enjoyed chatting with the owners son who told me about their business, but I didn’t go there again. It was too pricey for me. But if you’re vegan, it’s a good alternative.
Address: ул. Казыбек би 40/85, уг. ул. Кунаева, Kazybek Bi St 40/85, Almaty
NOT a vegetarian or vegan restaurant, but they serve Georgian food here that you should definitely try. If you’re a vegetarian, you can try the flatbread with cheese and egg here. It’s delicious! It’s also on the pricier side, but worth it if you’re into Georgian food.
Address: Panfilov Street, Панфилова 98 98, Almaty 050000
I didn’t get the chance to eat at Namaste, but my friend recommended it to me and told me there are plenty of vegetarian options there. It’s an Indian restaurant, but you can also get Thai and Chinese food there.
Eat at cafes
Most of the cafes in Almaty will have at least one vegetarian option for you. They might even be able to prepare something vegan for you but I wouldn’t count on it. Some cafes have salads but it’s usually with cheese or meat (or both). You can always ask without it but then you might end up with a plate with tomatoes and salad only. Still, I found the cafes to be way more vegetarian friendly than most restaurants. They usually serve different types of vegetable soups, pasta, pizza and even vegetarian hamburgers (Daily Coffee has it). Some of the soups might contain dairy though so if you’re vegan, ask first.
Hit the markets
You can always go to the supermarkets and shop your own food. If you go to the big grocery stores such as Ramstore or Gal in Dostyk Plaza, you’ll likely find some soy and oat milk products for example. There’s a ton of fresh vegetables here as well and you can find all “normal” products here too such as pasta, couscous, different types of sauces, spices, fruits, veggies, etc. You should also pay a visit to the Green Bazaar, where you can find all kinds of dried fruits and nuts.
Even if some dishes don’t contain meat, a lot of it is cooked with meat. If you’re sensitive to this, you have to be clear that it can’t contain any meat whatsoever. For example, I asked this local restaurant if they had a dish without meat (niet miet) and the owner said they could serve me plov. Thing is, plov is usually cooked with meat so even if you won’t get any meat on your plate, the rice has most likely been boiled with meat. Especially if you go to a very local restaurant. So just be a bit more careful in Kazakhstan because it’s still quite a foreign concept for them, to not eat meat. They’re really open minded towards it though and I feel like in a few years, you’ll be able to travel easily in Almaty if you’re a vegan or vegetarian.