Vega Room is a vegan restaurant in Lviv, a city in western Ukraine close to the Polish border, that is now serving free vegan meals to around 200 war refugees a day. About 200,000 people fleeing from the most dangerous regions of the country have settled temporarily in Lviv, Ukraine’s seventh biggest city.

Vitaly, the owner of the restaurant, told The Independent “It’s just regular soups, or we’ll do some cereals like buckwheat, rice, and some meat substitution; we just use tofu, falafel, which are very useful, actually. And people are very satisfied with them… But on the other hand, there is actually a problem with those products, especially with tofu and with some meat substitution, because it’s difficult to find them right now…Nothing works now, so yeah, we cannot get all the needed products from Ukraine. And now I am asking my friends to send me some products.” 

About a month ago, Vitaly announced the closure of Vega Room because of the threat of Covid and a war with Russia would not make it a profitable business, but the non-profit Vegan Ukraine approached them asking them to convert it into a kitchen for refugees, which they happily agreed. The restaurant’s rent has been temporarily suspended by Lviv’s authorities because of the war. Vitaly hopes to fully reopen Vega Room when the war ends: “I want to open as soon as possible. But right now I think we can have two conditions; the place can be closed and give some taxes, or the place can be open and feed refugees and I think this is what is most appropriate for us right now.” It’s great to see how the vegan spirit has not been broken down by this terrible war. Perhaps when the war is over vegans all over the world may visit the city and eat at this restaurant. 

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.