We got a thing for Eastern Europe here at Antagonist — our guide for a long (and very vegan) weekend in Warsaw is proof to that. But there’s another super exciting and vibrant city east of our homebase Berlin we can’t wait to explore more; The Ukrainian capital.
It’s Kyiv, not Kiev
Okay, to get aspiring travelers off of some thin ice, first things first: While the spelling Kiev is more widely known, it’s the transliteration of the city’s name in Russian — and while this is still debated (and quite emotionally, too), we suggest to use the modern (and official) Ukrainian name. Especially if you want to hang with the locals. So Kyiv. Check!
Why that’s important you ask? Well, with a history of being in the middle of iconic power struggles again and again, the city first was nearly completely destroyed in World War II, only to find itself under Soviet rule in the post-war years. It was only after the breakdown of the Soviet Union that Kyiv became the capital of a now-independent Ukraine.
”Using the proper name is a symbol of overcoming Russian influence.“
Hence, using the proper name is a symbol of the overcoming of Russian influence, holds a lot of weight and is not to be underestimated.
Rich Tradition meets Contemporary City Life
It’s that mix of rich Orthodox traditions juxtaposed against a history of constant invasion, architectural tradition and contemporary makeovers, Kitsch and Eastern-European elegance that makes Kyiv a secret tip for the early adopters, always on to the next one.
And that goes for the young vegan scene of the city, as well.
Overall, the quality of whole plant foods is extraordinary, because of the soil quality of the area, so it’s very easy to get organic local fruits, vegetables and legumes with outstanding taste. Unfortunately, most Ukrainians still follow a very traditional, meat-heavy diet. But in recent years, the number of vegan or predominantly plant-based locations has sykrocketed and since hospitality is a core value in the Ukraine, you can find vegan options almost everywhere.
There are too many great spots to feature them all, but that’s what our “Minute”-series is for: One great pick of a great city, as in “if you only have a minute in Kyiv, maybe go here.”
So in this piece, we’ll be diving in with one of our Kyiv favorites: Bali Bowl.
Smoothie Bowls and Matcha Ice Cream
This cafe, deeply inspired by Balinese culture (as the name kind of gives away), is located right in the heart of the Ukrainian capital. If you’re in the mood for a spontaneous trip to a tropical island, Bali Bowl brings you there any time of the year.
Though not a 100% vegan establishment, Bali Bowl is dishing out predominantly plant-based offerings and offers homemade smoothie bowls, plant-based milks, tofu cheese-cakes and, our favorite, vegan matcha ice-cream.
“Some lunchtime peace in the middle of a busy city.”
The concept here is to integrate more whole plant foods into people’s diets and we’re all here for that. Additionally, a stay here, with that strong Bali vibe they’ve got going, is just perfect for some lunchtime peace in the middle of a busy city.
Located one one of Kyiv’s main streets right in the city center, Bali Bowl is just a short walk from Khreschatyk street and 15 minutes from up-and-coming Golden Gate district (the trendy part of town for the hipsters and techno lovers).
If you’re in town, check them out!