Friday, April 18, 2008

Lent and Russian Pickles

Having spent 13 years in Canada, Pasha Voytinsky moved back to Russia in 1994 to find much tolerance towards vegetarianism in the country of pelmeni and cutlets. Other vegetarian Muscovites have discovered that contrary to popular belief, Russians are far less of meat eaters than could be expected.
Whether due to the increasingly popular healthy lifestyle trend or to religious beliefs, Lent is becoming ever more popular in Russia. Every other person having lunch these spring days will claim that they are not having meat or fish, but fasting.
Having been born in Britain, Neil McGowan finds this astonishing. “I could easily think of 15 people who stick to the rules of Veliky Post [Lent] and don’t eat meat or fish. Come to think of it, it’s more like 50 percent of the people I know.”
In Russia, vegetarianism is often merged with the idea of Lent, but these two concepts are fundamentally different. “The essence of Lent is asceticism, curbing your desires. Hunger is a metaphor for a spiritual hunger,” said Voytinsky. “Vegetarianism is not about infringing on your interests, but about not hurting the little animals. Vegetarianism is utilitarian.” (read more...)

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