"I have always been grateful for the generosity of the Doukhobor people to the Japanese during the war. As a child in Slocan I well remember the vegetable wagons that were our only source of fresh food. I also remember a beautiful Doukhoubor girl who was one of the few white children who would talk to me. Needless to say, I had a mad crush on her." -David T. Suzuki
Doukhobors cherish their food customs. The preparation and sharing of food are communal events that strengthen their senses of purpose and feeling of belonging. Doukhobor cuisine is largely vegetarian and soups (especially borsch) are Doukhobor specialties. Prayers and songs are customary before and after meals.
Are Doukhobors Vegetarian Today?
Some are and some aren't. Even in Russia, not all were vegetarian. But, in preparation for the "burning of arms" in 1895, they decided to become vegetarian. In communal villages in Canada, Doukhobors remain vegetarian. On independent farms, many began eating meat and raising livestock. Today, Doukhobors in British Columbia are more likely to be vegetarian than those in Saskatchewan.
Isn't Borsch a Russian Dish?
Yes and no. Doukhobor borsch originated in Russia but it is quite different from borsch made in Russia today.
Russian borsch is made with a meat-base stock and is true to its name, which means beetroot soup. It is usually beet-red in colour and is sometimes served cold, often with a dollop of sour cream.
While each cook has a variation, Doukhobor borsch is vegetarian, made with tomatoes, cabbage, onions, potatoes, plenty of dill and one tiny token beet. It is orange in colour and is always served hot, usually without sour cream.