Last time I checked I was still alive. And I stopped eating meat. “That’s crazy!” I hear you thinking. Sure thing, but it has been over 6 months now and it’s actually been great. I wasn’t eating that much meat before moving to Stockholm, so it wasn’t a huge transition. I did make it a point to start on my day of arrival. Just because it’s much easier to introduce yourself as a vegetarian to new people than explaining someone you’ve known for a long time why you were nibbling on a chicken yesterday and why you wouldn’t today. Of course each to it’s own, so I won’t bother you with the deeper motives behind it :p, but what I actually want to say is how easy it has been to make this change and why Stockholm is the reason for that! I asked some classmates on their opinions as well, so here we go:
1. It is way cheaper!
When you live in Sweden you will cook yourself most of the time to reduce costs. You need to read just one price menu at a bar or restaurant to figure this out. The supermarkets offer everything you need. When I come into the store, I can skip whole rayons and fridges with meat and fish. And believe me, in Stockholm/Sweden, that will make a huge difference in your wallet! My friend Blanca even told me that “Some of my corridor neighbours are ‘Stockholm vegetarians’, meaning that they don’t eat much meat, just because it’s expensive…”.
And if you like an ‘official’ meat replacement you can get that for sure! “The stores in Stockholm are quite good in offering substitutes. There is soy, quorn, oumph, tofu and so on in most stores, making it easy to substitute meat. The last two years the offer of non-animal products has really exploded! You know you can even get cream, cheese and all this stuff without any milk in.. weird right?” (Sophie from Sweden).
My friend Radhika from India also pointed out the presence of all the labelling schemes on products in the Swedish supermarkets. “I feel very happy to learn where my vegetarian food comes from- as Swedish grocery stores have eco-labels, fair-trade labels and many other kinds of labels that I am yet to learn about.” Depending on your motives for eating vegetarian, this could be very beneficial for you as well.
2. You can still go to restaurants!
Almost all the restaurants have vegetarian options, and there are also many places that are purely vegetarian/vegan:
A place that I have been to a few times now is Kalf & Hansen. Here you can get delicious vegetariska frikadeller (a vegetarian variant of meatballs), served with a fresh salad and fries. All their products are also seasonal, so they are playing the sustainability game as well!
Down in Gamla Stan you can head over to Hermitage, or when you’re in Södermalm you can go to Hermans, where you get a whole vegetarian buffet (see photo) with delicious deserts and a stunning view by the water! My friends also advised me Chutney, and even Fotografiska (the museum for photography, that you must check out) would serve delicious vegetarian dishes.
For vegans: there is a map of places in and around Stockholm where vegan options are served!
3. People don’t necessarily think you are starving from only eating salad and turning into a plant yourself. (At least most of the time)
Radhika explained it brilliantly: “Coming from India, I have never had to give being vegetarian a second thought. I am from a Hindu family which means that I was born vegetarian. I have never eaten meat. Coming to Stockholm has changed my perception of vegetarianism. Apart from the traditional and cultural values I held about it (of which I have negligible historic knowledge), I now look at the positive impact vegetarianism can have on your health directly and indirectly (as being non-vegetarian puts more pressure on land used for cultivating feed for fattening up animals. This comes at a cost of deforestation and use of fertilizers, which has a negative impact on the climate). I was amazed to see the ease with which you can find vegetarian food in a traditionally meat-eating country due to their knowledge about reasons for climate change. A high percentage of Swedes are either cutting down on meat, turning vegetarian or even vegan! So I would say that being a vegetarian in Stockholm has been a whole different experience from being a vegetarian back home. It has been more meaningful!”
So, there is the enormous relief of not having to face jokes during every meal about causing pain to the poor carrots! (Blanca). (I have to say I bite them pretty hard though :s) Overall, Stockholm is the best city I ever lived in or travelled to concerning healthy, organic, vegan food-life-style.. Overall people know what veganism is and are happy to help if you have special requirements. (Sophie)
And all this is why I am not too worried about a future without meat on my plate. That said, this potato is calling it a night! Over and out!
(Or am I turning into a vegetable after all? :s)