A Vegan & Vegetarian Guide for Sweden

What comes to your mind when you first think about Sweden and food? 

Meatballs (köttbullar)? Crayfish? Surströmming? Well, according to the study ↗️ that might be changing very soon. A survey has a striking outcome that every one in ten, in Sweden, is vegetarian or vegan.

Inevitably, it looks like Sweden goes vegan. So, what is even better? Food is not the only case. Also, cosmetics, body & skincare products, and toiletries have a broad range of alternatives suitable for vegans.

Take a look at this lovely video to see how easy grocery shopping as a vegetarian in Sweden! Also, check out previous blog posts written by Elke and Raghuraman about being a vegetarian/vegan in Sweden; both did a great job!

Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

1. Vegetarian & Vegan Food

It is quite natural to bring meals in food boxes for lunch either at work or campus. Besides, almost every restaurant has a decent lunch menu with favourable prices. There are plenty of restaurants where you can have healthy and tasty preferences. It’s not expensive and exclusive for particular places. Almost every restaurant have at least one vegetarian substitution for all meals with meat. Basically, vegetarian food is everywhere.

Even though I am not a vegetarian,  also not a big fan of meat. Back home, I was eating a mostly vegetarian diet, rarely including meat. I noticed that I started to eat more vegetarian food after I moved to Sweden. What makes this possible is that almost all restaurants have vegetarian options. Groceries are full of various kind of vegetarian & vegan food. Even for special events, parties, there is always at least one vegetarian, vegan substitute.

Person holding a tray of food produce.
Photo: Tina Stafrén/imagebank.sweden.se

Recently, one of my classmates Hui organized an amazing Chinese New Year Party. We celebrated the Chinese New Year on the 3rd of February, surrounded by delicious food and all together. There were three different kinds of dumplings on the menu. Of course with vegan and vegetarian alternatives. Here is the menu with her fantastic drawings!

Hand-written menu.
Photo: Hui
  • Dumpling NO 1: Mixed pork and beef mince with tomato.
  • Dumpling NO 2:  Vegetarian; sweet potato noodles with eggs and carrots.
  • Dumpling NO 3: Vegan and gluten-free; with tofu & mushroom which was delicious!
Menu at a restaurant.
Standard lunch menu with two vegetarian alternatives at restaurant / Photo: Hazal

So, it is not a surprise that every kind of food preference is respected. Huh?

What About Groceries?

Especially, in supermarkets, it’s quite easy to find vegetarian and vegan stuff. Every kind of food has its vegetarian or vegan alternatives. Almond milk, tofu, vegan burger, vegan tacos, lasagne even vegetarian sushi… Another thing that I love how common are ecological and fair-trade products in all groceries. I have a confession to make at this point. I’m literally addicted to herbal teas. Echinacea, turmeric, ginger-lemon, green tea with liquorice… JUST GIVE ME ANY KIND OF HERBAL TEAS!!! Almost every tea and coffee brand have quite informative explanations in the labels where and how these herbs come from. Overall, vegan&vegetarian, sustainable, ecological, fair trade products hold a distinguishable place in the food industry in Sweden.

Lately, I have been trying to cook by myself to save some money. Somehow, I am still not a millionaire. I like cooking but only if it is not too much time-consuming. A frozen meal bought from the supermarket not a great option. Thankfully, vegetarian alternatives turn into a lifesaver. They are budget-friendly, easy to cook, delicious and above all, I have a meatless meal.

Shelves of frozen vegetarian food in a supermarket.
Photo: Hazal

Frozen food section reserved for vegan, vegetarian stuff at the grocery store. Vegan schnitzel, meatballs, falafel and more.

A packet of vegetarian meatballs.
Photo: Hazal

Even sweets.

Shopping basket full of food.
Photo: Hazal
Selection of vegan sweets in a pick'n'mix.
Photo: Hazal
Close up of tubs of vegan ice cream.
Photo: Hazal

Quick tip for grocery shopping… Before buying vegetarian food you might need a dictionary. In food labels, ingredients usually written in Swedish.

2. Vegan Toiletry Items

From food to body& skincare products vegan alternatives are always accessible. Most of the beauty shops have organic, cruelty-free, vegan stuff such as shampoo, toothpaste, shower gel, hand cream and more… Plus, they smell so good! One of the world’s most sustainable countries, Sweden ↗️ does not consume recklessly rather puts noteworthy effort to make the world more sustainable! Food, cosmetics, clothing all industries have to take responsibility for that. In this regard, my fellow digital ambassadors Katharina  and Yen wrote a remarkable blog post about sustainability and second-hand shopping in Sweden.

Close up of vegan shampoo bottles.
Photo: Hazal
Shelves of vegan beauty items.
Photo: Hazal
Close up of vegan toothpaste.
Photo: Hazal

Three months ago, my vegetarian sister Elif currently studying in Poland visited me. I exactly remember what she said: “How easy to live as a vegetarian here in Sweden!” After all, it seems her food preferences have directed her destination for further studies towards Sweden. So far, I am still not a vegetarian but obviously, quite pleased that I’ had cut down both meat consumption and products of animal origin in my diet. The truth is vegetarian & vegan food is way better than I could ever imagine.


Written by Hazal

16 Feb 2019