Vegan In Sweden

Being vegetarian and vegan in Sweden: Why it’s one of the best places to go green & eat clean

When people think of Swedish cuisine, they usually picture meat delicacies like Wallenbergare (meat patty) and Köttbullar (Swedish meatballs) and a host of other dishes. To the unacquainted visitor, finding vegetarian food and being vegan in Sweden may seem as challenging as searching for trolls in a forest, but… 

The good news is that Sweden is now considered one of the most vegetarian and vegan-friendly countries globally. Restaurants and grocery stores around the country are increasingly catering to this growing segment by widening the selection for consumers. 

With some research and planning, you’ll find plenty of meatless food options that will delight your taste-buds. Enhance your visit to the lush landscapes of Sweden by sampling the wide range of vegetarian and vegan fare that it has to offer.

Vegan In Sweden

Why is vegan and vegetarian food in Sweden rising in popularity?

Sweden’s penchant for meat-heavy dishes is still entrenched in the food culture. IKEA isn’t going to stop serving meatballs anytime soon and many Swedes aren’t going to give up their reindeer burgers and Midsommar meat pies just yet. 

However, the latest stats show that Swedes are eating a lot less meat than they used to and are opting for more plant-based options. 

A study by the Swedish Board of Agriculture reveals that in 2017 the country saw the largest decline in meat consumption since 1990 and that every Swede is eating 4 ½ lbs. less meat than the previous year.   

Among Swedes who aren’t vegetarian or vegan, those who showed interest in plant-based diets increased from 27% in 2015 to 35% in 2018, according to a survey done by Statista. They are also more careful about where their meat is sourced from.

There are a couple of reasons that explain this trend. First, it reflects on the global trend of a rising interest in a plant-based diet. Concerns about planetary sustainability, personal health and the ethical treatment of animals have fueled people’s desire to know more. 

According to recent data, countries like Norway, Germany and Belgium, 7-12% of adults identify as vegetarian, while 14% of Brits in the UK claim that they don’t eat meat. The U.S. is lower at 5% but it still has one of the highest number of vegetarians. 

The COVID-19 pandemic accelerated this trend with more people switching to a healthier immunity-boosting diet often associated with anti-inflammatory foods like vegetables and fruits.

Second, Swedes are very conscious about how their lifestyle impacts the environment. Locally sourced meat is one of the highest contributors to carbon emissions — one of the biggest culprits for climate change. 

This reality has inspired Swedes to do their part in combating climate change by cutting down on their meat consumption. 

Sweden’s public health body has also been educating young people and adults about the benefits of a balanced and nourishing diet, advising them to opt for more plant-based options. 

There are several popular vegan and vegetarian Swedish influencers that are changing people’s mindsets. For example, Green Kitchen Stories has half a million followers who follow their blog, videos and cookbooks and believe in their progressive food ethos.     

Lastly, Sweden is known for its socialist outlook, which emphasizes choice and personal freedom. To fall in line with these ideals, they make sure that they honor and respect everyone’s food preferences, including vegans and vegetarians. 

This is evident in the growing array of meatless foods that are available in grocery stores and restaurants.

The Swedish philosophy of “Lagom,” which roughly translates to “not too much, not too little,” permeates Swedish culture, including how people eat. 

With its emphasis on moderation, without deprivation, eating vegetarian and vegan foods fits well with what the country stands for. 

Eating clean and green is an expression of the Swede’s close connection with nature, which feels as natural as picking lingonberries in the forest and fishing for oysters in their river beds.

Vegan In Sweden

How do I shop for vegetarian and vegan food in Sweden?

The popularity of vegetarian and vegan food in Sweden has pushed manufacturers and supermarkets to create and stock up on more non-meat options. 

There are now plenty of foods in Swedish grocery stores for both strict-followers as well as dabblers. In fact, some of the largest global producers of vegan and vegetarian foodstuff—like Findus, Risenta, Anamma and Oumph!—originate from Sweden. 

In 2016, supermarket chains Coop and ICA contributed to the plant-based diet movement by creating videos to raise awareness about the impact of a high meat diet on the climate and environment and animal welfare.

The bid for more sustainable food choices has led to groceries stocking up on vegetarian and vegan foodstuff. In the frozen food section, you’ll find vegan meat alternatives such as vegan schnitzel, falafel, meatballs, burgers, tacos, and more. 

You’ll also find vegetarian and non-dairy options such as lasagna with no meat, tofu and almond milk. 

With all these appetizing choices, you’ll find it easy to whip up a delicious meatless meal that is affordable and that’s good for you. What’s more, you’ll be doing good to the planet by buying foods that are not only sustainable and ecological but also fair-trade. 

The only caveat to keep in mind is that the food labels and ingredients are mostly printed in Swedish. Some foods have a sticker that says “suitable for vegetarians.” 

When shopping, it’s a good idea to have a dictionary on hand or to familiarize yourself with the key terms before going. If you’re still doubtful when you get there, just ask the staff, as almost everyone in Sweden speaks English well. 

Vegan In Sweden

Where can I find restaurants that serve delicious Swedish vegetarian food?

There are plenty of restaurants in Sweden that serve dishes heavy on meat and fish, but almost all have at least one or more items on the menu that cater to vegetarians and vegans. You’ll have a great dining experience in most parts of the country. 

Even McDonalds in Sweden created an imitation meat burger called McVegan in 2017. The popular burger includes a soy patty, tomatoes, onion and peppers along with ketchup and a vegan sauce called McFeast. 

In big cities like Stockholm, Gothenburg and Malmö, many restaurants and cafes specialize in vegetarian foods. You’ll be able to spot vegetarian dishes on the menu by looking for the letter “V” beside each option. 

In the trendier parts of the main cities, dining establishments serve vegan food at affordable prices. For instance, you can feast on a delicious falafel wrap for less than 50 SEK (approximately $6).

In general, the southern part of Sweden has more options for vegans and vegetarians than the northern part of the country, where they usually serve more cheese, meat and fish. 

However, even if you visit northern areas, you won’t have a problem putting a few side dishes together to create a meal. There are also lots of nuts, fresh berries and seed crackers to satiate your appetite. 

Restaurants serve delicacies like “ceviche” of avocado and jalapeño, vegan kebabs, cheese quesadillas and vegan coconut ice cream. If you’re looking for breakfast food, you can try chia jam and almond butter toasties with a warm cup of turmeric hot chocolate. 

If you plan to visit Skåne, the southernmost city in Sweden, be sure to visit the artesian producers and farm shops where they sell fresh vegetables and fruits. You also want to try the famous local drink called “must,” a tangy non-alcoholic drink made with pressed apples. 

No matter where you go in the country, the interest and passion for healthy, green and sustainable food will become apparent. The ethos runs deep and is reflected in the food choices. 

Indeed, being a vegetarian or a vegan in Sweden can turn out to be every foodie’s dream.  

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