‘Special’ diets are usually a big issue in many places when, but not only, we want to eat out, right? For instance, in my home country (Brazil) there is a strong culture of a necessity to eat meat in preferably every meal. Therefore, it can be extremely annoying when you go to a restaurant there and you do not want to eat meat for whatever reason. Hard for a vegetarian, right? Now imagine a vegan, it is basically impossible to get anything to eat unless you go to specifically vegan restaurants, which are not common at all. From there things just get harder and harder, gluten free options for example are essentially never available, I personally have friends that are gluten intolerant and have to always bring their own food or just eat before leaving home. Moreover, that is not something that happen only in Brazil, many other Americans or European countries have the same problem. However, if you want to study in a place where you can find vegetarian, vegan, gluten free, lactose free, nut free or whatever your needs may be free basically wherever you go, Sweden is your place.
Well, starting from the basics…
Okay, I will admit, back home it was quite easy to go to the supermarket and get loads of fresh vegetables for decent prices, but you know even though vegetables and greens are quite important in a veggie diet, we do not eat only that. Here you can go to the supermarket closest to your house and you will find all sorts of vegetarian/vegan options that you can choose from, that is vegetable based milks, yogurts, cream, ice-cream, cheeses, burgers, sausages or basically anything you can think of, specially great assortment of mushrooms (summer will be amazing for that, you can go pick your own mushrooms in the forest). And that is not the only think, you can also find a whole session of gluten free products with nice goodies. Talking about goodies, Swedes have a tradition of eating candy only on Saturday (at least for the kids), which is the Lördagsgodis, and if you are vegan or vegetarian you can enjoy it as well as everyone else as here you can find all sorts of gelatine free gummy-like candies.
I know, talking about fika again? Yep, we all love fika! Everyone enjoys going to cafés or having fika with friends in any place. In all cafés, you will be able to find vegan and gluten free cakes, cookies, pastries, chocolate balls, and many other options.
It is unlikely that you will go to a restaurant or any place to eat really, and they will not have at least one vegetarian/vegan options. Moreover, of course we also like to have that not exactly health fast food once in a while, right? Well, Sweden’s favourite hamburger restaurant chain provide you if different options of veggie burgers that you can choose from, just beware with the barbecue option if you are not a fan of spicy food (lots of jalapeño on that one). The student nations also always offer veggie option on their pub, restaurants, brunch and any other events.
Invited for dinner
Have you ever had that uncomfortable feeling when you are invited to a friend’s/relative’s house for lunch, dinner or whatever occasion, and you are not sure they know you don’t eat meat and you are not sure you should bring that up? Usually, you don’t have to worry about that here. Many Swedes are vegetarian or vegan and it is totally okay with other people if you do not eat meat, they will not tease you or make any jokes, and most importantly the person inviting you will be the first to ask whether you have any ‘special’ diet or not. You will most certainly feel welcome to eat in all places.
So, if that is one of your worries it is okay, you will not starve in Sweden and in most cases, all the new food you will be able to eat will be better than you could ever imagine. Swedes do not kid when the topic is food and they will lure you to many events with food (we all love that).