I’ve been back from Sweden for almost a week, and it was AMAZING. I probably wouldn’t have left if I didn’t have some sweet kitties and a lovely lady waiting back home in Minnesota.
Where do I start? As this is a food blog I’m trying to stick with (mostly) food pictures, but if you are interested in more scenery-type stuff, you can check out about 100 (out of 700) pictures I took while abroad here. There is so much to say I can’t even begin to think about organizing it, so I’ll mostly speak about food in general and let the pictures fill in the specifics.
I wouldn’t call being vegan in Sweden “easy,” but it’s certainly not impossible. It depends on where you are and/or whether or not you can make your own food. Traditional Swedish food is generally very meat/fish and dairy heavy as a result of the short growing season and regional availability, but recent immigrant populations have brought their own, often more vegan-friendly, fare with them to the country. There is a recognition of lactose-intolerant and gluten-intolerant folk both at restaurants and in groceries, with decent selections of soy and non-soy dairy alternatives and gluten-free breads and crackers available, though as in other parts of the world, that may or may not coincide with veganism generally. If you have specific dietary concerns related to veganism your best bet will probably be to make your own food in Sweden from fresh ingredients, many of which are locally grown and largely organic (“ekologisk” in Swedish).
Larger cities like Stockholm and Göteborg have vegetarian/vegan restaurants (and organic vegetarian groceries even!) and it’s not much of a problem. If you’re not particularly picky, you can even piece together something vegetable-laden and rather filling from the various buffet-style places which abound in Sweden…most restaurants offer a vegetarian selection or two, but they are often heavy on the dairy. While visiting the Vasa Museum in Stockholm, which houses a warship that was at the bottom of the Stockholm archipelago for 333 years, I managed to eat a tasty fresh tomato, red onion and thyme salad with boiled new potatoes, dill and spicy mustard and some gluten-free and non-gluten-free crispbreads!
The great thing about Sweden in the summer is that they celebrate it fully – being outdoors, using all the fresh produce the season has to offer including tons of fresh herbs – which helps us vegans out a lot. I am also the lucky member of a food-savvy family outside Göteborg who treated me to the best meals I had on my vacation; large salads with seasonal greens and vegetables, marinated bean salads, grilled veggies and ratatouille, and almost all the strawberries I could manage.
Probably the most amazing part of our trip, however, was staying in a beach cabin on the Swedish island of Gotland, a three-hour ferry ride from Nynäshamn (about an hour from Stockholm). We had a quaintly perfect kitchen with a little table inside, and a sizable deck right outside with a larger table where we ate a big salad (made with baby beet greens!) with citrusy dressing and lemon garlic rice and a Moroccan-style stew with chickpeas, veggies, and harissa. All spent in the cooling late evening sunset over the Baltic Sea (the sun sets around 930 pm at that latitude in the summer, but the sky never gets completely dark) with really tasty organic wine and good friends. It was so perfectly dreamy I almost thought I was dreaming.
And it’s reawakened my food-making spirit, even if I had to return to a stressful work atmosphere. I’m ready to celebrate my Swedish-ness through food, get cracking on that other zine I’ve pushed to the dark corners of my mind, and take many more pictures along the way.