How is it to be a vegetarian in Sweden?

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Being a vegetarian since I was born, I was wondering what I would do, if I had to go to a foreign land, where the major source of protein is Fish and meat. My most important concern when I left my country was, what am I going to eat? How am I going to survive in the country, where they have limited sunlight and less crops? Do I have to change my eating habits when I leave my country?

But, I was surprised to meet so many Swedish people, who embraced and respected my choice of being a vegetarian. Wherever I go, be it a grocery store, a party, a sittning, there has always been more than one vegetarian substitute for all meat products. Whenever you sign up for an event, they ask you specifically whether you are a vegetarian and whether you have any allergies. They value your food preferences and order vegetarian food even if you are going for a ‘Crayfish party’. Just few weeks back, I found out that they have vegetarian alternatives for the world-famous Swedish meat balls!! So, after being in Sweden for one year, I have come to realize that being a vegetarian in Sweden has been so easy.

In the beginning, it might be hard to look for vegetarian stuffs in the supermarket, as it was for me, but you will always get along. Swedes are very friendly and they are always happy to help you when you ask. So, if you don’t know what to get or if you don’t understand the name of the ingredient if it’s in Swedish, don’t hesitate to ask the person standing near you (you need not have to look for the store staff, as they are so hard to find!). In my case, back home we used to have separate food labels, for vegetarian (green dot) and non-vegetarian foods (red dot), so it was easier to choose. In Sweden, I had to look at the ingredient list before buying a vegetarian food, but here the labels are quite informative and easy to follow, which is a good thing. Once you get to know the names of the fruits or vegetables in the grocery store, you are good to go and make your choices.

So, don’t hesitate to come and explore the beauty of Sweden, just because of your food restrictions. There is no better place than Sweden for vegetarians! They have the most healthy lifestyles, compared to the countries that I have traveled to in Europe so far.–

~~ by Monisha Pradeep

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