Travelling as a vegan or a vegetarian can really be a mixed bag. Sometimes countries, like Finland, that aren’t known for being vegetarian friendly can be intimidating for vegetarian travelers. However, compared to just a few years ago, vegetarianism has gone from strength to strength in many countries in the EU, with vegetarian restaurants and more vegetarian foods being made available to consumers and travelers alike.
The main travel options are to chill out in cosmopolitan Helsinki, have a full on snowy winter experience in Lapland, visit laid back Lakeland, or go to the Coastal Areas and Archipelago. Finland offers the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, which is on virtually everyone’s bucket list and to try winter activities for those of us who have grown up without snow. You can also experience 24 sunlight for 70 days in winter in Northern Finland.
If you’re travelling on a self-catering holiday, the supermarkets in Finland won’t disappoint you as soya, fresh fruit and vegetables and frozen vegetables are readily available in most of them. You won’t have trouble finding potatoes and other seasonal root vegetables, and they’re some of the cheapest, most versatile vegetables you can buy, so feel free to buy a few and experiment with some local recipes.
When it comes to restaurants, the vegetarian restaurant scene in Finland is booming, with many great cafes, restaurants and bars making mealtimes easier for vegetarian customers. In Helsinki, Govinda’s Vegetarian Club serves an exclusively Indian- style vegetarian menu in a laid back atmosphere, where customers are encouraged to sit on the floor and eat their order with their hands. Meanwhile, Vegemesta offers a wide selection of vegetarian burgers, such as soya, hemp and tofu, while also offering a great range of local breads, cakes and coffee.
Outside of cosmopolitan areas like Helsinki there will be fewer international options, but that doesn’t mean vegetarians should rule out trips to other parts of rural Finland. In Lapland, one of Finland’s most popular destinations, especially during winter and especially for people traveling with small children due to Santa themed attractions and activities in the area. The tourism board has great resources for travel planning.
Although menus can be dominated by fish, vegetarian options, such as vegetarian stew and baked potatoes with vegetarian fillings are available. Often, the local hotels will ask their guests if they have any special dietary requirements before they arrive, so, depending on when you travel, there will always be at least one vegetarian option for you when you arrive.
Vegetarian travelers going to Finland needn’t feel hard done by. In countries like Finland, being vegetarian is fairly easy. You’ll get the chance to try lots of local vegetarian dishes, not to mention some Finnish classics if you wish. Meat — who needs it?!
Image by qtea, used under Creative Commons license.