A vegan Christmas

We had a great Christmas, even though it was a bit different from what we are used to. We talked to our families through phone and Skype, we met some of our friends at church, we got few but great gifts, and we had some great food.

The food is what this post is going to be about.

Here in Finland we have a bunch of typical Christmas dishes that people usually eat every year, such as different casseroles (“porkkanalaatikko”, “lanttulaatikko”), ham, different kind of salads, and so on. I have kind of found my way to make vegan versions of some of these, and have also added some other dishes that we didn’t necessarily have on the Christmas table when I grew up.

christmas table

So on our vegan Christmas table this year we had these dishes;

  • A vegan ham based on gluten, chickpea and soy flour
  • Porkkanalaatikko, or carrot casserole
  • Red beet salad with home-made mayonnaise
  • Marinated eggplant slices, a vegan version of herring (“silli”)
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Mushroom sauce
  • “Ris á la Malta”, which is a dessert based on rice porridge, with vegan whipped cream, oranges and pomegranatesaladdessert
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December update

This month has been packed with different events and happenings, so the blog has had to take a step back for, well… life. Now Christmas is almost here and for the first year ever me and R are celebrating it together, without any of our family members present. So it will be different, but also interesting. Kind of a chance to start creating our own Christmas traditions.

winter wonderland

I had almost given up the thought of a white Christmas this year, since the past month has been so rainy and dark, but over the past few days the scenery outside has turned from gloomy and depressing into a winter wonderland. Even though I’m not generally a winter person, the change is quite amazing and truly makes me happy.

Ever since I became vegetarian, planning and preparing the food for Christmas has been a special thing for me, something I love to do. It’s a day when I feel it’s ok to spend a little extra, both money and time, on the food. It’s also fun to find new dishes and to make vegan versions of the typical Finnish Christmas dishes. So I’ve spent this day preparing some of the dishes we will have for our Christmas table tomorrow (a post about these is coming up in a few days).

gingerbread house

This year we made our very first gingerbread house from scratch, which was not the easiest thing we have ever done, but in the end it turned out quite nice.

Merry Christmas to all of you!

Dinner invites

Every now and then me and R get invited to dinner by people who are not vegan (to be honest, the times I’ve been invited to dinner by someone who is vegan can be counted on one hand). These people all know that I eat only plant-based food, but they still want to cook for me. That’s really something I appreciate, that they are ready to step out of their comfort zone and try cooking something new, just so that they can treat me for dinner. Amazing people!

Non-vegan people are actually much more open to cooking vegan food than I used to believe. Sure, there are people who just say they don’t know how to cook vegetables and leave it at that, but most people are really willing to try. Even more when they have a reason to do so: a vegan friend. I’m honored to be that friend.

A dream about self-sufficiency

One of my big dreams is to one day live on a small farm and grow my own food to the extent it’s possible, not having to go to the supermarket to decide between fruits, veggies and other food-stuffs you actually don’t really know where they come from, what they have been through and what kind of life the workers that handled them are living.

It’s a big dream, because I’m not that good in growing plants, and certainly not in preserving them, and we live in a country with long, cold winters. It would also mean a new way of relating to food, cooking mainly from what you have instead of buying exactly what you want from the store. Still I’m hoping that it will be possible some day.

I have it all in my head; an old small house that we have renovated and made more energy sufficient, a yard with fruit trees and berry bushes, a small greenhouse, vegetable plantations, a small barn and possibly some rescue animals. No sounds except the ones of nature, of the animals, of family and friends. No smell of pollution, just the smell of grass, flowers and home-made bread. Heaven.

Vegetarian Awareness Month

Today is the kick-off of Vegetarian Awareness Month, a month centered on vegetarian food in all its glory. It starts off with today’s celebration of World Vegetarian Day. This is a great opportunity to take the pledge to go vegetarian for one month!

There’s a lot of different campaigns out there challenging people to ditch meat – or animal products all together – this month, and offering support (recipes, information etc) to you while doing so. Here in Finland we have for example Lihaton Lokakuu (“Meat-free October”) and Vegaanihaaste (“Vegan challenge”).

I also personally challenge you, try it out! It doesn’t have to be perfect, this is not a challenge that you can fail. It’s just a challenge for you to step out of your comfort zone, getting to know vegetarian food, making a change for the animals and the planet, and hopefully also having some fun in the process!

vegan bbq

Maybe you choose to go full-out vegan for a month, maybe you choose to only cut the meat out of your diet for a month, any way you decide to accept the challenge, it will still make a difference to the animals and to our planet, and probably most of all to you. When you are “forced” to look for alternatives of the foods you normally eat, a whole new world of food – food you never thought existed – will open up to you.

The Vegetarian Awareness Month will culminate on November 1, which is World Vegan Day (and coincidentally my anniversary as a vegan!). Then I suggest you eat some vegan cake! At least I will.

 

“Do you feel sorry for them?”

As I was having lunch with some of my work mates, they asked me – as so many times before – about my food and what it contains. One of them thought it contained fish, so I told her that I don’t eat fish. Her response was “Why? Do you feel sorry for them?”. I’m not really fluent enough in Finnish to properly explain to her my reasons for being vegan (which I have to admit frustrates me), but I told her that my decision doesn’t have to do with feeling sorry for someone, because that’s not what it’s all about.

This question, “Do you feel sorry for the animals?”, comes up quite often when you tell someone that you are vegetarian or vegan. It is a legitimate question, because you could choose not to eat animals just because you feel sorry for them, but for me – and for most other vegans out there – the choice is about something much deeper than just pity for the animals that get hurt. It’s about respect for them and their lives, not simply their right to be alive, but their right to a good life.

Seeing vegetarians and vegans as just people feeling pity for animals reduce the message that lies behind the choice to not consume them or their secretions, since that would mean you base your choices on emotion rather than rational thinking. Of course there are emotions involved – realizing how animals have to suffer every day for our selfish purposes can be very painful – but the choice to go vegan is usually based on a lot of research, discussions and rational thinking. It’s a choice you make because you come to the conclusion that not consuming animals or their secretions (of which you actually have no nutritional requirement) is the most compassionate way to live; not a decision based on naive emotions.

A visit to Copenhagen: Food

Something that we always do when we travel is to check out the vegan (and sometimes vegetarian) restaurants or cafes in the city or town where we go. Copenhagen has quite a lot of vegetarian places, and we did not visit all of them, but we did visit all the vegan ones (that I knew about), so here’s a post about vegan restaurants in Copenhagen. Enjoy.

Simple Raw Simple Raw

Simple Raw, Oehlenschlaegersgade 12
The place is quite small and truly simple looking. They serve raw food, juices and smoothies. Their menus were very inviting with nice pictures of the food, but text only in Danish (the guy working there – who turned out to also be the owner – was happy to translate for us, though). R had a plate of zucchini pasta, I had a tapas plate with different salads, hummus, crackers and some patties. We also had a smoothie each. The food was good, I do really like raw food and since I don’t have much experience of preparing it myself it’s nice to eat it in restaurants. The place was also calm and relaxing, not many guests at the time when we were there. The price was in the upper end, we ended up paying around 50 € for the food that we had.

 42 Degrees Raw 42 Degrees Raw

42 Degrees Raw

42 Degrees Raw, Pilestaede 32
Another raw place, located in the city center. We went there around lunch time and it was very busy, full of people and quite noisy. We waited in line for quite some time before we could order, and after that it still took quite long before our food arrived. R had a raw lasagna, I had pizza with a salad. For dessert we shared a chocolate cake. All together it cost around 26 €. The food was alright, it didn’t look that presentable but it tasted fine. Nothing special though. Eating in the restaurant was not that pleasant because of the amount of people and the noise from blenders and other equipment, but they also offer take-out, which I would recommend if you are planning to eat their food during rush hour.

Astrid och Aporna

Astrid och Aporna, Jaegersborggade 39
This is a small vegan fast-food place with a few options of mainly burgers and hot-dogs. We had a burger each and paid around 13 €. I liked the burger, the amount of times I have had a burger that I didn’t make myself since I became a vegetarian ten years ago can be counted on one hand, so it was nice. The place has both indoors and outdoors seating, we tried sitting indoors at first because all the places outside were taken, but it was just too uncomfortable, so as soon some quests left we transferred outdoors.

Woodah Café, Abel Cathrines Gade 1-3
Our hostel, Woodah, also has a cafe, like I mentioned in the earlier post. They serve breakfast, which is the same as the one for the hostel guests. When we were there it consisted of home-made bread with hummus, jam, butter or cheese, home-made muesli (with yoghurt if you wanted), fresh fruit and coffee or tea. Apart from breakfast they also serve snacks and a warm meal, as well as different kind of drinks.

Botaniq, Frederiksborggade 26
I had read good things about this place before we went to Copenhagen, so I really wanted to eat here. Unfortunately they were closed for renovation and don’t open again before in August. Thought I would mention the place here anyway, in case someone will visit Copenhagen in the future and would like to go there. If you do, please tell me about it!