A family sized serving of barbecued tofu and mushrooms, accompanied by pickled vegetables, edamame, fresh herbs and nori.

Veganism amongst Swedish Teens

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As more and more people strive to maintain a healthier lifestyle, the vegan diet is rising in popularity. The term veganism is commonly defined as the practice of abstaining from all animal products, including meats, fish, dairy, eggs, and honey. Veganism is widespread among numerous teens and young adults in Sweden. One could easily find vegan menus in restaurants, a vegan corner in the supermarket, or vegan restaurants and cafes in the streets of Stockholm. This surprised me at first, since veganism wasn’t as common in Korea. I quickly grew interest in this topic, and decided to interview one of the vegan teens around me. Beatrise, a 10th-grade student in my school, offered to share some of her thoughts and experiences as a vegan teen living in Stockholm. 

Beatrise first became a vegan in 2018. Prior to this, she had been a vegetarian for a year. She had always been a strong advocate for animals’ rights and believed that intensive animal farming was morally incorrect. Having this belief throughout her entire life, Beatrise says that her transition to a vegan last year was not such a big challenge for her. “I have never thought of it as a burden,” she says. 

Although she had been to numerous vegan restaurants in Stockholm, Beatrise explained that she preferred regular restaurants with vegan menus instead. According to her, “vegan places are very nice because they only have vegan food, but that also makes it more difficult if I want to socialize with someone who isn’t vegan.” She also says that out of the countless vegan restaurants in Stockholm, only a few serve find meals, while others simply serve salad. I personally had an enjoyable experience of visiting a vegan cafe as well. Additionally, I noticed that teens and young adults who were not necessarily vegan nor vegetarian also visited these places on occasion. 

Another vegan-friendly aspect of Stockholm can be seen in the supermarkets. Beatrise says that she visits the vegan corner every week when she goes to the supermarket. Small supermarkets often do not include a separate vegan corner; dairy free and vegetarian options take their place instead. However, a vegan corner is almost always found in larger supermarkets. Beatrise says that she personally prefers 100% vegan supermarkets, where she can freely choose anything without considering her dietary restrictions. 

When asked about the advantages of being a vegan, Beatrise answered that the vegan lifestyle was mostly advantageous in the sense that she was pursuing her passion towards the humane treatment of animals. Besides that, she also shared the direct impacts of veganism on herself, including “eating healthier and becoming more energetic.” 

However, Beatrise also shared some challenges that she faced as a vegan teen in Stockholm. Her biggest difficulty was people who questioned her choice of entering the vegan lifestyle. She shared that these people repeated the same questions not for the sake of mere curiosity, but to indirectly communicate their disapproval towards her. “Why should I be questioned? It’s my choice.” she responds. 

My last question for Beatrise was whether she recommended the vegan lifestyle for other teens around her age. Her answer to this question, which I thought was directly mirroring her values and beliefs as a vegan student, was as so:

“Yes, I would recommend it, but the want to become a vegan has to come from the inside. You can never become a vegan and stay vegan unless you have identified a problem within yourself or society that drives you. People of all ages can become vegan, but it’s easier for teens to become vegan as we are more open minded than the older generation. Being vegan is very rewarding in different ways, and I wish more people got to try it.”

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