Being married to a Finn for nearly 20 years, I’ve had the distinct joy of taking trips to Finland and learning about Finnish culture. Finland is truly a wonderful country filled with lovely people. In fact, for the last two years in a row, surveys have found Finns to be the happiest people in the world. And why wouldn’t they be? Finland has universal healthcare, some of the cleanest air on Earth, and its capital city, Helsinki, is a vegan wonderland.
I’m not even kidding. We were just in Helsinki last week and I can’t believe how vegan it is. I even found it more vegan-friendly than Berlin – Europe’s supposed vegan capital. Here are 12 reasons Helsinki should be your next travel destination:
1. There are signs for vegan food literally everywhere.
Seriously, there were signs for vegan food and menu items almost everywhere we went. Everything from vegan burgers to ice cream to a sausage food truck that had vegan links. It was awesome!
2. Helsinki just got its first all-vegan burger joint. And it’s AMAZING!
Now with two locations, Bun2Bun is Helsinki’s first all-vegan burger chain. They offer a variety of delicious burgers cooked with the Beyond Burger patty. My husband ordered “The Cheese” which came with vegan blue cheese dressing and a sweet balsamic drizzle. I got the BBQ & Cheddar which was slathered in BBQ sauce and homemade cashew cheddar. They were both sensational! (Bun2Bun also sells kombucha, which is not always easy to find in Europe.)
3. You will experience the best vegan latte of your life at Strindberg.
Per capita, Finland consumes more coffee than any other country in the world. And gurl, when it comes to coffee, these Finnish people do not fuck around. I’ve had coffee in France, in Italy, etc. — nothing comes close to the coffee in Finland. The vegan latte at Strindberg is made with frothed oat milk and it will bring tears to your eyes. It is smooth, silky, and tastes like a caffeinated dream! Want something sweet to go with with your coffee? Strindberg has vegan desserts too!
4. Two words: Pulled Oats!
Made by Finnish company Gold & Green, pulled oats are so wildly popular as a meat alternative in Finland supermarkets can barely keep them on the shelves. Restaurants all over Helsinki use pulled oats in their dishes — even Helsinki’s Taco Bell offers pulled oats tacos! I tried some while I was there and they truly live up to the hype. The texture and taste are phenomenal! Pulled oats are made from five simple ingredients: oats, faba beans, yellow peas, canola oil, and salt. And they contain no additives, fillers, preservatives, or GMO’s!
5. The vegan selection at Helsinki supermarkets is a revelation.
Finland’s most popular supermarket is called K Market and they are all over Helsinki. I dropped by the one across from the main railway station in city center to check out their vegan offerings and HOLY SHIT! Gurl, this is not a Whole Foods or a health food store, this is just the regular supermarket. They have all sorts of vegan cheeses and meats to choose from. Check this out.
6. The atmosphere and food at Yes Yes Yes
Helsinki’s newest all-vegetarian restaurant is so popular they’re already opening an outpost in Berlin! Even though it’s not all-vegan, Yes Yes Yes offers a ton of unique and delicious vegan menu items. Trust me, you’ve never had flavors like this before. The atmosphere is a cross between a futuristic diner and a sexy, late-night bar. This place gets packed so either make a reservation or come early.
7. Helsinki has its own vegan food market and an all-vegan clothing store too.
Located in Helsinki’s Kallio neighborhood are two all-vegan stores next to each other. Vegekauppa is a food market that sells everything from vegan meats to specialty chocolates to cheese. Right next door, Fair Heluna sells vegan shoes, books, and clothing.
8. The vegan tasting menu and wine pairing at Farang
Helsinki’s Farang restaurant offers a truly first-class experience. Their Southeast Asian-inspired menu includes a ton of vegan options including an all-vegan prix fixe tasting menu. Add the wine pairing option and Farang’s sommelier will serve you a different wine with each course. This place is pricey, so if you make reservations be prepared to drop some serious Euros — but it’s worth it!
9. There is an animal rights political party.
Finland has very strict rules with regards to running for public office. You can only spend a minimal amount of money to campaign and attack ads are not allowed. This is a billboard we passed while walking through the city, of people running for seats in the EU Parliament from Finland’s animal rights party.
10. Even Helsinki’s McDonald’s makes a vegan burger
In both Finland and Sweden, all McDonald’s restaurants sell the McVegan, an all-vegan burger. We tried it at a McDonald’s in Helsinki and I have to say it was actually pretty good!
11. Helsinki’s oldest confectionary, Fazer, has vegan options
Fazer’s candies are sold all over the world, but they have a huge store and café in the middle of Helsinki. In recent years, they’ve taken steps to make many of their candies vegan, including these Marianne’s. Additionally, the Fazer café offers quite a few vegan options. Take a look!
12. You can actually buy Oatly.
Let’s be real, when it comes to vegan milks, there’s everybody else… and then there’s Oatly. Nothing even comes close to the sheer luxury of this Swedish-made oat milk. But good luck getting it in the US because it’s ALWAYS sold out. (Oatly is currently building a production facility in New Jersey to keep up with demand.) In Finland, however, Oatly can be found everywhere from supermarkets to cafés to Starbucks. I packed as many as I could in our bags for our trip home — and I suggest you to the same!