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As in many countries, veganism is becoming increasingly popular in Sweden – and there are a number of annual events we celebrate in plant-based style.
We are en route to one of these very events – through the wet snow, we plough our way in fancy shoes, to this year’s Christmas smörgåsbord with the vegans in Västerås, Sweden.
A smörgåsbord is a type of Scandinavian meal that originated in Sweden. Food is served buffet-style, with a range of hot and cold plates on offer.
Vegan by 2020?
This year the smörgåsbord is held by the local Vegfest organizers, a group who call themselves Vegfest Västerås.
Last year the smörgåsbord was held by another local vegan group – Veganprojektet/The Vegan Project.
Västerås is a middle-sized town, but when it comes to animal rights it’s not middle anything.
It’s booming with activism. Pods, festivals, cubes, and you name it.
If the whole town isn’t vegan by 2020, I’ll eat my vegan fridge magnet.
A Christmas tree greets me at the door, and I walk up the stairs to find the head cook, Rebecca Nygren, also founder of the local animal rights group Djurens Revolt (Animal Revolt), tossing a salad with walnuts and sunflower seeds.
Surrounded by big bowls and bags of veganized Swedish Christmas delicacies, and the hot moist air of boiling potatoes.
“We are having salad – just salad – since it’s a vegan Christmas dinner,” Rebecca jokes.
The smells of Christmas spices tell me otherwise.
Nothing could be further from the truth tonight, than the prejudice that vegans only eat salad.
Others have also helped to cook.
With Vegfest Västerås everything is team work, even if Rebecca, who also teaches vegan cooking classes once a week and runs a vegan catering business, is head of the kitchen this evening.
From the piano in the dining hall Swedish Christmas music, carols and popular Christmas tunes are being practiced last minute.
And on the smörgåsbord, we find a couple of spinach pies decorated with happy faces, and a waldorf salad to go with the two types of eggplant herring – in mustard, and ‘archipelago’ sauce.
Alongside the beetroot salad, kale pie, and traditional potato dish ‘janssons’ wherein the anchovies have been traded for capris, there are carrots prepared like gravlax – cured salmon – and some big chunks of seitan instead of ham.
On the desert table homemade bounty chocolates, and twisted saffron buns with raisins, ‘lusse-bullar’, are being set out.
As the last of the red paper table clothes are rolled out, and the last light blue dumpstered candle lit, the guests – who were lucky enough to get tickets before they sold out, which took one day – begin to roll in to this sparkly room, celebrating a deliciously friendly Swedish vegan Christmas.