If, like me, you’re a vegan who frequently gets itchy feet and needs to explore and visit new places, you’re likely to stockpile plant based snacks to take away with you in fear of not finding any vegan friendly places to eat. A couple of weeks ago I headed to Helsinki and discovered it was a vegan’s dream. Here’s why…
1. It’s so, so easy to dine out in the Finnish capital…
Seriously, there are SO many places to eat. Not only is there a plethora of vegan or vegetarian/vegan places to choose from, at every single restaurant where I nosed at the menu, there were at least two vegan main options, and almost always a desert, too.
Situated on the 3rd floor of a small shopping centre, Kippo was a fantastic find for lunch. Offering a range of hip-ly named sandwiches (I had the Sir Pesto with cashew cheese, but the Johnny Cashew also sounded delish) and freshly made smoothies and juices, all in 100% compostable packaging, I would definitely recommend Kippo. A few weeks on from my trip, I still dream of the Sir Pesto – that’s how scrumptious it was!
Fafa’s is a falafel and Middle Eastern inspired food chain, born on one of Helsinki’s trendy streets, now comprising 24 restaurants around Finland and some overseas. On the menu are a variety of vegan, vegetarian and meat options for falafel salads and pitas. An ideal snack or light dinner; I had the falafel and cauliflower pita which was nice but I found the combination of cauliflower and tahini a little strange and too rich.
Wander along the waterfront at Kaivopuisto and you will not only find stunning views, but also stumble across Cafe Ursula. In the UK, it’s very rare to find vegan options at a seaside or waterfront cafe, but Cafe Ursula proves that almost all food outlets in Helsinki offered plant based options; this time in the form of sandwiches, salads and cake!
Now this is an unusual one – Jänö is a teeny tiny vegan-only food kiosk, a stone’s throw away from the National Museum of Finland. Only open in summer, and until 9pm or 12am depending on the day of the week, it offers a range of deep fried vegan junk food!
This is just a small list of places to eat, Visit Finland has listed a selection of other vegan eateries.
2. … and asking for a vegan option seems the norm
Instead of being met with blank stares and vacant blinking when asking if any vegan options are available, in most places in Helsinki it seemed normal to ask (yay!). At the airport I couldn’t find a single place near my gate which offered a vegan alternative so at one restaurant I asked if anything on the menu could be suitable for vegans. The waiter’s response? “Well, our usual vegan customers opt for…”!
3. You can take a day trip to Tallinn
And I would 100% recommend you do. It’s a reasonable 2.5 hour ferry ride to Tallinn, Estonia, costing around €20-50 with Tallink and it’s such a cute little old-town city. With gorgeous old cobbled, quaint and colourful streets and stunning architecture. But why does this make a trip to Helsinki a vegan’s dream? Because vegan and vegan friendly restaurants in Tallinn are aplenty, Visit Tallinn go as far as describing the city as ‘a feast for vegans’!
4. Hotel Helka is just fabulous
Hotel Helka was founded by the YWCA of Finland, one of the oldest women’s organisations. Built in the 1920s, the building then offered women a safe place to live. Now it’s home to one of the most fabulous, ethical and pro-equality hotels I have ever come across.
The design of the hotel is sleek, providing a warm and friendly atmosphere. It’s committed to the Green Key eco-label environmental standard, championing a sustainable operation with cruelty and slavery free vegan shower products.
The on-site cafe provides a wide range of plant-based sandwiches and soups, and vegans certainly won’t go hungry at breakfast many alternatives to choose from, including their raw porridge which is delicious.
5. You cannot buy bottled water anywhere
According to Unicef, Finland has the purest water in the world, which is why it’s very hard to buy bottled water. Everyone drinks the water straight from the tap – reducing plastic waste and creating a healthier environment for us all… humans and animals alike 😀
Have you visited Helsinki before? I’d love to know what your thoughts on the city are – comment below!
MUCH LOVE, SAMARA XX
P.S. Going abroad? Find out why the Happy Cow app will change your life.