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Seven Tips for Vegetarian Eating in a Nordic Country

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Eating meals that revolve mostly around fruits and veggies can be quite hard in Northern countries. But it’s definitely possible. These tips will help you with your veggie lifestyle.

apples seasonal eating april

When I moved to Norway a few months ago, I had the resolution to “just” convince the Norwegians of the vegetarian kitchen. I announced my goal in this New Years resolutions article on Duurzame Student, and thought I could easily do it. As it turns out, it was hard enough to keep up my own veggie lifestyle, let alone convince others of it. But now I feel as if I have mastered the art of veggie living, even this far north.

One of the hardest things is to get fresh fruits and veggies. Even if they are available in reasonable quality, there is usually quite a high price attached. It’s only logical, since most of the produce has to be shipped in, and the cost of living is already high here. But for a student, it can be a bit depressing. Luckily, there are some ways to keep your diet full of plant-based goodies.

organic veggies

Go for frozen food. I know, it’s not as good as fresh produce. But frozen veggies and fruits still contain most of their nutrients. As they are usually harvested at their optimal time, it will be a more sustainable choice than the veggies that are flown in from far-away places. Especially frozen blueberries are one of my staple foods nowadays. I always have a bag in the freezer, just in case.

Invest some time in shopping. If you want to keep up a nice, happy, healthy veggie lifestyle, it is worth it to invest some extra time in grocery shopping. First, try out all of the different supermarkets and food shops around town. Keep track of their prices, amount of veggies and quality of the produce. After that, you will probably be able to pick one or two places that are just better in fresh produce than others. Try to fit shopping at these stores into your routine. Even if you have to walk an extra mile for your groceries, the good food will be so worth it! (And use a good meal plan to minimise your trips to the store.)

Note: My favourite store is at the complete opposite side of the city centre from where I live. In going there, I pass about four or five other stores. But for the food, I am happy to make the trip. I often even see it as a fun moment out.

fresh veggies

Seize the moment. Once something is in season and is available for a reasonable price, enjoy it to its fullest. As there are few fruits and veggies that can grow here, it might still not be very locally produced, but it’s at least a bit better. And more affordable. When strawberries are discounted, for example, I sometimes just buy a whole bunch, eat part of it and make jam with the rest. The same goes for veggies as well. If you process them and store them in your freezer, they will keep you fed for a long time, even after they have gone out of sale again.

Treat yourself to the luxury. Even though it is expensive, allow yourself to spend on fresh greens. When I first got here, I tried to keep the cost of living low by only buying the most basic of veggies. But after some time of potatoes, carrots and cabbage, I so longed for other flavours. That is when I realised it is okay to spend a bit more on fresh products. It might cost you some kroner more each week, but you will enjoy your meals so much more. For me, that easily balances it out.

Banana Oatmeal with Fresh Strawberries, a delicious, lovely treat

Value grains. When living here, it’s important to pay attention to all types of food. Grains are very cheap and available in lots of varieties, for example. They contain lots of healthy stuff as well, so take advantage of that and use them in all sorts of meals. Oatmeal for breakfast, barley risotto for lunch, rye bread as snack, and so on.

Keep track of your nutrients. Having to compromise on your food might cause some shortages in your diet. Avoid that by keeping track of what you eat, and which nutrients you are struggling with. You can then start looking for foods that help reach even those goals. Did you know rye contains a lot of iron, for example?

Note: I like to use the app “MyFitnessPal” to keep track of my daily food intake, which I think works really good.

Kefir and frozen berries, a real Norwegian breakfast!

Kefir and frozen berries, a real Norwegian breakfast!

Get creative. And sometimes you will just have to get creative. Try out new ingredients, new combinations, different base ingredients. If you see it as a fun puzzle and invest some time and energy, a veggie lifestyle will be very well possible, and even quite fun!

Enjoy your veggie lifestyle, and I’d love to hear how you are getting on with it!

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