a column by Anja Boencke.
I more or less stumbled across being vegan, when I moved in with one at the beginning of September last year. Before that, I was not even a vegetarian, even though I have always loved cooking and at least shown a healthy interest in a healthy lifestyle.
My first thoughts when this, at the time, blonde tall stranger nervously admitted she was not eating meat, dairy products or eggs – nor anything else that is not plant-based, my initial thought was: ‘Oh dear’.
As the blonde tall stranger and me shared a tiny apartment with an even tinier kitchen, I very quickly realized this could become a problem. I love cooking and dining with my roommates, so this whole plant thing would have been an obstacle, obviously.
This is when I decided to just give it a try and I became vegan overnight. Of course, I had the advantage of having a wonderful personal veganism tutor around me 24/7 who made the beginning a lot easier for me. It has now been almost 8 months since I started following a vegan diet and the blonde tall stranger became a great friend.
I could go on and list all the environmental and health-related reasons why this diet makes sense, but you can go use your Google skills and find these facts elsewhere. Other people can tell you about these in a better and more detailed manner. I love cooking vegan food — it makes you more creative and takes you out of your routine and comfort zone, and that is all I want to add to this debate. Plus, being vegan makes your Instagram colourful.
Veganism in Jutland – Not always rainbows and butterflies (I was disappointed and surprised, too)
I am not going to lie: I have had my fair share of awkward situations due to being vegan in Jutland. In Denmark, pork is king. It’s a part of daily life and the culture. Denmark is probably the only country where meatballs recently were raised to the POLITICAL level, when a discussion about the right of having meat balls of lunch in the kindergarten was used as an argument in the immigration debate. (Really, Denmark? Really?). They call it the Danish meatball war.
A wise man from Jutland once told me:
“I think there are more people in West-Jutland who don’t eat salad than people who don’t eat meat.” – Wise man from Jutland.
When you tell Danes you are vegan you mainly get the reaction of: ‘But, why are you doing this? Meat is delicious! Why would you not eat it?’.
As most vegans have probably noticed when discussing veganism with meat-loving, ignorant friends who think they only want your best interest skeptical people, it turns out that having a friend who is following a plant-based diet is more worrisome than heavy drinking, lack of religion or your political orientation.
At least in Denmark.
I mean, I guess you only mean well, Danes. BUT YES I AM GETTING ENOUGH B 12, I TAKE SUPPLEMENTS THANK YOU VERY MUCH. TUSIND TAK!
Have I heard that shipping all these poor avocados all the way to Denmark is actually worse for the environment than eating all these animal products? Oh, really? Where did you read that? Oh, you forgot? But, somewhere. Like on the internet? Oh wow. There even was a graph next to the article? I thought so. I hope this article makes you feel better.
I will not start on the limited going out food and date choices being vegan leaves you with in Aarhus. But if you don’t want to be seen with different dates in the same location in the same week and make things even weirder for your already weird vegan self, you better choose a damn wine bar as a dating location.
Not that many Danes would date you anyway, because you know, you are weird and don’t love meatballs. There must be something wrong with you. How could you then truly love anything in life if you don’t love Danish meatballs?
I think my favourite situation when being a vegan in Aarhus really backstabbed me, was after I had taken part in the long-anticipated common cleaning of my dorm.
If you live in Denmark then you now know that the concept of doing something that is slightly unpleasant will be sloppily disguised by a Dane by adding ‘OH BUT THERE WILL BE SNACKS!’ (I see through this concept. The more food they promise you, the shittier your chore will be.)
I was slightly hungover – I do enjoy the drinking part of the Danish diet – on a Sunday morning, and had just vacuumed the sofa in the common room. Not just the top of the sofa and the floor beneath it. Also the bottom of the sofa which had never even been exposed to any dirt, because you know, it is the bottom of the sofa. I cleaned it anyways, this seemed to be an important part of the job as my fellow Danish housemates pointed out.
So I was cleaning the bottom of the sofa, and I even cleaned the windows afterwards.
All I thought about while fulfilling my chores was: OH. But there will be snacks later!
I am a fool.
The snacks consisted exclusively of franske hot dogs.
I should have known better.
Denmark, you did not disappoint me that day. I disappointed myself.
This column is an irony loaded piece. It is a column. You are smart, you know the drill. I just want to briefly mention the great vegan dining and café options in Aarhus for everyone who wants to be a vegan alien for a day or has their alien friends visiting: