When I was living in Norway I met many amazing people. One of these people is Emma. I met her in Tromsø where she was very active, for example for the local animal welfare organisation Dyrebeskyttelsen as well as for NOAH, Norways biggest animal rights organisation. And when I asked her, if she’d like to help with a vegan bake sale and later with a presentation about veganism in Tromsø, she agreed on the spot.
Dear Emma, thank you very much for participating in my Vegan Voices series! Maybe you can shortly introduce yourself?
Hello! I’m a 19 year old vegan girl currently studying mathematical sciences at NTNU in Trondheim. I moved here just last summer, until then I lived in Tromsø. I like cooking, camping out in nature, and various arts and crafts.
Since when are you vegan and why did you decide so?
I became interested in veganism when I was thirteen and we adopted a rabbit. She was the first animal I really got to know, and so that made me think more about what makes it okay to kill and eat some animals while we care so much for others. My rabbit’s welfare and happiness mattered so much to me, and it just felt strange that I didn’t value other animals’ happiness just as much. At the same time I stumbled upon a blog by a vegan woman who wrote a lot about the ethics around veganism. These two factors combined were enough to make me decide that veganism was the way to go, but it still took me 3 years to actually become one.
So you became vegan when you were still quite young and living with your parents. How did your parents react?
Well, for some reason I was really afraid to tell my parents that I wanted to go vegan. I guess I was worried they wouldn’t like it, or somehow feel betrayed by me wanting to eat differently or something like that. In addition to that, my parents are divorced, so I would have to “come out” as vegan in two different families. When I eventually told them, they weren’t too negative, I guess they were a little worried, but I think maybe they thought it would go over after a while. I also gave them both a copy of “Help! My Child Stopped Eating Meat!” by Carol J Adams. I think that might have helped.
Was it difficult? Did you prepare food yourself then?
In the beginning it was very difficult, because I had no idea what to make and I had never really made a lot of food at all. But then the transition was also very gradual for me, I used three years, so that helped. Usually I would make something for myself and then combine it with whatever the others were eating, if there was something vegan there, like pasta or vegetables. That worked out, but I did end up making a lot of my own food.
How was it in school? Did you take lunch with you or did you have a canteen in school?
At school we had to bring our own food, but I found it very difficult to make varied lunches to pack every day. I ended up with a lot of bread with peanut butter. After a while I got slightly more creative, packing leftovers from dinner, making salads, and bringing a lot of fruit.
In general: Do you think it’s easy to live vegan in Norway?
I guess there are better places to be vegan, but it’s not difficult to be vegan here at all. You just need to do some research and get into a routine, and then it’s not hard at all. Veganism is a growing movement here as well, so it’s just getting easier and easier.
You’re living in Trondheim at the moment. Do you have any recommendation for the city?
Well, I don’t really feel that I know the city that well yet, but I have had the hummuskubbe (a huge falafel wrap with hummus) at Persilleriet, which I really liked. And also, there is this amazing vegan collective which I happen to live in, and we’re happy to welcome any fellow vegans who are passing through Trondheim! Or just nice people in general. We won’t exclude the non-vegans.
And do you have any advice you’d like to give to travelers in Norway?
I really like the Norwegian nature. So if you like hiking, I would recommend finding some local mountain or something and go there. When it comes to traveling as a vegan, you are going to have to make a lot of food yourself if you are planning on traveling outside of the large cities. But most places they have basic vegan ingredients, so you’ll survive for sure.
Last but not least: Do you want to share your favourite recipe with us?
That’s difficult! I’m not sure I have a single favorite recipe. But these are really good: Fudgy Beet Cupcakes. Minimalist baker in general has really great recipes for baked vegan stuff. (Although not all the recipes are vegan)
Thank you very much!