I always enjoy reading personal experiences, so I came up with the idea to interview other vegans and called this series Vegan Voices. I’ll interview vegans who are travelling and who can tell you about their experiences then, but also vegans who are living in other countries as they have a different view of their country. Today I’ll start with Therese.
Estonia? Where is that again? Somewhere next to Russia? – Probably most of you don’t know so much about the small country next to Russia, Latvia and Finland where they have such a complicated language. (Estonian is only related to Finnish and for us it’s a nightmare to learn the language ;)).
I got the possibility to visit that beautiful country in 2014 while I was studying in Latvia and it was a great experience. I also met Therese, an estonian vegan girl. When I told her about my Vegan Voices project she decided to take part without hesitating. And now she’ll tell you something about her country, her travels and how she became vegan.
Enjoy reading and many thanks to Therese :)
Dear Therese, nice to meet you! You live in Tartu, the second largest city in Estonia. Have you always lived here?
No, I’m originally from the biggest island in Estonia which is called Hiiumaa.
You’re vegan as well, but before you have been vegetarian for 5 years. In Germany and Switzerland you’ll find a lot vegans and vegetarians and you lived in these countries for a certain time. Were these people catalysts for you? Or why did you decide to go vegan after being such a long time vegetarian?
I was vegetarian about 5 years before going vegan. It was quite gradual but very definite decision for me. Here played all the possible reasons a role: starting with ethical and environmental side of it and finishing with health related personal food intolerance.
Living in Germany and Switzerland definitely triggered my decision to leave consuming animal products behind. As it is also quite easy to find vegan friendly products over there.
Do you think veganism or vegetarianism is common in Estonia? How do the people in a restaurant react if you ask for a vegan dish. Do they know the word?
Well, I think there will be more and more of us every day. Though generally, people’s concept about non-meat eaters is a bit fuzzy as meat and milk products is “culturally” so popular, some believe there isn’t a “real” dish without any animal products. Sometimes it can be tricky eating vegan in a restaurant or a bar as there is sometimes even a simple salad made with mayonese. You need to know where you go and need to ask what do they really have as ingredients. They mix up vegans, vegetarians and raw vegans as there is pretty much only one word for all three: “Taimetoitlane” (lit. plant-eater).
Do you have a favourite place in Estonia?
Hiiumaa obviously! I love the sea, forest and peace which in no-where else found in such perfectness.
Do you also like travelling? If so, do you remember an experience you will never forget?
Various hitchhiking trips in middle and southern Europe have been very special. Losing yourself in timelessness. Just standing by the road or being just some random place you’ve just been brought to some friendly locals seeing places you wouldn’t ever see travelling by bus or train.
Do you have any advice you would like to give to other travelers in Estonia?
In Tartu it is a bit complicated to find some pure vegan places. But I would recommend Asian Chef and Vilde Tervisekohvik. In Tallinn there are various places but the best is Vegan restaurant V.