It may seem unlikely that veganism would stand a chance in a country that allows whale hunting and sees reindeer served as a classic dish, but Norway is the newest scene of a massive vegan revolution. In recent years, the country’s population has experienced a giant shift in attitude when it comes to ethical eating, despite long-held animal-unfriendly traditions. We’re spilling the beans on the vegan takeover in Norway.
1. Veganism rising
“Vegan” is the fastest-growing category in grocery chains across Norway. The popular Meny stores report a 60-percent increase in sales of plant-based foods to date in 2018, compared to 2017. There are now over 200 vegan products available in the chain’s stores located in the nation’s capital, Oslo. Coop, another national grocery store, reports a 95-percent increase in sales of vegan products this year. Similar growth has been seen across the board in the country’s food stores. Restaurants, gas stations, and other establishments selling food are rapidly expanding their selections of both vegan grocery items and ready-to-eat dishes in light of the massive demand for vegan options.
2. A giant leap for vegans
In only 6 years, the number of vegans living in Norway has increased by 80 percent. In fact, four percent of the population are now eating a completely meat-free diet, of which, one percent identify as vegan. Norwegian physician, environmental advocate, and celebrity figure Gunhild Stordalen is recognized as one of the key influencers inspiring people from Norway to venture down a plant-based path.
The Norwegian government has agreed to phase out mink and fox farming in the country by 2025, shutting down the fur industry there. Norway has a long history of fur production, and was at one time the world’s biggest producers of fox fur, with almost 20,000 farms. Though the fur industry has steadily shrunk over the years, the country still has approximately 200 active farms. The move to shut down the cruel industry is a sign that the work of a growing number of Norwegian animal activists educating the public about fur cruelty is making waves with Norwegians, and with the country’s government.
One out of ten Norwegians are consciously avoiding, or not eating, meat. Over half of those are cutting down significantly on meat because of health concerns, one-third for environmental reasons, and the remainder because of the animals. The younger demographic tends to avoid meat due to ethical and environmental concerns. NOAH, one of Norway’s leading animal-rights organizations, have been actively promoting Meatless Mondays in university cafeterias countrywide, as well as handing out fliers in elementary schools to educate the younger generation.
5. Active activism
There are an increasing number of animal activists in Norway, who are becoming more visible through mass media channels. In addition to protests and pamphleting on the streets, the organization of Cube of Truth demonstrations that educate about animal cruelty, vigils, and animal rights speeches, in recent months, animal activists have appeared regularly in discussions across major media channels. Animal-rights activist and president of Norsk Vegansamfunn (the Norwegian Vegan Society), Samuel Rostøl, caught the attention of the general public when he questioned the language in traditional Norwegian children’s songs, suggesting they are misleading. The lyrics, he said, lead children to believe that cows give milk to us, when, in fact, the milk is stolen from them. This inspired a huge national controversy that led to Rostøl now making regular national TV appearances to discuss veganism.
Sunny Gandara is a native Norwegian, trained chef, wine consultant, vegan coach, and Norwegian food blogger at sunnygandara.com.