Until 2 weeks ago, I thought that Goteborg and Gothenburg were two separate cities in Sweden. I asked my friend on the way over which would have the most to see, do and vegan eats. So, I find out they are the same. Ok, so life is a constant lesson.
I had three days to explore the area, with my Swedish friend. I'd never been to Sweden and had failed to swot up before I flew, so the itinerary was all down to her. Once I'd loosened my grip on the reins (I'm so used to travelling alone) I just let her steer. We only had a day in Goteborg. The other days we spent chilling out by her lakeside home. The other, checking out the deserted beaches nearby. I only had two requests. Find me some quirky cafes, exercise me plenty, and find some vegan food. The cafes were no trouble. Since the 18th century when workers cafes offered Goteborg residents a place to gather, cafe culture has been a vital part of the city. She also walked my feet off! The vegan food is revealed a little later.
The oldest part of the city is surrounded by a moat which also leads to the harbour. We booked a Paddan Boat Tour. Not something I'd usually do in my pathetic attempts not to be a 'tourist', but it is a great way to get a leisurely upload of information whilst chilling out. The boats are flat-bottomed and low in the water, to glide under the 20 bridges. It was so funny when we had to slide off our seats and onto the floor to make sure we weren't decapitated on the Osthyveln (cheese slicer), the ridiculously low bridge on the canal. It made me wonder at their planning! With that and the old, tall ship that was trapped in the harbour forever when they forgot about it whilst building the bridges! I bet they don't make good chess players! At 15 Swedish Krona, the boat tour isn't cheap. And yes, it is touristy but sometimes the tourist traps can offer a gem.
all duck for the 'cheese slicer'
As with most cities, Goteborg has neighbourhoods or districts, butting up against each other with atmospheres all of their own. My most favoured was Haga. It was once a working class suburb and bohemian hive of artists, but, as will ALL neglected areas that attract interesting types, it was eventually gentrified in the 1980's. I loved the wooden buildings, the like of which I'd not seen anywhere else. Minus 15 degree winters have rendered cafes cozy places for friends to meet in the warm. It was hard to choose which one to visit first! But, as it was lunchtime when we finished the boat tour, my first Swedish meal was to be at Raw Food Baren. I mistakenly thought the name meant an establishment with ideas of nobility. Baren, actually just means bar. It is the only raw food restaurant in Goteborg.
There were five lunch options on the menu. The server, a really helpful girl who turns out was originally from California, helped us choose. I opted for the raw carrot burgers. My friend had the raw pizza.
The place is quite small, with a cozy side 'nook'. We took a seat and waited for our meal. The food was nicely presented. As I watched plates heaped high with fresh ingredients delivered all around me, I felt a little disappointed at the rather miserly portion of carrot burger! The raw pizza was really very good. The base had a great 'bread' texture and it was so flavoursome. I'd highly recommend this place.
Kanelbullar - HUGE cinnamon buns, . Sadly not vegan!
One of the many cozy cafes in Haga district.
I loved this place. A vinyl record store with a cafe. So hip! Cafe Santa Domingo I discovered after on Happy Cow they serve some vegan snacks, too.
We stopped at Two Little Birds for vegan treats. The cafe is owned by a group of artists who have created a welcoming space for friends to gather and enjoy an ever changing display of art. The interior is mis-matched retro, with comfy chairs and 70's wallpaper. We loved it. As we loved the cakes too. My thin, chocolate covered gluten free vegan 'Snickers' bar was gorgeous. All of the owners bake, and one of them has been steadily steering them over to the vegan side of life. They don't tout it as such, not wanting to alienate anyone, rather say it they are just great bakes for most tastes.
Two Little Birds, is warm and open. Originally started by two girls with a love of Bob Marley…3 little birds..or so the legend goes.
With not much time to scout for vegan happenings, I did my best for you. Food in Gothemburg/Goteborg is so expensive. I think being vegan and healthy here would challenge most. 'Life' have a chain of stores, this one is called Grona Boden is a food market with many raw food, vegan, health products. It is where you'll find the best vegan cheese and a range of vegan sausages I didn't get to try. I found Fram to be more affordable, with bulk bin's, or bags in their case. The staff were helpful, English speaking as with ALL the interactions I had.
In the evening we met up with another friend and went to a vegetarian restaurant Hagabion, set in a gorgeous old brick building. It's where the cultured meet to chat, go to events and watch cinema. It felt so welcoming. A gold circular bar was centre stage. The sort of place you could rock up by yourself and it wouldn't be amiss. Great atmosphere with vintage furniture and retro movie posters.
We had the only vegan dish that we could see was gluten free. Though the menu was extensive.
We were not disappointed. It was delicious. Faultless. I wished I could have bagged up a few portions to take back to the UK!
Red Quinoa, thyme roasted tempeh, mushrooms and shoots on bitter red cabbage. Sounds a bit simple. I don't know what they did with it but the flavours were incredible. Filling too. No room for pud!
Unfortunately, the seaside sauna at Varberg was closed on the day we visited. The green privacy boards you can see under the pier are where the guests dip from steamy sauna to icy sea, for maximum health benefits. This is where I will head first when I next go to visit.
Finally, I thought I'd share with you my friends jetty on the lake. The mist is rising as the sun was hitting the still, frosty air. Here we began our days with a (very) refreshing skinny dip!
I hope to go back and explore more of Sweden next year. A friendly chat in a shop informed me that Northern Sweden has vegan cafes in even the small towns. If the quality of the food in Goteborg is anything to go by, this alone would be worth the trip!
A handy tip* If you go to the tourist information office in the city they have a Vegoguide till Goteborg. A leaflet containing most of the vegan/vegetarian restaurants, cafes and bars. It is provided by Animal Rights Sweden. Their website has an easy translation button.
Have you been to Sweden? Did you find any great vegan eats you want to tell us about? We'd love to know!