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NUTRITION

A vegetarian’s guide to surviving in Denmark

It's not always easy to be a vegetarian in a country with a hot dog stand seemingly on every corner, but The Local's contributor Sparsh Sharma spoke with a few fellow vegetarians in the Aarhus area to come up with this mini guide.

It’s a hard life for vegetarians in Denmark, a country known for its huge consumption of meat, especially pork and beef. Just ask the 80 members of Raw Vegans Community in Aarhus, a Facebook group started to help fellow vegans and vegetarians make up for the lack of information on the right type of nutrition and where to find it. 
 
Being a vegetarian myself, I had to adjust to limited food items available in the supermarkets upon arrival in Denmark. So I was interested in finding out how some others were adjusting to these conditions.
 
Kirsten Vernon from Aars was about 19 when she decided to go vegan and later turned vegetarian. 
 
“I had many vegans in my network and had seen ‘riots’ against cruel treatment of animals by the meat industry that views them only as food and not living beings. I lived in Austria at that time and to be a vegan was quite exotic. But I had made my decision. It’s also a good way to detox your body,” she says.
 
Vernon got funny reactions from her family and friends and it took her time to adjust to her new lifestyle. 
 
“I lived in a small mountain town where it was normal to eat meat every day, like it is in Denmark. National dishes are only with meat in Austria. And it was quite difficult to find vegan and vegetarian food in the local supermarkets,” she says.
 
However, according to her, it was not an uphill task to learn new recipes. 
 
“As a teenager, I had many fasting periods and it was a natural thing for me to control my food patterns in order to enjoy food and beverages in a qualitative, instead of a quantitative, way,” she says. 
 
“Moreover, I have lived in cities like Berlin and Hamburg, where it is easy to try a lot of different dishes from around the world. That always gave me inspiration to be creative in the kitchen with recipes with no meat.”
 
Vernon has since added eggs and fish to her diet.
 
“I think it is better to be a vegetarian than a vegan. You learn how to control your food patterns and listen to your body. Fasting is also a very good way to do this.”
 
Kirsten Vernon takes a selfie with her favourite tofu
Kirsten Vernon takes a selfie with her favourite tofu.
 
Vernon rues the fact that Danish supermarkets do not sell a lot of vegetarian food.
 
“Germany is a dream destination for shopping vegetarian food. The supermarkets, especially the bio-markets, in Germany have a fantastic variety of healthy vegetarian food as well as fast food. In Denmark, this might happen someday but it will be a long way for this pig-rearing country to consume lesser meat.”
 
Another long-time vegetarian in Denmark, Janna Kelley says that although it’s not easy being a vegetarian in Denmark, it is becoming easier. 
 
“For example, if you go to just about any restaurant and request a vegetarian dish to be made specially for you, most of them are more than happy to do it. I have also often called restaurants ahead of time to request for a vegetarian dish and they appreciated it,” she says. 
 
Kelley shared with me some alternative protein food items and where to find them in Aarhus:
 
Quinoa – Ren Kost organic store on Jægergårdsgade 45, Aarhus C. Also, increasingly common in stores like Føtex. (You can read more about Quinoa here)
 
Soya – Salling food market. The brand is called Garden Gourmet, found in the frozen food section.
 
Pinto Beans – Føtex or any organic shop
 
Tofu – Føtex or any organic shop
 
Janna also recommended these restaurants with vegetarian options in Aarhus: Drudenfuss, Råbar, Den Grønne Papaya, and Pita Bar. More vegetarian-friendly Aarhus restaurants can be found here.
 
For those of you struggling with vegetarian recipes, Kelley suggests checking out some of these: here are some links suggested by her:
 
 
Zesty Quinoa Cakes (her personal favourite) 
 
 
She also suggested making veggie stir fry, spaghetti, casserole dishes, or just about any recipe that calls for meat, and then substituting it with soya.
 
Sparsh SharmaSparsh Sharma holds a Master's in business administration and a Bachelor's in electrical engineering. After having worked in the top Indian media companies, he decided to come to Denmark in the fall of 2012 to study at Aarhus University and later worked at Lego. A Danish green card holder, he is currently looking for marketing or consulting opportunities globally, while working as a freelance journalist for The Local Denmark and blogging about his experiences in Denmark at Denmark.dk, where this piece originally appeared. You can follow him on Twitter at @sparsh_s
 

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FOOD & DRINK

Nordic chef sets up world’s northernmost Michelin restaurant in Greenland

You can only get there by boat or helicopter, but Michelin-starred chef Poul Andrias Ziska hopes his restaurant in remote Greenland, far above the Arctic Circle, is worth the journey.

Nordic chef sets up world's northernmost Michelin restaurant in Greenland

The 30-year-old chef relocated his restaurant KOKS from the Faroe Islands in mid-June, leaving behind his relatively accessible address for Ilimanaq, a
hamlet of 50 inhabitants hidden behind icebergs on the 69th parallel north.

Housed in a narrow black wooden house, one of the oldest in Greenland, the restaurant can only accommodate about 20 people per service, and experiments with local produce, including whale and seaweed, with fresh produce almost impossible to find in the harsh climate.

“We try to focus on as much Greenlandic products as possible, so everything from Greenland halibut to snow crabs to musk ox to Ptarmigan, different herbs and different berries,” the tousled-haired, bearded chef tells AFP.

Double-Michelin-starred Faroese chef of KOKS restaurant Poul Andrias Ziska is photographed outside the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland on 28th June 2022

Double-Michelin-starred Faroese chef of KOKS restaurant Poul Andrias Ziska is photographed outside the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland on 28th June 2022. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

The young chef previously ran KOKS at home in the remote Faroe Islands, where he won his first star in 2017, his second in 2019, and the title of the
world’s most isolated Michelin restaurant. 

He plans to return there for a permanent installation, but explains he had always wanted to stretch his gastronomical legs in another territory in the
far north, like Iceland, Greenland or even Svalbard.

He finally chose Ilimanaq, located an hour’s boat trip from Ilulissat, the third-largest town in Greenland and famous for its huge glacier.

Greenland, the world’s largest island, is an autonomous Danish dependent territory.

Local products

“We just found it more suitable, more fun to do something completely different before we move back in our permanent restaurant,” he tells AFP from
his kitchen, set up in a trailer outside the house with the dining area.

With 20 courses, the extensive tasting menu will delight the taste buds for some 2,100 kroner ($280), excluding wine and drinks.

“The menu is exquisite and sends you to the far north and back,” Devid Gualandris, a charmed visitor, tells AFP.

“From the whale bites to the wines, from the freshly caught fish and shellfish to the curated desserts, everything is bursting with flavour.”

While whale meat is a staple food in Greenland and Ziska’s native Faroe Islands, whaling is banned in most of the world and activists have called for
an end to the practice.

A KOKS chef prepares food at the kitchen of the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland, on 28th June 2022.

A KOKS chef prepares food at the kitchen of the restaurant housed in the Poul Egedes House in Ilimanaq, Greenland, on 28th June 2022. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

An unlikely locale for a gourmet restaurant, Ilimanaq — Greenlandic for “place of hope” — is home to a small community living in picturesque wooden
houses, next to hiking trails and more fittingly a luxury hotel, making it an ideal stopover for wealthy tourists seeking to explore new frontiers.

For Ziska, the customers in Greenland are different.

“There are a lot of people for which the number one priority is to visit Greenland and then they come to our restaurant,” he says.

“In the Faroe Islands we had mainly people interested in coming and eating at our restaurant and then obviously also visiting the Faroe Islands,” the
chef explains.

In addition to the adventurers who have already been lured by the Arctic landscape, the Greenlandic Tourist Board hopes the restaurant will also help
attract gourmet travellers.   

People get seated in a restaurant overlooking Disko Bay in Ilulissat, western Greenland, on 30th June, 2022.

People get seated in a restaurant overlooking Disko Bay in Ilulissat, western Greenland, on 30th June, 2022. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

“The unique combination of high-level gastronomy, the inherent sustainability of the North Atlantic cuisine and the characteristic nature and resources of the Disko Bay, speaks to all our senses,” Visit Greenland’s director, Hjortur Smarason, said when announcing the arrival of KOKS.

Accommodation at the Ilimanaq Lodge, the current home of the KOKS restaurant in Ilimanaq, Greenland, where guests can watch whales and floating icebergs in the Disko Bay. Photo by Odd ANDERSEN / AFP

A long-overlooked destination, Greenland — an Arctic island territory nine times the size of the UK — welcomed more than 100,000 tourists in 2019, nearly double its population, before Covid cut the momentum.

Smarason said the presence of KOKS “is exactly what we strive for in our effort to reach a certain distinguished kind of guests”.  The restaurant is open between the 12th June and 8th September, 2022 and 2023. 

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