My first trip to Iceland was as a meat-eater and the only time I had any difficulty was deciding which of the plethora of daytrips to take.
Returning several years later as a vegetarian, things became trickier. In downtown Reykjavik, there was Glo, a health food restaurant that, while serving one meat dish, was otherwise all vegetarian. But outside of the country’s capital, I often resorted to bread and cheese, or the famous kleinur (and why not? I couldn’t get them anywhere else).
In the years that followed, I became both a vegan and animal rights activist. My thoughts returned to Iceland, mostly with wonder at whether or not I’d ever be able to visit one of my favourite countries again without starving to death.
As it turns out, there is no need to panic. A lengthy and up-to-date list of vegan food all over Iceland by designer and vegan Ragnar Freyr soon made me want to hop on the next plane there, along with the knowledge that groups like Anonymous For The Voiceless, Animal Save and Sea Shepherdarealso active in encouraging meat-eaters to make the switch. Even Glo, my old stomping ground, has since gone completely vegan.
“It’s a global movement and Iceland is right there with everyone else,” Ragnar explains. “All the grocery stores in Iceland carry some vegan products. (If not processed food then vegetables) Most restaurants have vegan options clearly labelled on their menu and if not can cater to vegans if asked. There has never been a better time to be vegan in the countryside of Iceland.”
For a country whose most notoriouslyfamous dishes include the likes of Hákarl (rotten shark)and Svið (Sheep’s head), this might come as a surprise. Ragnar notes that the country is moving towards veganising many of its well-known meat dishes.
“There’s already a vegan shark candy on the market,” he notes. “I doubt we will see vegan svið any time soon since vegans don’t really want to eat a face. But, personally, I would just want those traditions to die with changed and better behaviors. I see no values in holding on to traditions that cause pain and suffering.”
Veganæs for their amazing seitan burgers
Vínyl for the thama Thai noodles
Gló Vegan for the Mexico bowls
Jömm when they open again
Íslenska flatbakan for the amazing seven vegan pizzas on the menu.