Trondheim is a city I have always wanted to visit. It's known as the capital of the north of Norway and is home to the awesome Nidaros cathedral, amazing jazz festivals, the wharves, and charming Bakklandet area. Trondheim is full of students, technology, bicycles, music and food. This makes it a super vibrant city, and exploring it as a vegan is way easier than you might expect. From pizza restaurants (yes with vegan cheese on the pizzas) to sushi places to 100% vegan cafes, Trondheim has everything my little vegan heart could possibly want.
I was over the moon when I was asked to come to Trondheim to hold a talk at Trondheim Vegan Fair by Emma Jarvis, the festivals organiser. It's an annual event which attracts a lot of people. As well as hosting a bunch of interesting stalls they also have talks, workshops, a fashion show, various cooking courses, a cinema zone and loads of activities for children. It caters to everyone basically!
I decided to do a presentation on intersectionality in activism and how we need to be critical of ourselves and the movements we take part in to see if we are covering all bases and the needs of everyone as we move forward in the way we promote animal advocacy and veganism. I think that its only through inclusivity that we can really help the vegan movement grow, so I decided to profile several activists and activist organisations and talk about the ways that they engage on different levels and through different mediums to reach different people. I worked every night the week before the fair trying to make sure I had done my research and writing as thoroughly as possible. I can be a bit of a perfectionist weirdo sometimes.
I arrived at the cosy Airbnb apartment I had rented in Trondheim on the Friday night and ordered some vegan food from Taste of India to eat whilst I worked on finishing my presentation for in the morning. It was kind of pricey but I didn't have much time to cook and wanted to treat myself. I made sure that when I ordered the food to add instructions not to use any dairy including butter, milk or ghee, and ordered a lovely chana masala with some vegetable samosas and vegetable pakoras. It arrived just in time as I was saving my presentation and packing my MacBook away for the night. The delivery guy turned up and was like 'veggie stuff for you, and don't worry there's no dairy in it!' It was so nice to be reassured without the anxiety that comes with having to ask them yourself. The curry was super tasty, perhaps not spicy enough for my taste but very filling and the sauce was thick and creamy. I couldn't finish it all so I saved some for Christian who was on his way over from Oslo.
One of the other reasons I had so been looking forward to this weekend is because the three of us in the Vegan Norway team never get a chance to meet up and hang out together. Most of our conversations and meetings are done online so we were really excited to share an apartment together for the weekend and hang out as buddies... Ok I must admit that we did do some work too. Christian arrived and an hour or so later Nick arrived too. We all had a cup of tea and caught up with each other then headed off to bed so we could be fresh for the vegan fair in the morning.
We got up early and took a nice walk to the venue where the fair was being held. It was in a cool part of town that was obviously very friendly to the vegan lifestyle. Walking past feminist pop up shops, thrift stores and organic cafes we were also greeted with banksy-ish street art disavowing oppression and capitalism and championing environmental activism. We got to the venue and were each given a cute little gift bag that had some treats inside: soy mince, an Oatly mango drink and lots of leaflets about the event and those who sponsored it.
It was almost time for my talk so I went to the lecture room to set up. I decided to call my talk 'Heroes and Villains.' and after a good week of hardcore work, I was now equipped to talk about and critique the likes of Martin Luther King, Emmeline Pankhurt, Siri Martinsen and of course I saved my harshest critique for my own work over at Vegan Norway. I had also made everyone in the audience a little gift pack which included an illustrated poster about veganism (drawn by me), some stickers, a worksheet about activism and some little cards which said 'Thanks! I ate here because you serve vegan food.' for people to give to restaurants and cafe owners when they have had a positive experience there.
I must say that these cards have been really effective so far in helping restaurants understand what veganism is because they start the conversation from a positive and complimentary, non-confrontational standpoint. The cards have some facts about veganism inside as well as an indication of how many vegans there are in Norway. One restaurant in Bergen (China Palace) actually developed a whole vegan menu because they received one of these cards. Anyway, I ended my talk by summarising that in the animal advocacy movement we should stop focusing on who are the heroes and villains pointing out each other flaws and weaknesses but instead use those weaknesses as opportunities to build each other up and the movement up to something stronger and more inclusive. It seemed to be well received and we had a few nice people come and chat to us afterwards about some of the points I raised.
After I was done it was time to get some lunch. We decided to each get a vegan burger from Mat Fra Hagen. I have to say that it was most definitely one of the best vegan burgers I have ever had. The whole Vegan Norway team are united in our passion for a good burger and we agreed that this one had just the right texture (not too crumbly but still quite juicy) a nice taste (not too bland but not overpowering either) and it was served on proper bread! Most places tend to make their vegan burgers with healthy bread because they think that vegans want to eat health food all the time, but Mat Fra Hagen got it right.
There were some really interesting stands at the fair. I spoke with the folks at Ducky, they are in the process of creating an app where you can log your environmentally friendly efforts in an app and see stats on how much of a difference you have made in comparison to how much of an effect on the environment the average person would have. I also chatted with the nice people at Effective Altruism. They use evidence and reason to ask "Where can a small set of individuals make the biggest difference?" The folks at Effective Altruism are made up of entrepreneurs, economists, CEOs, scientists, students and philanthropists. The nice people on their stand seemed to approach animal ethics from an educated and realistic standpoint, which was refreshing to me.
I then made my way to Scent.no; a vegan-friendly make up shop. It's really great that there was some make up and skin care stands at the fair as there isn't much choice for vegan skin care stores in the city and although I can buy whatever I like online, I love to try stuff first. I had a chat with one of their very helpful sales assistants and we chatted about finding the perfect vegan foundation for sensitive skin. I can't be shifted on my favourite though, I'll always love Illamasqua.
I didn't get a chance to see so many of the talks and workshops as I wanted to at the festival as there were so many of my buddies from Oslo and members of the Vegan Norway volunteer group (The Hive) that I needed to catch up with. My vegan buddies are spread out all over Norway, so events like this are so great as they bring us all together.
I made it to the pålegg workshop which was hosted by Jane and Thomas of Veganplan. We learned how to make some very simple and easy stuff like homemade nut butter, hummus, and carrot pâté. They did really well and managed to get the job done with some old food processors, I have so much respect for them; it must be really hard to turn up at a venue and use loads of equipment that you are not familiar with to cook stuff, and with a massive group of people watching you!
After this we were pretty tired but we knew that we had to go and find somewhere quiet so that we could work on the app. The Vegan Norway team isn't together very often you see, we are spread out all over Norway, so our time together is absolutely precious! We managed to stop off at the waffle stand where there were some lovely little kids making vegan treats and grabbed some before saying goodbye and leaving the festival.
We walked back through the cute cobbled Bergen streets and went into Kafe Soil, it's this wonderful little place that is a coffee shop in the day and a bar in the evenings. We chatted about some of the development work we are in the process of completing and about launching the app in Trondheim. We decided that then was as good a time as ever to tell everyone that the app will be available in Trondheim from the Friday 13th May! Christian and I discussed the technicalities that we will be facing as we update our systems and servers for what we have in store this year (it's going to be huge and really revolutionise the way you use the app and the vegan movement in Norway) and Nick presented to us what direction we should take and what we should focus on with our social media and blogging stuff. By the time we had got through with all our discussions and planning and organising we had got through three beers and some homemade vegan chocolates. It was time to go back to the apartment and try and have a nap before the afterparty.
Skip forward a few hours later and I found myself with my sparkly party dress on at a trendy bar in the city center called DIGS. It was a great location for the official Trondheim Vegan Fair afterparty. There was good beer, good friends and even better: vegan pizza smothered with melty vegan cheese. I caught up with old friends and met some new ones too. It's so nice to meet other people who are passionate about making the world more vegan friendly. We found ourselves chatting to some Trondheim vegans who were really interested in becoming our eyes on the ground in the city. They were really nice and gave us some amazing tips of places to check out ahead of our launch.
On Sunday it was time for us to squeeze in a bit of sightseeing and maybe visit a few places that we had been recommended to add to the app the night before. We stopped off at Kafe Soil again for some vegan granola served with blueberry oatly yoghurt and then went onto check out the amazing Nidaros cathedral that I had been dying to look at the whole weekend. To finish with, we just had to go back to Mat Fra Hagen to see what else they had on offer besides the vegan burgers that we tried the day before. We certainly weren't disappointed as we munched on a falafel wrap with curry vegenaise and another fancy burger, served with a fresh pressed juice.
We simply had a wonderful time in Trondheim and are so glad that the vegan scene is really taking off there. We want to say thankyou to everyone involved in Trondheim Vegan Fair and to everyone we met that weekend. Now that we are launching the app in Trondheim too, I think its safe to say that I'll be back quite often to gaze up at the cathedral, take a stroll down Bakkelandet and meet new Vegan Norway volunteers in cute little cafes along the wharves.
The Vegan Norway app launches in Trondheim on Friday 13th May
Do you want to be part of our volunteer group in Trondheim? Our team of trustworthy volunteers work across all of Norway to find new places to add to the app, attend product launches and event openings and engage in positive activism and advocacy work. Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org with a little about yourself and we will get back to you as soon as possible.