5 Picks from Helsinki's Vegan Fair

On September 28th and 29th, the Helsinki vegan fair Vegemessut was held for the second time this year in Kaapelitehdas, and fourth time overall since 2017. In this fair, everything is vegan, and the purpose is to showcase how easy, approachable and especially how tasty it is to lead a vegan lifestyle in Finland. The fair has been extremely succesful; so much so that organizers have had to divide the day's program into two sessions to avoid overcrowding. It's starting to look like veganism is here to stay!

These are my five discoveries upon attending the Saturday afternoon session:

1. Beanit

This is hands-down my new favorite vegan protein. It’s made by the creators of Härkis, which is a Fava bean-based so-called “meat replacement” that made its debut in Finland a few years ago. Now, they’ve started producing Fava bean chunks or strips and they are heavenly. Especially the marinated ones. Seriously, if you only try out one thing in this list, make it this -- you won’t be disappointed.

2. Cashew cheese

Vegan cheese is very hit and miss. More often than not, it tastes a bit plasticky for my taste, especially when cold or by itself. At this fair, however, I discovered Ilo’s cashew-based cheese -- for the first time, a vegan cheese that I actually enjoyed the taste of. Is this a dream come true? (Bonus: according to the seller, this should be available in most typical supermarkets in Finland, such as S- and K-Group supermarkets).

3. Döner Harju

This Helsinki-based restaurant had a stand in the fair and I was not expecting much from it, but it turned out to be a huge surprise! But what I was most surprised to find out was that they have recently started to sell their products in shops, too, which I will be sure to look out for.

4. Chocochilin arkiruoka (Chocochili’s weekday food)

This recipe book is only in Finnish, but it was one of my main reasons to attend this fair. Vegan food blogger Elina Innanen shares recipes that can be made in thirty minutes or less. I dream of these kinds of recipe books, for spending more time than I need to in the kitchen is something I have a lot of trouble with. I can’t wait to start trying out these recipes!

5. Lihan loppu (The End of Meat)

Unfortunately, this book is also in Finnish, but it’s definitely worthy of being translated soon. This is an essay of sorts in which writer Suvi Auvinen discusses whether we are at the cusp of the end of meat-eating. It’s a very approachable read, where the writer discusses the implications of meat-eating not only from a health perspective, but also from a sociopolitical angle. I think it’s a great book for those omnivores who are wondering what veganism is all about, or for vegans who want to understand the wider context of the decisions they are making.