Could this be Sweden’s most vegan-friendly city?

Malmö may be famous for its falafel, but there’s more to its vegan offering than everyone’s favourite fried chickpea balls.

Could this be Sweden’s most vegan-friendly city?
Bageri Leve in Malmö serves up mouth-watering vegan fika. Photo: Bageri Leve

Meander around Malmö and you’ll notice the city has no shortage of places to eat.

In fact, Malmö is home to some of Sweden’s top restaurants, with everything from traditional Swedish köttbullar to authentic Syrian cuisine and, OK, more than a handful of falafel restaurants.

But there’s something unique about Malmö’s foodie scene, and it isn’t just the ubiquity of Middle Eastern restaurants.

“Malmö’s vegan food scene is really diverse,” says Björn Gadd, who runs an Instagram account dedicated to vegan grub in the city.

“There’s something for everyone here whether you want ethnic food, cheap eats, or fine dining.”

But has Malmö always been famous for its vegan-friendly fare?

The short answer is “no”, say Björn. It wasn’t that long ago that Malmö’s vegan scene was less of a scene and more a couple of coordinates on a map.

Start planning your vegan odyssey to Malmö

“When I moved here 12 years ago there were only two vegetarian restaurants in Malmö,” he recalls.

Fast forward 12 years and there are now no less than 169 restaurants listed as ‘vegetarian-friendly’ on travel and restaurant review website TripAdvisor. For such a compact city, that’s a lot to choose from!

From cool Kafé Agnez, a multiple award-winning organic and vegan cafe, to The Vegan Bar, a burger kitchen with an entirely meat-free menu, people come from far and wide for a bite of Malmö’s famed vegan fodder.


A post shared by The Vegan Bar (@theveganbar) on Nov 7, 2017 at 12:45am PST

But the transformation didn’t happen overnight.

“It was definitely gradual,” says Björn, talking about the city’s metamorphosis into a giant vegan smörgåsbord.

Word began to spread that Malmö’s chefs were pushing the boundaries of standard vegan cuisine, and soon anyone with a predilection for meat-free meals came flocking to the city.

“Now there’s a really big crowd of people here who want to eat vegan food,” says Björn.

But for him, the true mark of a vegan-friendly city isn’t the number of exclusively vegan restaurants, but the number of regular restaurants serving vegan dishes. And not just the same old vegetable ragu or mushroom burgers that have become standard ‘vegan alternatives’.

“I’d say in the last five years it’s become the norm that mainstream restaurants in Malmö serve great vegan options too,” says Björn.

For example, he recommends recently-opened Mutantur, the brainchild of Skåning chef Alexander Sjögren, once the Swedish competitor in the Bocuse d’Or, the world’s most prestigious gastronomic competition.

“Sjögren opened his new place just a few weeks before Christmas. There are about 25 a la carte dishes and a third are always vegan,” praises Björn.

It’s refreshing and rare, he says, for one of Sweden’s top chefs to put just as much thought into the meat-free options on a menu.

Another of Björn’s favourite lunch spots is Pink Head Noodle Bar in Malmö’s Saluhall which serves three options a day, with one or two always vegan (or with the option to be made vegan).


A post shared by Vegan Foodie (@veganfoodnerd) on Jun 20, 2017 at 9:36am PDT

“The noodles are handmade in front of you and the sauces are amazing. I definitely suggest trying it if you want to try something new and a bit different,” he says.

Of course, no visit to a Swedish city would be complete without trying out the local fika. And in Malmö, even the cake and pastries are vegan- friendly.

Plan your foodie trip to vegan-friendly Malmö

Bageri Leve has become really big on the vegan scene in just a few months,” says Björn, referring to the bakery which opened in February 2017.

“They have a really exciting menu which changes every week. I have a lot of friends that go every Thursday to try the new doughnut flavour, which is always really different, like lemon and thyme for example.”

Didrik Persson, one of the two co-founders of Bageri Leve, explains they saw a demand for vegan fika but wanted to move away from the current ‘raw food’ fad sweeping Scandinavia.

Vegan doughnuts at Bageri Leve. Photo: Bageri Leve

“We started making vegan fika because we saw lots of people wanted pastries and not raw food. To bake with plant-based ingredients is in line with our company’s environmental thinking, so it was a win-win!”

And it’s certainly paid off, says Didrik, explaining the response has been hugely positive.

“I think it’s because if you eat a vegan diet you miss a lot of the food like the pastries you could eat before. We’re baking traditional pastry but it’s vegan-friendly, so you can eat a semla or doughnut instead of trendy ‘raw food’”.

The bakery introduces a new plant-based doughnut every Friday, as well as serving different vegan breads, tartlets, and buns every day. It’s just one of many spots around Malmö where foodies can get their vegan fix in the city.

But don’t fear if you can’t get a reservation for a restaurant you’d hoped to visit while in Malmö. Björn reassures tourists that they’re never more than a few metres away from another vegan must-visit.

“Malmö is a small big town. You can walk everywhere, so if you don’t get a table at one restaurant just walk 100 metres and you’ll find another great vegan spot!”

This article was produced by The Local Client Studio and sponsored by Malmö stad

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Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

From Danbo to Danablu and the Danish feta that can't be called feta - Denmark produces over four hundred thousand tonnes of cheese each year and exports it across the world. So why is Danish cheese so popular, and what are the country's best-loved cheeses?

Why does Denmark produce so much cheese?

Cheese-making is a serious business in Denmark. In 2021, the country produced a total of 454,500 tonnes of cheese and Danish cheese has won awards at the World Championship Cheese Contest.

The tradition goes back to the Viking era and today, the country’s climate and pastoral land make it ideal for producing cheese (ost). About three quarters of the country’s milk production is turned into cheese, butter and milk powder.

Not only is cheese popular in Denmark, where it’s eaten with pretty much any meal and snack (can you even have a bolle [bread roll] without ost?), it is also eaten around the world in countries including South Korea, New Zealand, Canada, Nigeria and even France.

In 2021, Denmark exported a total of 401,845 tonnes of cheese, making it one of the top cheese exporters in the world. The biggest importer of Danish cheese was Germany (94,419 tonnes), followed by Sweden (52.924 tonnes) and the UK (42,905 tonnes). 18,097 tonnes of cheese was exported to Japan and 5,657 to the United States.

What types of cheese does Denmark make?

The different types of cheese in Denmark can be hard to distinguish and there are a lot of them. You can quite easily end up with a fridge full of strong smells that you weren’t expecting. 

Danbo, often called ‘Denmark’s national cheese’, is the most produced and consumed cheese in Denmark. It has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, meaning it can only be made in Denmark to specific Danish standards.

Danbo is sold under various trade and brand names, including LillebrorGamle Ole, and Riberhus. Lillebror (meaning Little brother) is very mild and often sold in childrens’ packs, whereas Gamle Ole (meaning Old Ole) is matured for a long time, which means it’s strong and smelly. Caraway seeds are sometimes added to this cheese.

Esrom also has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status and is made from pasteurised cow’s milk. It is semi-soft with small holes and is pretty pungent.

Havarti is one of the most famous Danish cheeses. It’s a bit like a cheddar in that the taste can be mild, but the longer the cheese is stored, the stronger it gets. 

Danablu is a Danish Blue soft blue cheese, similar to Roquefort. It has a strong aroma and a sharp and a little salty taste. Danablu is often used in America to make blue cheese dressing for salads and blue cheese dip for chicken wings. 

A dairy farm in Klemensker, Bornholm has twice been named world champion in cheese making. Photo: Morten Juhl/Ritzau Scanpix

Mycella is a veined blue cheese made from pasteurised cow’s milk on the island of Bornholm and is similar to Gorgonzola. It goes well in a salad or cheese platter or even crumbled on top of an open sandwich.

Blå kornblomst, meaning ‘blue cornflower’, is a creamy blue cheese with a mild, slightly salty taste. The cheese is white to yellowish with blue tinges and is made from pasteurised cow’s milk on North Jutland.

Danish rygeost, meaning ‘smoked cheese’ is mild, light and smokey. It originates from 19th century Funen, with some believing it dates back to the Viking Age. 

A dish of potato, monkfish and smoked cheese.

A dish of potato, monkfish and smoked cheese. Photo: Thomas Lekfeldt/Ritzau Scanpix

Vesterhavsost, meaning ‘North Sea Cheese’, is a semi-hard cheese with a slightly salty taste as it is ripened in the sea air of North Jutland. It’s referred to as the Danish version of Gouda. 

Fyrmester or Fyrtårnsost, meaning ‘The Lighthouse Keeper’ or ‘Lighthouse Cheese’, is an extra-mature version of the vesterhavsost, aged for at least 52 weeks.

Samsø cheese is similar to Emmentale and made on the island of Samsø in Kattegat.

Hvid ost, meaning ‘white cheese’, is Denmark’s equivalent to feta cheese but uses cow’s milk rather than the goat or sheep’s milk used in Greek feta cheese. It’s milder and doesn’t crumble like Greek feta cheese because it’s made differently, using something called ultrafiltration.

There have been debates as to whether this actually makes it feta cheese. Earlier this year, Denmark lost a case at the European Court of Justice over its farmers exporting cheese outside the EU labelled feta, something only Greece can do. The cheese is sometimes labelled in supermarkets as ‘salad cubes’ (salat-tern).

There is, perhaps, one thing that unites almost all Danish cheeses: they are sliced using the characteristic ostehøvl (cheese slicer), the quintessential Danish kitchen utensil.

There are two types of ostehøvl: a wire-based type and a version that looks a bit like a trowel, with a raised edge and a gap in the middle for the sliced cheese to pass through.

Cheese vocab:

Blød ost: Soft cheese

Halvfast ost: Semi-soft cheese 

Fast ost: Semi-hard cheese 

Hård ost: Hard cheese

Ekstra hård ost: Extra hard cheese

Frisk ost: Fresh cheese

Ostehøvl: cheese slicer