Okay, so I didn’t exactly book a trip to Finland specifically to try their vegan McDonald’s burger (it was actually so that my mum could meet her pen friend – how cute?!), but it was certainly high on my list of priorities when we got there.
It didn’t take long to find of course and was all sorts of mind blowing. Just seeing something called ‘McVegan’ on the menu felt so bizzare when in the UK all we can manage is a dry bean burger without mayo. It tasted amazing too – from what I remember, it was pretty much identical to a ‘normal’ Big Mac, with vegan mayo and sauces thrown in. Pretty sure I’ve been craving this ever since!
I know that the subject of eating in McDonald’s at all can be quite controversial in the vegan community, however personally I am a firm believer of supply and demand. Yes, in an ideal world I would love to be able to buy my food and eat solely from local, independent vegan stores and restaurants who hold the same values as me. Unfortunately, that is almost impossible right now, for geographical reasons as well as the cost involved. The best thing we can all do is to show demand for vegan options where we can. We’ve seen over the last few years how much this has affected the vegan food market – it’s expanded so rapidly and it keeps on going. There’s a vegan option in most restaurants now and supermarkets are expanding their plant-based ranges weekly. These little choices we make each day are truly making a difference, and if that means by purchasing a McDonald’s every so often then so be it.
As well as the McVegan, there seemed to be absolutely loads of vegan options in and around Helsinki. Even in the local supermarket opposite our air b’n’b I found vegan magnums, Oatly ice cream, ‘pepporoni’ pizza, seitan sausages and more. We actually ate dinner in the flat most nights because it certainly isn’t a cheap city, however there was no shortage of vegan cafes to enjoy in between touristing. Their go-to dairy alternative seemed to be Oatly, which was more than fine with me!
Aside from eating, we spent most of our time on foot walking around and taking in the city. It’s such a clean and chilled out place – especially compared to somewhere like London. Meeting my mum’s pen friend of over 40 years (yes, really) was amazing and she told us all about what it’s like to live there. I would adore the long summer days when the sun literally doesn’t go down but not sure I could handle the dark winters! Most people have saunas in their homes (we had one in our air b’n’b – bonus!), which I suppose helps a little bit.
We also had time to visit Tallinn, Estonia for the day and we spent our six hours in Old Town, which was absolutely stunning. It is like as a fairytale come to life, with stone buildings, cobbled streets, colourful walls and tall spires. Certainly the most beautiful town I have ever seen. For lunch we stumbled across a cosy vegan restaurant, V, where I enjoyed some delicious tacos. I even found a vegan bakery and couldn’t resist a chocolate cinnamon bun for the ferry home.
I loved my five days in Finland so much and would absolutely go back again, even if just to taste that delicious McVegan burger once more. However if they could bring it to the UK that would be even better! Here’s hoping.