Tell us a little about yourself.
I’m a Swedish vegan in my thirties. Originally from the north of Sweden but now living in Stockholm, together with my family (wife and son). I love lifting weights and my main sport is Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu. Daytime I work as a software architect and every other waking time is spent either in the gym, with friends and family, or running Athlegan.com – helping vegans get stronger and more fit.
What lead you to veganism? How long ago?
I’ve always felt that something was wrong about what we ate but it took me quite some time to find an approach that worked for me. Initially I cut out farmed animals and only ate game. Then, realizing I never actually eat game, I decided to cut out all meat and become vegetarian. It took me another five years of small nudges – videos, memes, articles, etc – before I finally made the full switch.
Veganism stared me in the face the entire time but I, for some reason, never considered it because I felt it was too extreme. Now, having made the transition, I can’t understand how monumentally stupid that was. What’s extreme is not being vegan.
When you first went vegan how did you phase out your non-vegan food, clothing and other items?
I accidentally had only vegan items at the time I made the full switch, so this wasn’t an issue for me.
Do you make any exceptions for yourself or if you are married with kids – your family, when it comes to veganism?
Ask my family and they’ll say I’m extremely strict with our 2.5 year old son. I, however, see no other viable option – it’s my duty as a parent to teach my children the difference between right and wrong. I can’t very well let him steal sometimes but then claim it’s actually wrong. The same obviously goes for how we treat animals.
Do you believe we should show children the process of how animals are turned into meats?
I think we should treat it exactly like we do any violence against each other. We should talk about it openly, so that we can be clear about what’s acceptable and what’s not. Graphic imagery has its place, of course, but just as we don’t show shove photos of victims of assault on our children, nor should we with animal abuse.
What does being vegan mean to you?
For me veganism is about letting others live out their life the way they choose. If someone attacks me, however, I will respond accordingly and appropriately – whether it’s a human or a mosquito.
Is it every vegan’s duty to become an activist?
I believe it’s everyone’s duty to bring more good into the world. There are too many assholes causing needless pain and suffering and we’ll never be able to prevent that entirely. All we can do is offset that by building up more than they’re tearing down and lead by example, so that others might be more inclined to do the same.
How compassionate or empathetic are you towards non-vegans?
Very. I used to be one myself, so I can totally relate to the thought process. I’m also a father, so I’m very familiar with guiding someone who doesn’t understand, with love and compassion.
Any recommended Vegan books?
Any recommended social sites, blogs or pages?
Aside from my own Athlegan.com and our Facebook group, Athlegans, I’m a big fan of these:
What’s your favorite Vegan restaurant?
Jebena. An eritrean restaurant in Stockholm, Sweden. Not an exclusively vegan restaurant, per se, but their vegan options are incredible.
Please share your favorite vegan recipe?
Mapu tofu with soy mince!
Some encouraging words for new Vegans?
You’re doing the right thing. The hardest part about being vegan is dealing with non-vegans, so remember your reasons and stand up for what you believe in. It takes a lot of bravery to do so but you have no idea how many people you’re influencing; how many look at your example and start questioning the way they live their own lives. Every drop in the ocean causes ripples and together we’re creating a storm.
What is the vegan scene like in your city?
Stockholm is an extremely vegan-friendly city to live in! Pretty much every restaurant has some option for us, waiters know how to cater to us, and the supermarkets are full of vegan options. Not to mention that most people in general are very open to the idea and at least eat vegetarian regularly.
What personal recommendations can you make for people to meet other vegans?
Get online! You might be surprised by the amount of vegans around you, that you had no idea existed, until you meet them online. If you’re into veganism AND strength and fitness, be sure to check out our Facebook group to meet likeminded people: https://www.facebook.com/groups/athlegans/
What does living cruelty-free mean to you? Does it extend to the way you as a vegan treats other humans too?
One hundred percent it does. It’s all about a systematic abuse of each other, which vegans (and other social justice movements) are turning against, regardless of what beings make up the weaker group being abused.
What are you favorite Vegan non-food products or companies?
Strength Shop, hands down. They supply a lot of the strength training world with top-notch equipment, without anyone knowing that all their products are (intentionally) vegan. It’s a sneaky form of activism that I just love.
What is the toughest Vegan item to find that you need?
Halloumi cheese and salmon sushi. I think those are the only items I miss, and haven’t been able to properly replace/upgrade, as a vegan.
Talk about a time when you struggled with your Veganism?
When my toddler son cried at the Christmas table because daddy wouldn’t let him eat egg, like everyone else. That was incredibly hard and I kept thinking that “it wouldn’t be so bad, would it?”. It did, however, teach me the important lesson of preparation. Next time, I’m cooking delicious alternatives to everything that will be on offer.
Athlegan.com – Vegan strength and fitness