CLASSIC ESTONIAN POTATO SALAD VEGAN VERSION

This classic potato salad recipe is perfect for the weekend or a family get-together. We tend to make it every time we have a family birthday or holiday. Since Estonians really love potato in all forms, potato salad is a certain must have on the party table. A little known fact is that this popular potato salad in Estonia is originally from Russia - called the Olivier salad or more commonly Russian salad. 

Growing up I really mastered making the traditional Estonian potato salad. I remember myself chopping the ingredients sometimes into the early morning hours if there was some bigger event coming the next day. But every time it really was worth it. After going vegan this was the one dish that I missed the most, so I had to come up with a vegan version of it. And once again I proved to myself that there isn't anything you will miss out on when becoming a vegan. Almost everything can be veganised, and often times the end result may be even better than the original dish!

Down below I have written down two options for the salad. Some people tend not to like canned peas, so there is no need to add them. But when you really want to try the Estonian version I suggest to try it with the peas and some vegan sausage. 

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CLASSIC ESTONIAN POTATO SALAD VEGANISED

  • 1.5kg potatoes, boiled with skin until soft
  • 1 jar of your favourite pickles
  • 1 long cucumber
  • about 3 boiled carrots chopped finely (or if in a hurry use salad carrot sold boiled and chopped)
  • salt and dill
  • Your favourite vegan mayo for dressing. I usually use "Taimetoitlaste kaste" and "Alpro sojakoor" together. So I basically just mix the vegan mayo together with the vegan cream. 
  • If you want to make the real traditional version add a jar of canned green salad peas and 250g of vegan ham or sausage
  1. Dice all the ingredients as small as you can into one bowl
  2. Add salt and some dill.
  3. Add the vegan mayo dressing, mix very well and let set before eating (up to 4 hours)

Although there are so many jokes out there in the vegan community how veganism ruins family dinners, it really shouldn't be this way. Even when your family isn't supportive in the beginning, don't try to oppose them and embrace the fact that they just don't have adequate knowledge on veganism. Love creates love - and the perfect way to help them understand the nature of veganism is to be a good example yourself.

Prepare them some delicious vegan dinner or show them some documentaries if they're interested. The key is to be patient and not to drown them in information, but at the same time you should be prepared to answer some of the basic questions when need be. It's really important to be informed about veganism and proper nutrition before you go defending veganism. So nobody can get you blindsided or make you feel stupid. 

But in my opinion one of the best ways to maintain loving family dinners is to veganise your family favourites and let them see that there really isn't anything you will be giving up being vegan, quite the opposite - there is only more to gain. 

Veganism is not about giving anything up or losing anything; it is about gaining the peace within yourself that comes from embracing nonviolence and refusing to participate in the exploitation of the vulnerable
— Gary L. Francione

GORILLA VEGAN ATTIRE

A few weeks ago I had this amazing opportunity to model for an Estonian company called Gorilla. They are launching new T-shirt designs soon on their homepage gorilla.ee  Each shirt is with it's own inspiring vegan message, cruelty free and marked with the Fair Wear Foundation certificate - that stands for a fair production process. While being aware of animal cruelty and standing for the vegan message it's also really important to stand for human rights as well. The wages would be fair and working conditions humane. 

All sentient beings should have at least one right -
the right not to be treated as property
— Gary L.Francione

I am so happy that vegan attire is getting more and more available in Estonia. We don't have to search the Internet anymore and order T-shirts with questionable value, not knowing where they really come from or by whom they're manufactured. Companies like Gorilla have made it really easy to spread the vegan message and I'm more than happy to help them do so.

These new T-shirt designs are dedicated to the fur animals and fighting against fur farming. On them you can find slogans like "Foxes are friends" and "Foxes are for hugging and scarves for getting warm". Trust me they're quite catchy in Estonian. The little foxes are so snugly and adorable!

Oh and the most amazing part of the photo shoot was getting to know these wonderful girls! And the crew behind the camera of course! 

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ORDER YOUR OWN VEGAN T-SHIRTS HERE:

VEGAN CHICKPEA TUNA

Before going vegan I absolutely loved all kinds of seafood. Fish, scallops, shrimps... you name it. So for me taste wasn't an issue - at least then. Fish was also the last thing I gave up when transitioning to a vegan diet. It was rather ironic considering that we actually have fish at home as pets - regardless of that I still miss some familiar flavours - tuna for example.  

I have always loved savoury foods more than sweets. So now when it comes to preparing vegan holiday party dishes, especially snacks, I get to be especially creative.

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VEGAN CHICKPEA TUNA

  • 1 can of organic chickpeas
  • 1 marinated pickle
  • small red bell pepper
  • 1-2 green onions
  • 2 tbsp of dark soy sauce
  • 2 tbsp of sweet mustard
  • black pepper
  1. rinse the chickpeas and mash them 
  2. chop the pickles, quarter of bell pepper and green onions very finely
  3. Add the soy sauce, mustard and black pepper to taste

I guess you could add a little bit of seaweed to make the taste more fishy. Either way it's a perfect replacement to make a vegan tuna sandwich or as little snacks. For Estonia's 100th birthday celebrations I served it on black bread crisps with a drop of vegan mayo. Used a little bit of blue food colour to make it more festive.

Whilst writing the post I got a craving to eat it again on some toast!

ESTONIA 100

I am truly proud to be an Estonian. One in a million. (Yes, there are only 1,3 million Estonians). Yesterday this little Nordic country celebrated its 100th birthday. We spent it with my family around a big dinner. Like every other holiday there are some classic dishes that absolutely have to be on the table and it has been my pleasure to veganise some of the family recipes. 

In my family traditional food has always been really important. To taste familiar flavours among loved ones. Being vegan doesn't always mean you have to give up those family dinner parties because like I always love to say: Almost every dish can be successfully veganised. 

Over the next week I will share some of the recipes with you guys. Starting with the highly requested traditional Rosolje beetroot salad. So stay tuned!

Here are some pictures from yesterday's party. We ended up cooking so much great food that we will enjoy most of it today as well. So, have a great Sunday! Spend it with your family, loved ones, and delicious vegan food. 

MY VEGAN STORY

There are many reasons why people go vegan. Some do it for their health, some do it for the planet, some do it for ethical or religious reasons. Other people just don't want to contribute to animal suffering. For me the main reason of going vegan was the health question. We are brought up believing that being ill is something inevitable, that conditions like heart disease, diabetes, and cancer are bound to strike most of us in old age. Only recently have I realised that you don't have to spend the last decades of your life fighting with horrible diseases like many of my ancestors did. I decided to take my health in my own hands.

At first I felt like I had been living in a lie. Like I mentioned in my previous blog post, I was raised following the standard Western diet in the Nordic countries where meat, fish, and dairy were considered the most important parts of a healthy diet. Luckily my family had relatively healthy eating habits. We usually didn't consume much processed or junk food and my mother is an excellent cook. But nonetheless we did consume a lot of animal products. So at one point when I started my research about veganism I felt like I had found the Holy Grail of health and prosperity. I couldn't believe that all of this information was kept from me. Right now it feels almost ridiculous that I believed myths like "cows give milk all the time" and "protein equals meat". It wasn't that I'm dumb, I just hadn't had the need or chance to educate myself with the truth. As they say: ignorance is bliss - and I truly was in bliss. 

After years of research and on-off relationships with plant based diets it finally dawned to me after having a child of my own. The moment I had her I realised that I don't want to raise her in the same lie I was brought up. I can gamble with my own health but I can't forgive myself if I don't offer her the best I can - giving my knowledge. Satisfying our taste buds or living within the norm isn't worth compromising my child's life for. The final step to going fully vegan I owe to my wonderful and supporting husband. Together we decided that we won't teach our child to live an unhealthy lifestyle just because most of the society thinks it's the norm. We truly believe that a plant based diet is the only option for the future generations. Even now veganism spreads every passing month, we can barely imagine what the situation will be when our daughter grows up.  

I also felt the need to raise her with love and compassion towards all living beings. Animals aren't there for us to consume, and cruelty isn't something you should be comfortable with. Eating meat is usually the easiest part to change, but giving up dairy products is nearly a sin this far North. Especially for a cheese lover like me. (Today I know I was just addicted to the casein). But after having a baby and breastfeeding myself it finally hit me. How would I feel if someone would steal my baby's food? I immediately felt enormous compassion  towards dairy cows and as it turned out - cutting out cheese isn't an issue if you're aware of the true cost of your food. 

Although my vegan journey started with the desire to be healthy and get the most of life, I now feel like all the other causes are equally important. And now I can proudly call myself a true vegan. 

In today's world everyone should have the right to access information about their food, be aware of its origins and know how it affects your body - even if they don't intend to become vegan. And to be fair I truly wonder how somebody can still be living in the dark in - especially in technically advanced countries where via the Internet all of human knowledge is easily accessible. 

If slaughterhouses had glass walls, everyone would be a vegetarian.
— Paul McCartney

Today we know that being a vegetarian isn't nearly enough, but nonetheless the point remains. 

The documentaries that influenced us the most: