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

For members


Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden

Do you know your biskvi from your bakelse? Your chokladboll from your kanelbulle? Here's a guide guaranteed to get your mouth watering.

Five sweet treats you should be able to identify if you live in Sweden


The most famous of all Swedish cakes outside Sweden, the classic kanelbulle (cinnamon bun) is the symbol of Sweden abroad, no doubt helped by the fact that Swedish furniture giants IKEA stock frozen buns in their food stores for customers to bake off at home.

Forget American tear-apart cinnamon rolls baked in a pan and slathered with cream cheese frosting: a classic Swedish cinnamon bun is baked individually using a yeasted dough spread with cinnamon sugar and butter. The dough is then rolled up, sliced into strips which are then stretched out and knotted into buns, baked, glazed with sugar syrup and sprinkled with pearl sugar.

Home-made varieties skip the stretching and knotting step, rolling the cinnamon-sprinkled dough into a spiral instead which, although less traditional, tastes just as good.

Kanelbullar in Sweden often include a small amount of Sweden’s favourite spice: cardamom. If you’re a fan of cardamom, try ordering the kanelbulle‘s even more Swedish cousin, the kardemummabulle or cardamom bun, which skips the cinnamon entirely and goes all-out on cardamom instead.

Sweden celebrates cinnamon bun day (kanelbullens dag) on October 4th.

Photo: Lieselotte van der Meijs/


A great option if you want a smaller cake for your fika, the chokladboll or ‘chocolate ball’ is a perfect accompaniment to coffee – some recipes even call for mixing cold coffee into the batter.

They aren’t baked and are relatively easy to make, meaning they are a popular choice for parents (or grandparents) wanting to involve children in the cake-making process.

Chokladbollar are a simple mix of sugar, oats, melted butter and cocoa powder, with the optional addition of vanilla or coffee, or occasionally rum extract. They are rolled into balls which are then rolled in desiccated coconut (or occasionally pearl sugar), and placed in the fridge to become more solid.

Some bakeries or cafés also offer dadelbollar or rawbollar/råbollar (date or raw balls), a vegan alternative made from dried dates and nuts blended together with cocoa powder.

Chocolate ball day (chokladbollens dag) falls on May 11th.

Photo: Magnus Carlsson/


The lime-green prinsesstårta or ‘princess cake’ may look like a modern invention with it’s brightly-coloured marzipan covering, but it has been around since the beginning of the 1900s, and is named after three Swedish princesses, Margareta, Märta and Astrid, who were supposedly especially fond of the cake.

The cake consists of a sponge bottom spread with jam, crème pâtissière and a dome of whipped cream, covered in green marzipan and some sort of decoration, often a marzipan rose.

Prinsesstårtor can also be served in individual portions, small slices of a log which are then referred to as a prinsessbakelse.

Although the cakes are popular all year round, in the Swedish region of Småland, prinsesstårta is eaten on the first Thursday in March, due to this being the unofficial national day of the Småland region (as the phrase första torsdagen i mars is pronounced fössta tossdan i mass in the Småland dialect).

Since 2004, the Association of Swedish Bakers and Confectioners has designated the last week of September as prinsesstårtans vecka (Princess cake day).

Photo: Sinikka Halme, Creative Commons BY-SA 4.0.


Belonging to the more traditional cakes, a Budapestbakelse or “Budapest slice” is a type of rulltårta or “roll cake” similar to a Swiss roll, consisting of a light and crispy cake made from whipped egg whites, sugar and hazelnut, filled with whipped cream and fruit, often chopped conserved peaches, nectarines or mandarines, and rolled into a log.

The log is then sliced into individual portions and drizzled with chocolate, then often topped with whipped cream and a slice of fruit. 

Despite its name, the Budapest slice has nothing to do with the city of Budapest – it was supposedly invented by baker Ingvar Strid in 1926 and received the name due to Strid’s love for the Hungarian capital.

Of course, the Budapestbakelse also has its own day – May 1st.

Kanelbullar (left), chokladbollar (centre) and biskvier (right). Photo: Tuukka Ervasti/


Another smaller cake, a biskvi (pronounced like the French biscuit), consists of an almond biscuit base, covered in buttercream (usually chocolate flavoured), and dark chocolate.

Different variants of biskvier exist, such as a Sarah Bernhardt, named after the French actress of the same name, which has chocolate truffle instead of buttercream.

You might also spot biskvier with white chocolate, often with a hallon (raspberry) or citron (lemon) filling, or even saffransbiskvier around Christmastime.

Chokladbiskviens dag is celebrated on November 11th.