A vegan starter’s guide – An interview with Karry Hedberg

Karry Hedberg has been an animal rights activist all his adult life. In 2015, he became the owner of the vegan product shop Vegekauppa in the capital city of Finland, Helsinki. He is also involved in organizing the yearly vegan festival Vegemessut.

We spoke with Karry to find out what each of us can do to live more consciously when it comes to animal rights:

Reducing animal-based products in your daily life is a big step into the right direction.

And we are not just talking about animal rights here. Recent studies have shown that reducing meat and milk products is the most effective way to battle climate change meaningfully. So why not try switching – at least partially – to plant-based products instead? “For example, just substituting meat with soy-based products is actually really effective”, says Karry Hedberg. He recommends finding out more about different substitutes for animal-based proteins and eggs.

A vegan lifestyle has actual effects on your health. Studies also show that a vegan diet brings many health benefits that have to do with reducing or giving up meat and dairy products. Vegans have less heart diseases, cancer and diabetes than regular carnivores. In short, vegans tend to live longer than meat eaters.

Mass-produced meat – which is normally what we eat when we buy meat in a supermarket or restaurant – often involves in its production the use of medicines, such as antibiotics. Some of them make it into humans with the meat they eat or the milk they drink.

Studies show that humans have no real need to eat meat, as they can get all the amino acids their bodies require from plant proteins.

It pays off to get in contact with a local animal rights group. Depending on the country, different issues might be crucial when talking about animal rights. In general, the Western world is very reliant on mass production of meat, eggs and milk, which cause a lot of pain and agony to the production animals. In a few European countries also fur farming is still allowed, and animal rights groups campaign to end the practice of growing minks and foxes in small cages for their fur.

In addition, the use of animals in testing (e.g. cosmetics) is highly disputed and ruled illegal in many countries.

Animal rights groups are often the ones who know best which are the most pressing issues, and arrange campaigns to draw decision-makers’ attention to them. Why not help them give out leaflets or distribute a petition online? You might also learn something about political lobbying as well.

Talk with friends and family about animal rights. Karry Hedberg suggests to engage with people in conversations about animal rights and see how they justify the use of animal products. “It’s part of our culture and society that we use animal products. Guilting people into it is not good, but just talking with them and keeping the subject on the table is already a start”, Hedberg says.

It’s never been as easy as it’s today to become vegan. With vegan stores like Finnish Vegekauppa and many others emerging in cities across the world, getting your hands on vegan products is much easier than it was a decade ago. New, tasty products make it less difficult to at least give a more animal-friendly lifestyle a try!

Want to know more? Check out these links for further reading:

Avoiding meat and dairy is ‘single biggest way’ to reduce your impact on Earth

The Vegan Society: why go vegan

I love vegan: Transitioning to a vegan lifestyle

The Guardian: 1o ways vegetarianism can help save the planet

Global Citizen: 9 ways veganism is helping the planet

Blog: Vegan strategist

New Vegan Shopping List for 2018

Recommended books:

Tobias Leenaert: How to Creat a Vegan World 

Peter Singer: Animal Liberation

Jonathan Safran Foer: Eating Animals


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