No queue bhajis: Remember that meat-free diets are key to living a “kind-hearted lifestyle”, swear Danes waiting patiently in Østerbro

Long queues of diners at this year’s Indian Vegetarian/Vegan Food Festival

As a vegetarian in Denmark, and indeed Europe, you still feel you are faced with a relatively limited choice of food at times.

Fortunately, Indian cuisine never stops exploring on your behalf, and the Indian Vegetarian/Vegan Food Festival, just held at Østerbrohuset on Århusgade in the Copenhagen district of Østerbro, was a fantastic showcase for meat-free alternatives.

Live its previous five editions, it gave the many visitors a great opportunity to get in touch with the richness of Indian cuisine.

Within half an hour of opening, the queue was already stretching outside the venue. But judging by the smiles on the faces of those who tasted the delights, it was well worth coming.

India’s Ambassador to Denmark, Pooja Kapur, performed the lighting ceremony, a traditional opening for Indian events

Introducing Indian vegetarian cuisine
“We would like to introduce our friends in Denmark to our vegetarian culture,” Pooja Kapur, the Indian ambassador to Denmark, told the gathering at the opening ceremony.

“Firstly, vegetarian food is one of the most straightforward and environmentally friendly options. Secondly, food is something that can help bridge the gap between the Danish community and the Indian community.”

Undoubtedly, there was a huge variery of Indian vegetarian food at the event.

On top of the noodle-based and rice-based dishes divided between the North and South regions, the Indian vegetarian and vegan dishes on offer varied from spicy to mild.

Fried chicken? No, it’s Gobi manchurian made with potatoes

Spreading Indian culture
No matter how confused you were about the food, the stallholders would patiently answer your questions and warmly invite you to try it.

“We are trying to showcase our country and introduce our food to our Danish friends,” explained Hyma, who is from India and has lived in Denmark for six years.

As well as sharing Indian food, the event is also part of the ongoing celebrations of India’s Independence Day. This year marks the 75th year of India’s independence and Indians feel a greater sense of responsibility to spread their culture.

Unveiling the national flag to celebrate Indian Independence Day

Promoting vegetarianism and Indian culture
“The promotion of vegetarianism is part of Indian culture and it can be linked to the Indian non-violent movement that all beings are equal and have good intentions, which is good for physical and mental health,” said Dr Charlotte Bech, who also addressed the gathering.

“I’m enjoying the food here and, more than that, I’m embracing a healthier way of pursuing a kind-hearted lifestyle,” said Jette Nielsen (above), one of many Danes in attendance.

The Danish HSS, which organised the event, is a cultural association that has been in existence for about 25 years.

The main objective is to transmit culture and lifestyle so that everyone can contribute and become a part of Danish society, and the event is part of a series of activities to promote cultural exchange between India and Denmark.