Back in Brazil, in my hometown, I had trouble finding good lactose-free and soya-, oat- or almond- based products. They were rather difficult to find, too expensive or didn't taste so good. It was easier to eat something else, basically.
The first time I went to do groceries here in Göteborg I was amazed. The amount of, not only lactose-free products, but alternative solutions for people that are lactose intolerants or that simply choose not to eat dairy products is incredible. The best thing is that even in small supermarkets you get plenty of options. You can find at least the 'basic' things in pretty much every chain supermarket - the picture I have on this post is from the closest supermarket to my place that is a 'neighbourhood' supermarket, quite small.
I have experienced that in Sweden creams are used a lot for cooking and that is one of my guesses for pushing the lactose-free market up here, I don't know actually. The thing is that butter, margarine, milk, sour cream, yoghurt, different creams for cooking...You can easily find pretty much all the equivalents to dairy products in lactose-free versions and I would say that it moves towards the same path regarding equivalents for dairy products for vegans. And they are very tasty in my opinion, there are companies really putting effort on developing those products.
But fine, there are a lot of tasty products but what about the price? The prices are, in general, a bit higher than the 'original' version of the product but nothing that makes me think twice when I'm buying them. Of course that there are some 'special' things that turn out to be a bit expensive but that is the same with some dairy products. In general, everything that you would need in your daily life won't make you think twice about the price.
Another cool thing is that many times when you look for recipes on Swedish websites, you can find right away the lactose-free version of the recipe. It is all in Swedish of course, but it is a great way to also learn more of the language!
And of course that 'fika' time could not be excluded. It has never happened to me so far to go to a café that did not have a lactose-free drink to mix with coffee, even in small towns that I have been to. The vegan alternatives are gradually becoming more common as I have noticed. At Chalmers, for example, at the Student Union restaurant you can find both options, besides regular milk of course. There are some cafés at Chalmers that have also started with having both options as well!
So, welcome to lactose-free paradise!
Text: Carolina Braga