hygge

Hygge for vegans

What is hygge and why should we practice it? By Amy Rohu

Hygge, pronounced ‘hue-guh’, is best described as a way to enjoy the slower things in life. The concept, which has been widely talked about in recent years, is a popular way to live in Denmark and encompasses a variety of different elements.

Before we delve into how we can practice it in our own lives, let’s take a moment to understand what it’s all about.

Where did hygge come from?

Hygge first appeared in written Danish in the early 1800s but the word is Norwegian in origin and translates to ‘well-being’. According to Meik Wiking, the CEO of the Happiness Research Institute in Copenhagen, hygge is such an important part of being Danish that it is considered a ‘defining feature of our cultural identity and an integral part of the national DNA’.

Meik Wiking describes it well in his book The Little Book of Hygge, by defining it as an atmosphere, rather than about things. Wiking goes on to say it’s a feeling of being safe, being comfortable and enjoying a simpler existence with others and yourself.

The people of Denmark are known to be some of the happiest in the world, despite their long dark winters and this is why their unique way of living has captured the attention of the rest of the world in recent years.

Hygge can be practised alone, by cosying up under a blanket with a good book, or by gathering with friends and enjoying some quality time with conversations and warm drinks. It can be incorporated into your wardrobe with fluffy scarves and chunky cardigans. It can also be used to describe your home space, with the clever use of lighting and candles to promote a feeling of relaxation and calm.

The word hygge is used as both a noun and an adjective in Denmark, being used to describe everything from snug settings in the home and even clothing. This Danish way of life has translated into a lifestyle movement for the rest of us, but is it even possible to truly experience hygge outside of its place of origin?

According to Wiking, yes, it is. Discussing this idea in his book, Wiking states: “Danes are not the only ones who can enjoy the atmosphere, comfort and pleasure that comes from being in good company, in front of the fire, with some mulled wine. While the English translation of hygge into cosiness may be problematic as it loses a lot of important associations, we can find a variety of concepts more similar to hygge around the world.”

 

“It’s a feeling of being safe, being comfortable and enjoying a simpler existence with others and yourself”

Wiking goes on to describe other lifestyles that promote a feeling of wellbeing such as hominess in Canada and koselig in Norway, and declares for this reason, that hygge isn’t just for the Danes. These concepts exist in other cultures but it’s the Danes who’ve got it down to a fine art.

So, now we know what hygge is, how can we start practicing it and is it even vegan-friendly? Of course, the feeling and idea behind hygge is vegan-friendly, however, traditionally a lot of the physical elements are not. Lucky for us, everything can be veganised these days, so read on for some of the key concepts to bring more hygge into your life, while still respecting your vegan life, too.

How do we practice hygge?

The first thing you’ll need to do and, arguably one of the simplest ways to become more hygge, is to light some candles. Candles provide an instant, calming feel to a room and can create a cosy atmosphere in seconds.

Traditional hygge candles are usually unscented, with several being burnt at once in a room to create a lavish atmosphere, however, indulging in your favourite seasonal scent like pumpkin spice or winter berries can bring joy to your space and help you wind down too.

Try adding one scented candle to create the desired scent and then adding a few more unscented to create a comfy atmosphere. Using natural soya wax candles is not only vegan-friendly, but also a nod to the traditional hygge practice which focuses on naturally derived elements over artificial ones.

Lighting in general is a vital aspect to Danish living and strategically placed lamps in soft colours create a dimly lit nest, perfect for getting comfortable in. So, get rid of the harsh, bright lightbulbs and replace garish lampshades with cream toned, modest ones instead.

While hygge can be practised outdoors, it is really felt in the home. For this reason. it’s important to add a few snug additions to your space. First, have a quick declutter and donate items that you no longer use, then get your hygge on. Soft, fluffy blankets, throws, cushions, pillows and rugs are all essential elements for the perfect snuggly home.

Traditionally, Danes would incorporate animal skins and furs into their spaces but for us vegans, we can opt for faux fur just as easily. Try stores like NEXT and IKEA for plenty of faux fur additions to your home. You can indulge in any fabric if you don’t like faux fur, as long as it’s soft and comfortable. Think of heavy fleece or thick knits but make sure to check the tag to ensure it’s free from any animal derived fibres.

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Clothing is an aspect of hygge too and perfecting your winter style is a lot easier than you might think. Hygge style is all about being ‘top heavy’ and always, always wearing a scarf. Simple leggings and skinny jeans on your bottom half, with layers of cosiness on your top half and you’re done.

Think of soft layers, organic cotton, chunky knits and an enveloping jacket, topped off with the biggest, softest scarf you can find. This outfit will keep you warm on chilly afternoon walks and while you sit outside enjoying a pumpkin spice latte, but the clever layering ensures you can take off a piece or two when you head indoors and get too warm.

There are so many brilliant vegan providers of knitted clothing, check out Will’s Vegan Store (wills-vegan-store.com) for some perfect chunky knits and cuddly sweaters that will last you for this season and beyond.

No lifestyle would be complete without good food and drinks, the kind that takes a little bit of time to make but is perfect to share with loved ones, or to indulge in by yourself with a glass of mulled wine. Home baked goods and big pots of stews, soups and chillies are all perfect examples of hygge meals.

Magazines, (like the one in your hand or screen right now!) and cookbooks are your best friend when it comes to creating new, exciting, nourishing vegan meals. The main takeaway from all of this, is a gentle reminder that we all live fast-paced lives. We’re stuck in the virtual world too much and our mental health has taken a battering over the last year in particular.

This autumn and winter, maybe it’s time to explore the concept of hygge a bit more, if for nothing else other than a few minutes of peace each day. So, cosy up with a good book, a hot coffee and leave the phone on silent for a few hours, it might just change your life.

Words by Amy Rohu, IG @vegan_with_amy

VeganLife

The lifestyle magazine written by vegans for vegans.