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Thursday’s papers: Meat-free madness, Haavisto in pole position and Räikkönen’s birthday wishes

The Finnish press on Thursday covers the national uproar over a menu change at a Helsinki cafe, along with good news for the Greens.

Kimi Räikkönen
Kimi Räikkönen turns 40. Image: Emmanuele Ciancaglini/NurPhoto via Getty Images

A student restaurant's decision to stop serving beef to help reduce greenhouse gas emissions caused absolute uproar among sections of the Finnish political class this week, and the follow-up stories have been plentiful.

Centre Party MP Anne Kalmari announced the decision was a travesty perpetrated by the 'veggie mafia', and even falsely claimed that university restaurant Unicafe would 'probably' replace domestic beef with imported food and possibly increase emissions.

Unicafe had clearly stated that they would replace beef with chicken and pork, and they only serve Finnish chicken and pork.

HS reports that Kalmari's comrade in the agrarian Centre Party, Agriculture Minister Jari Leppä, also chimed in to say he didn't think the decision was sensible. Antti Kurvinen, who chairs the Centre's parliamentary group, said the menu adjustment was part of a 'culture war', and questioned students' automatic enrolment in the student union that owns Unicafe.

Iltalehti, meanwhile, looks outside the metropolitan centre of climate-conscious youth to ask if other student restaurants are going to follow suit.

Perhaps not surprisingly they mostly answered that no, they did not want to immediately make a menu change they could expect to be criticised by some of the country's most senior politicians.

Even so, in Jyväskylä and Oulu they said the proportion of vegetarian meals they sell is rising and they try to source their ingredients responsibly.

Haavisto in the lead

Alma Media outlets all carry a poll on the 2024 (!) presidential election. The race to succeed Sauli Niinistö is some way from getting started, but even so, the Green Party's Pekka Haavisto is in the lead.

He commands the support of some 33 percent of all voters at the moment, a lead of some 22 percentage points on the next candidate, Olli Rehn of the Centre Party.

Iltalehti is keen to stress that his lead is even bigger among young people: he commands some 45 percent of the vote among 18-29-year-olds.

That is well clear of Jussi Halla-aho of the Finns Party in second place, who polled 18 percent among that group.

With the election not due for another five years, this demographic could provide a clue to the likely direction of the race as older voters pass away and younger ones join the electorate.

Happy Birthday Kimi!

The tabloids go to town on Thursday wishing many happy returns to Kimi Räikkönen, the Finnish Formula 1 legend.

Iltalehti has a story asking if the 40-year-old will be the last veteran driver in formula one, given changes in the sport over the years that have made it much more demanding.

Ilta-Sanomat, meanwhile, digs into the family photo album for a succession of shots of little Kimi before he became World Champion.

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