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Vegan in Italy?

For heart health reasons my wife and I have chosen a plant based eating life style. After eleven years, my heart health has significantly improved. As we plan our first visit to Italy next fall, I am wondering how difficult it will be to find plant based/vegan options in Italy. I have read about finding fresh produce in local markets, but we would also like to enjoy dining in restaurants. Does anyone have any knowledge of or comments on vegan options in Rome, Florence, Venice and the surrounding areas?

Posted by
52 posts

We have had good results using TripAdvisor
Use the filters on the left hand side for Restaurants, vegan/vegetarian

here's example for Florence

Also search for Chinese, Thai, Vietnamese, Indian- their cuisine lends itself to vegetarian/Vegan.

My wife and I eat Vegetarian- but we eat dairy, eggs, and cheese. We also search out Gluten free options. also can be done on the website. Click on Bakeries for bringing your own.

Be safe!

Posted by
14552 posts

Some previous forum threads on the subject that might be helpful? While the topic is eating vegan on Rick's tours, they might have some good info for indy travelers too, or at least offer reassurance that it's entirely possible to eat well in The Boot! :O)

Pam, a frequent RS poster and trusted advisor for all things vegan (Hi Pam!) should be along shortly with firsthand advice.

Posted by
11543 posts

I'm here! I'm here!! Hi Kathy, lol.

Yes, I'm vegan and just did 3 weeks in Italy in Sept/October. It's really pretty easy to be vegan in Italy. In general fresh pasta (pasta fresca) has egg, regular pasta does not. Almost every restaurant has side dishes of grilled veggies although this last time it was fairly repetitive with a lot of eggplant and zucchini.

In Florence try the soup called Ribollita which is delicious and generally vegan although you will want to ask (particularly it might be made with chicken stock). It's got beans in it which sometimes seem to be in short supply in restaurant dishes, lol.

Even if not listed on the menu, you can usually ask for Insalata Mista (mixed salad) and they will do one for you. This last trip I mostly found that many of the restaurant salads listed had animal products but the request for mixed salad worked out well and they did not seem to be offended. Usually I said something like Insalata mista possible? It is WAY easier to ask for a mixed salad than to try and get them to leave stuff off as you would in the US.

I take a translation card along with me because my Italian is non-existent. I tape the translation from this V-card site to a 3x5 card to be able to hand to a server.

VCard does have an app but several times I've had waiters take the card back to the kitchen to discuss with the chef and I don't want my phone to leave with a waiter. I'm sure it would be OK but .... just decided to go old school with that.

Pizza is easy, just learn "Senza formaggio". Sometimes a server will come back to make sure you want no cheese at all.

A friend here locally from our RS Meet up group was in Venice in August and told me I had to go to a gelato place called Suso. Oh my word....the vegan chocolate gelato was unbelievable. SO good! They had other flavors listed as vegan as well but I went for the chocolate. It tasted like liquid fudge and my mouth is watering just thinking about it. I used the City Mapper app and was able to navigate directly there! I'm also embarrassed to say that for dinner I ate at Hard Rock Cafe. OK...It was really near the hotel, I was pooped and I was in the mood for a veggie burger. I did not ask if it was vegan....but I did not get a stomach ache afterward so no cheese/dairy that I was aware of.

And....Aperol Spritz's are vegan, hahahaha!!!

Have a wonderful time and I am happy to answer any questions.

Posted by
6287 posts

We were in Italy for 6 weeks this fall, Rome and much of Tuscany, September/October. While I wasn’t specifically looking for Vegan or Vegetarian, it sure seemed like pretty much every menu at the trattorias, ristorantes, and osterias we went to was marked with symbols or codes to identify dishes that qualified. But then, some of those indications were for particular food allergies, and not just for Vegan notifications. Again, I didn’t take careful notes, but Vegan options seemed to be everywhere.

For a week and a half of that time, my husband was on a very challenging bike tour, and one of the guides was Vegan - or vegetarian, he’s now not sure which. She was able to eat well the whole time though, at the same places as the rest of the group, fueling up for daily hard rides.

Also, pretty much every place we went had contorni - vegetable side dishes - on the menu, offered separate from the main courses. These were often not adventurous, just plain steamed broccoli, carrots, potatoes, etc., and served on their own plate. In the early fall, artichokes and eggplants were predominant on menus. Lots of squash, too. Butternut in Italian is “butternut,” I discovered, and there was a variety of “pumpkin.” Kale and spinach are popular, too.

At the Testaccio covered market in southern Rome, one of the food stalls was strictly Vegan. Also, unique to Rome, there’s puntarelle, a shaved chicory that’s only available in the fall, and adored by Romans as an appetizer salad. It usually has an anchovy-based dressing, so I don’t know whether there’s a Vegan version, but look into it if you’d enjoy a slightly bitter specialty in Rome, that could maybe be prepared to suit you. Buon apetito!

Posted by
202 posts

First, let us both congratulate you on making this change! Isn't feeling better wonderful?!

I'd like to present an option not yet discussed. Denis and I always get a place with a kitchen. We have never liked going out for all of our meals. The thought of going out at breakfast, well that just makes us shudder.

We are avid farmers shoppers, and that definitely includes European travels. We very much enjoyed those at which we shopped in Italy. It was September when we were there, and the late summer early autumn bounty was wonderful. The memories are making me smile. In Rome there were vendors who sold mixes, like for salad, and for minestrone. Imagine, all the prep done, and all we had to do was get a can of tomatoes, beans, and some pasta, no chopped was needed! Almost instant soup. So, for what that's worth.......

Definitely on the use of Happy Cow. We'd chose a few options near a given day's sightseeing so we had choices. After messing up a few times, we learned to check for current reviews, maybe cross-check with Trip Advisor.

Dessert isn't regularly on our menu at all, but in Italy, sigh, ah, the gelaterias. The sorbetto flavors were wonderful, non-dairy chocolate flavors were pleasant surprises.

In Venice, do give this one a try:

Have a nice trip.

Posted by
80 posts

Eating vegan in Italy would be easy. Simply omitting the cheese from most simple pasta dishes would change many of the vegetarian dishes into vegan ones.