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Vegan/Vegetarian Food in France and Italy

Hi,
Is it easy to find vegetarian/vegan food choices in Italy and France? I prefer to avoid eggs and cheese as a protein source, but could if needed.
Thank you!
Annie

Posted by
1934 posts

I don't eat meat, chicken, fish etc and I've never had any trouble getting myself fed. I do eat eggs and dairy so I have more options, but you should be fine.

Posted by
11450 posts

Paris has many places that can supply what you want , especialky if you like Morrocan style food. Couscous is popular

Posted by
11613 posts

You should have no problems in Italy.

Posted by
11261 posts

As always, vegan is harder than vegetarian, but others have posted that they managed with both of these.

Frequent poster Pam from Troy, Idaho, is vegan; if she doesn't jump into this thread, send her a private message (she has replies in the threads I linked below).

If you're shopping for food, note that a biomarché in France is an organic food store; they will surely understand your dietary needs. Of course, you can also go to regular supermarkets.

The Happy Cow website is a good place to look for information: http://www.happycow.net/browse.html

Here are some earlier threads that will be helpful to you:

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/vegetarian-restaurants-in-paris

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy/vegetarian-restaurants-rome-siena-florence

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/france/bayeux-restaurant-for-a-vegetarian

https://community.ricksteves.com/travel-forum/italy-reviews/vegetarian-food-no-seafood-options-in-venice

Posted by
8203 posts

Here I am! Yes, I am vegan and have traveled in Italy and France among other countries.

In general it is easier to get vegan food in Italy over France but doable both places.

In France, it is sometimes difficult to make yourself understood (even with translation cards) that butter is not vegan. Often veggies will come cooked in butter and it is not evident from the menu. Salads are easy and I can usually find a sandwich from the shops that sell to-go sandwiches that are vegan. Paris has terrific ethnic food and if you like falafel you will be in heaven. Idaho is sort of a falafel waste-land so I try to eat it every day when I am in Paris. You do need to be careful with soups as they will sometimes have cream or creme fraiche added.

In Italy, it helped to have a couple of fall-back dishes to order. Fresh pasta often is made with egg so is not vegan but if you aren't fussy about a little bit of egg you'll be fine. I usually would get Pasta all'arribiata which is a spicier sauce, or some kind of pasta with garlic and olive oil and order a side of veggies to put on it. In variably the side veggies were eggplant and zucchini so I was mightily sick of them when I finished my time in Italy. Pizza is easy to order senza formaggio - no cheese. The wait staff will sometimes repeat back with raised eyebrows, but it has always come out the way I wanted it to. Salads are of course easy and soups are often vegan.

I do recommend carrying translation cards with you. I use ones from this website. I have them clipped to my phrase books. Occasionally when I could not make myself understood to the waiter I've showed the card and a couple of times they have taken it back to the kitchen, then come back and pointed to things on the menu that would work. I always leave a nice tip...even though tipping is not customary...as a thank you for the extra work.

http://veg.ca/2013/01/17/vegetarian-travel-translation-cards/

You've posted under the Rick Steves' tour forum, not that it matters. However, I've done 7 RS tours and have rarely had problems with group meals. In almost every circumstance the chef was able to accommodate a vegan meal, both in Italy and France.

Let me know if you have specific questions.

Posted by
17 posts

Thank you, everyone!

This is good to know. Of course, when I travel I won't be as picky as I am at home (so a little cheese or eggs would be OK).

...and I love pizza with olive oil instead of cheese; tastes delicious!

Yes; I am considering a Rick Steves tour if it works out, either "My Way" or a guided tour. And this group seems so friendly; it would be my pleasure to meet you!

Thank you again and happy travels!
Annie

Posted by
8203 posts

I will just add that the RS guides I have had in Italy and France were wonderful about communicating with the group meal restaurants about a vegan meal.

There were a couple of times when restaurants went out of their way to fix what they perceived as vegan but missed slightly. I usually ate it (except the wild boar in the pasta sauce, lol) as I felt like it was better to be gracious. They were usually so pleased they had fixed something special and I couldn't hurt their feelings.

Posted by
1047 posts

On our RS Best of Italy tour, we had two people who were strict vegetarians and they had no problems on the tour.

Posted by
11450 posts

pam.. interesting about the soups.. but I would be suspicious.. My dd is vegetarian ( just turned about 6 months ago ) and most soups I make have a meat broth base.. ( even stuff like squash soup).. and she started asking and found out that's very common.. I personally think some chefs fib( saying.. no , there are no meat in this.. ,but not really getting it) .. I would only order soup in a restaurant that promoted being vegan ..

Posted by
8203 posts

I have wondered about that as well Pat. I did ask and was told veg broth based for vegetable, farro and ribollita (is that the correct number of b's and l's?) in the particular restaurants where I was eating. At this point even meat based broths give me some stomach upset so I can usually tell (later, lol) if there was a meat-based broth used. I had given the translation card to a waiter in Florence who took it back to the kitchen, then came out and said "You can only have this, this and this". I was OK with that and one of them was the ribollita...which was delicious.

Oh, I forgot, in Italy bruschetta is a good go-to as well.