Eating vegan and raw in Italy turned out to be easy. Before we left for our trip I was feeling guided to go fully raw. I had been vegan for over 12 years and my family for over eight years. I decided to do a high raw diet while in Italy because I wanted to try a slice of pizza, pasta or gelato if I felt like it.
Every restaurant we went to knew what vegan was. As soon as we mentioned it, they would say “no milk, no egg, no cheese, no meat etc.”
I ate mostly raw vegan in Italy but did have a slice of pizza, a few bites of pasta, a slice of the best vegan chocolate cake ever and a taste of chocolate gelato that my husband and daughter loved and had several times while we were in Florence.
Here are some tips that helped us eat vegan on our travels in Italy:
- Do some research before you go. You can do a google search for vegan food in the city you’re going to and find blogs with suggestions and tips. That was very helpful for me. I did some research before our trip and had a list of a few restaurants we wanted to check out.
- Check out local farmers markets. We bought wonderful fresh and organic produce at the farmers markets in Italy. At our Airbnb in Rome there was a farmer’s market five minutes from us. I went there daily and bought fresh fruit and veggies. Our Airbnb host is also a chef so we had a meal in his home restaurant that was delicious. I’ll share more about that in another blog.
- Get the “Happy Cow” app for your phone. It’s a great resource and really helps a lot when traveling. We use it whenever we’re traveling either out of the country or even to another city or state here in the U.S. We found an amazing vegan bakery in Florence that was one of the highlights of our trip. Their chocolate cake was incredible, which I may have mentioned already. It’s worth mentioning twice. I even found a couple of raw vegan restaurants in Italy through the app. You can check out Happy Cow on their website at: https://www.happycow.net/
- Shop at local grocery stores or markets. Every grocery store we went to in Italy had lots of fresh organic produce. They also had a good selection of vegan products such as plant based meat substitutes, cheese, pasta, sauces and more.
- At restaurants you can ask to see the menu before sitting down and then tell your server that you're vegan. As I mentioned above every restaurant we went to in Italy our server knew what vegan was and they were more than happy to help us. They even had vegan options on some of the menus. They had vegan pizza, pasta and of course salads and more.
- If you’re staying at a hotel you can ask the concierge if they have any recommendations for good places to eat that have vegan options. They usually have a good knowledge of restaurants in the area.
- Ask around. When you meet people who live there, ask them. We asked our Airbnb host in Rome and he gave us some recommendations for places to get authentic Italian food that offered vegan options.
- Learn the language or at least some important words and phrases such as: cheese, no animal products, vegan, meat, etc. They'll appreciate that you’re trying to speak the language and it’s fun. It’s helpful to know some key words and phrases so you can read the menu and communicate your needs to the server. Though we found most of them spoke english we enjoyed practicing our italian. I studied Italian for a bit before we went and it was helpful. Thank goodness, we had our daughter Destiny with us because she was much more fluent and able to speak and understand beyond what I could.
Here are a few key words you might find helpful:
- meat - carne (Kar neh)
- cheese - formaggio (for mah joh)
- fish - pesce
- shellfish - mollusko (mo lew sko)
- eggs - uova (woh vah)
- I'm vegan - sono vegan (vay gin) - prounounced with a hard g not j sound
I'd love to hear any tips you have for traveling as a vegan in Italy. Please share in the comments below.