Surviving Italy as a Vegetarian or Vegan

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Tips and Tricks for Surviving Italy as a Vegetarian or Vegan

Posted by Ruth Anne (30/01/2015)

Italy is well-known as a Mecca for food-tourists, however, for vegans, vegetarians, or those with any other kind of dietary restriction, finding the right things to eat in Italy can be tough, especially if you don’t speak the language. Italians have a reputation for being baffled by the concept of vegetarianism and veganism, and, although this is changing slowly, these tips and tricks should make things a little easier.

Useful Phrases
If you want to tell someone you’re a vegetarian, the phrase is “sono vegetariano” for a man or “sono vegetariana” for a woman. For vegans it’s “sono un vegano” for a man or “sono una vegana” for a woman. If you want to ask a waiter if their restaurant has a vegetarian option, say: “Avete un piatto vegetariano?” And finally, an important one when negotiating all those different types of Italian pasta: “Non mangio le uova” is how you say “I don’t eat eggs”.

Hidden Dangers
Guanciale is a common ingredient often used in tomato sauces for pasta. It might sound innocent enough, but it’s actually cured pig jowls (cheeks) so definitely one to keep an eye out for! Anchovies are another one you might find hidden in your sauces, so look out for “acciuga” or “alici” in the ingredients and steer clear. Finally, pancetta is often used to add flavour to various soups that you might otherwise assume were safe, so again, keep a careful eye on the ingredients and, if in doubt, ask.

Tips for Food Allergy Sufferers
If you’re lactose-intolerant, good news; carbonara sauce in Italy is usually made with a base of olive oil, rather than cream. Italy is also well-served with traditionally-made cheeses that are much lower in lactose than your supermarkets standards and the longer they’ve been aged, the lower in lactose they’ll be. And for those on a gluten-free diet, Italy might seem like a nightmare with all that pasta and bread, but potato gnocchi can save you from a non-stop diet of salad. Although some gnocci does contain flour, this is often not the case, so ask and you might just be in luck.

Safe Options
Bruschetta al pomodoro – this is bread rubbed with oil and garlic and topped with tomatoes; simple, delicious and unlikely to contain any secret meat or other animal products.

Pizza marinara – pizza with tomato sauce and no cheese. This might sound a little bland, but in Italy even such a humble pizza is a thing to behold. Of course, for vegetarians your pizza options are wide open.

Salad – Italy’s plethora of widely available fresh ingredients means salad doesn’t need to be the option of last resort. Great ingredients and fresh oil and vinegar-based dressings makes Italy a real haven for salad lovers.

If you’re looking for a base from which to conduct your Italian food journey, why not check out our Tuscany villas and see if we can serve you up the perfect holiday home away from home.

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