I’ve had quite a few people ask me this question: is it difficult being vegan in Italy? The answer is simple: no.
Being vegan is honestly as easy or as hard as you make it. For me, eating plant based foods is second nature, so wherever I go, whatever I do, I seek and eat plants. And for the most part, everywhere has some sort of plant based foods.
I’m currently living in Europe for three months working as an Au Pair (a nanny) for an Italian family. Since I live with them, they buy my food and make my meals, for the most part. (I make my own breakfast, and usually lunch I do with the children, then the mum makes us all dinner)
We were sitting down eating lunch today, and the mum said to her husband’s parents that she thought it would be much more difficult having a vegan live with them, but it’s not. It’s super easy. She explained how I mainly just eat pasta, rice, potatoes, etc. She buys me fruit every week (bananas, melon, etc), and they also buy me a huge bag of granola and hazelnut milk every week. So that’s pretty much what I eat here. And also bread. Lots of bread.
As far as traveling goes, it’s been quite easy/second nature for me. A BIG part about being vegan is planning ahead, packing snacks, and just being prepared. You can’t go on a day trip and pack nothing. Even non-vegans shouldn’t do this. Since I was young my mother always packed snacks and water for day trips, so it’s basically instilled in me to do so. I’m always like the mum of the group because I literally carry everything in my backpack: snacks, bandaids, hand sanitizer, tampons, hand wipes, earphones, tissues, pens, hair elastics, chapstick, water, etc.
The first weekend I was here, I hiked through Cinque Terre (which took us 7 hours to go through the towns). I brought with me: 3 peaches, 5 rice cakes, half a bag of snap peas, and a lara bar. When we stopped in the first town, I had two peaches, and then fortunately for me, there was a shop that had fresh focaccia (a delicious type of bread here), for 1 euro each. So I got two pieces.
Also during this day-trip I bought gelato, and also we went to a restaurant for dinner and I got pasta. For my snack before this I had my rice cakes and snap peas, and that was about it! You see, it’s not that difficult being vegan because you can either just get pasta, or rice/vegetables of some sort. Or if you’re lucky, you can ask your server at the restaurant if they can make you a pizza with no cheese, extra vegetables.
Is pasta egg free?
YES. So far all of the pasta’s I’ve had have been egg free. Same with the bread. The only thing they really put on bread and everything is olive oil.
What if the pizza crust has egg or milk?
JUST ASK! 🙂 If it does, get pasta or something else. If it doesn’t (which usually it doesn’t), then get pizza!!
How do you find vegan restaurants while traveling!??
Literally just search anywhere in the world and if there are vegan restaurants or restaurants with vegan OPTIONS, it will tell you!! So awesome. I also contacted people who live in said cities I was going (through instagram) and asked for recommendations. xx
How do you get vegan gelato?
I’ve found that the majority of places in Italy have vegan options. When you go in, just ask “do you have dairy free?” or “vegano?” and they’ll understand. Every single place usually has at least a few vegan options, which are usually the fruit ones and dark chocolate.
NOTE: Everything costs money, from using the washroom (either having to purchase something, or literally paying 50 cents in a machine), to water. Luckily in most cities there are water fountains outside somewhere, you just need to find them. The water is very clean in Italy and you can drink it from the tap, so I’d sometimes fill up in washrooms where I was able, just to get some cold water. (Desperate times call or desperate measures, folks, and I don’t spend money if I don’t have to. I haven’t bought water once since being here. I always manage to somehow get it. And trust me, I drink TONS of water… like 5 litres a day haha)
The next place I traveled to was ROME! Rome had so many vegan restaurants it was hard for me to narrow down which ones to visit. I will list a few below:
Universo Vegano (vegan fast food)
Op’s (vegan buffet)
CamBio Vita (gelato, crepes, vegan cookies)
Ginger (acai bowls)
I stayed in an airbnb. The lady was a college student and didn’t have much food at her place. When I first arrived, she asked if I was hungry. (It was like 10pm and I had been traveling all day, so YES) I told her I was vegan, and she said, “that’s fine, my friend here is vegetarian!” She gave me a big salad she had just made for dinner with all the fixings, and then some crackers and bread. Because I’m smart and pack snacks, I had with me: 1 cantaloupe for breakfast the next morning, as well as 1 cut up pineapple for the train ride, and also strawberries and cherries. I also brought in my suitcase dates, saltine crackers, rice cakes, and bread. You want snacks that will fill you if you’re traveling and hungry. Bless bread because it’s pretty filling.
On the Saturday, a few girls I met through Instagram and I went to Op’s vegan buffet for lunch.
We got gelato during the day (literally so many dairy-free options for gelato in Rome), and then by the time I got home, it was after 8pm.
I asked the girl I was staying with if there was somewhere nearby I could grab dinner that was a) close b) vegan c) cheap. Luckily for me, she directed me to a little pizza joint up the street that is well-known for being affordable. I went there, simply asked for no cheese and extra vegetables instead, and voila. It was 6 euros and it was awesome.
During my solo travels on Sunday, I went to CamBio Vita and got gelato and a vegan cookie. It was very delicious. They also do crepes there.
I spent a whole day in Monte Carlo, Monaco as I was traveling to Nice for the weekend to visit my vegan friend VICTORIA who I met through Instagram over a year ago. As usual, I looked up ahead of time any vegan restaurants in Monaco, and also Victoria mentioned this one vegan restaurant that just opened in Monte Carlo, so I decided to go!
It was a bit pricey, but it’s Monaco – the land of the rich and famous. It’s whatever.
Well since I stayed with my friend, who is also vegan, it was easy to have breakfast and or dinner with her. But there were a couple vegan restaurants (or restaurants with vegan options) in the city that I found through Happy Cow. There was this one called Vegan Gorilla that we were planning on going to Saturday night, but we didn’t get around to it. Instead, we got sushi.
Again, I packed lots of snacks during the day. Although I didn’t eat enough on Saturday during the day, and on Sunday I felt very weak and lightheaded. This shows how vital it is to ensure you’re eating enough and giving your body that energy and nutrients it needs! FOOD IS FUEL!
On Sunday we went and got Socca, which is famous in Nice. It’s just chickpea flour, water, and olive oil. And it was amazing. Also many dairy-free options for Gelato. But it was fairly pricey, I found, compared to Italy.
Okay, now this is where it gets kind of interesting.
I never say that it’s hard being vegan (because its not, its like first nature to me to avoid foods with animal products) but in Venice, there were hardly any vegan options!! It wasn’t a problem for me because I packed lots of snacks and stuff that’s good for travel (apples, granola, saltine crackers, rice crackers, banana, dried mango, bread, etc) However when I had to find dinner on the Saturday night, it was kind of a hassle to find CHEAP vegan food. Because everything is soo expensive in Venice (vegan or not), because it’s super busy and packed with tourists. They charge you for everything, from using the bathroom, to even sitting in the restaurant. Also I should note that in Canada, it’s illegal to deny someone water. You can go into any ANY store or shop and ask for water (tap water) and they have to give it to you. But in Italy, even tap water costs money. So I always filled up at water fountains outside or in bathrooms. (The water is very clean to drink)
ANYWAYS, my point is, Venice is very expensive. The cheapest place I found was a lil shop that had cheap Italian food. I got pasta with vegetables for 7.50€ and took it to go because it was cheaper than staying at the restaurant. The portion was fairly small but managed to fill me, then i just had little snack after.
The next day for lunch we found a restaurant and the menu literally had just plain pizza with tomato sauce (no cheese) (cheese is more expensive HA!) so it was already vegan. It was 7.50€, pretty thin crust, but i folded it in half like a lil panini and it was good. Also noting that this menu offered cheap sides such as potatoes, rice, vegetables, and salads. So worst comes to worst, just get a few sides and make it a meal.
Other than those two meals, I didn’t buy anything. I just ate the food that I packed with me. The hostel we stayed in had a lil breakfast for guests the next morning, and when I asked the man if there was fruit, he said no….
Luckily there was bread and jam, so I made sure they were both vegan and had like 6 pieces for breakfast. It was fine with me because any food is good food when you’re hungry. I’m just not used to eating a diet that consists of hardly any raw meals. Back at home I eat fruit for breakfast every single day, have fruit for lunch, then vegetables throughout the day as well. But you know what? You can’t be picky when you’re traveling, so it’s something that you just need to get used to. I will binge on fruit and smoothies and nana ice cream once I’m home.
Last thing about Venice: there were hardly any vegan gelato options!! Every single city I’ve been to has had dairy-free gelato, but in Venice, every single place I asked said no.
I’m currently staying in a little village called Borzonasca, which is inside a large city called Genova. However, I don’t go into the city very often – only when catching the train. The closest little town to Borzonasca is Chiavari. This girl that I know told me that there is a vegan bakery somewhere in Chiavari, so I googled until I found it. It turned out to only be a 5 minute walk from the station. It’s called Sweet Dreams American Bakery. Yesterday was my birthday, so I started my day off there and literally had cake for breakfast hahaha. It was amazing.
After the bakery, I spent the day wandering and exploring the beautiful seaside of Santa Margherita and Portofino. After that, I headed into Genova to go to a vegan restaurant for dinner.
The restaurant was called La Cucina di Giuditta. It was VERY fancy and expensive, which I didn’t know until getting there. But since it was my birthday, I let it slide. (Normally I go places as cheap as possible haha).
It was actually an accidental find. Because originally I had plotted out my night and planned to go to this other vegan restaurant. But once I got there, it was closed!? (Even though the website said it would be open frmo 7:30-10). But anyway, I had to think quick and find somewhere soon because I was starving and it was nearing 7:00pm. I didn’t have much data on my phone, but it was a semi-emergency, so I did a quick Google search, found La Cucina di Giuditta, saw it was only an 11 minute walk from my current location, and I headed off there.
Unfortunately the menu was in Italian and I couldn’t understand a thing hahaha. I kindly asked the waiter for recommendations, to which I finally decided on this THING which I do not even know the name, but it was some sort of concoction of tofu, potatoes, and a bunch of other stuff?? It was 14 euros.. oh my.
So fancy though. Before they brought out my meal, they brought this cute little appetizer thing, as well as freaking SANGRIA. I was living it up for my bday.
Then for dessert I decided to treat myself (you only live once, right?) and got a chocolate cake for 8 euro. wowzers. It was so amazing though, with creme on top and cherries and shredded chocolate inside. MMMM.
I only have two more weeks here in Italy (wow the time just flew by), and then I’m headed to GREECE for 2.5 weeks. But before I leave Italy, I’m going to Milano next weekend, as well as Verona. Then the following weekend I will go to Camogli, Pisa, Florence, maybe? Who knows. Stay tuned.
If you have any questions at all regarding traveling europe or italy, or vegan tips while being here (that aren’t already covered in this lengthy post) feel free to comment below and I will try to respond as soon as I can.
To keep updated on my travels or see what I eat, I have a playlist of my travel diaries here: https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLrRQPQr7yPU0Tqh-Yua9KBKMZYcL65nB_
Lots of love,