Vegetarian food in Italy

Old Mar 21st, 2013, 02:27 AM
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Vegetarian food in Italy

Hi everyone..We will be visiting the following places in June:

1. Sorrento
2. AC, Positano & Ravello
3. capri
4. Rome
5. Siena with visit to sorrounding towns
6. Florence with visit to Pisa
7. Bellagio
8. Venice

Could you suggest restaurants serving vegetarian food (no meat, no fish)Any food options which will be good for us to try considering the restriction.

Thanks...Looking forward to another helpful discussion

Bhavana is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2013, 02:56 AM
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Most if not all restaurants in Italy will offer vegetarian options. From Pizzas to pastas to many other dishes. You
won't need veggie only restaurants.

The only time you'll struggle is if you become Vegan!
Rubicund is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2013, 10:38 AM
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My husband and I are vegans and was wondering about options in Italy..... We may have to adjust as we go....
charli47 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2013, 12:11 PM
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Plenty of vegetarian options. Cacio e pepe in Rome, risotto or polenta in the north, I had a delicious walnut ravioli in Varenna... vegetables and cheeses everywhere.

charli, vegans will definitely have a tougher time. Fresh pasta likely has eggs, for example. I think there have been some threads here fairly recently that you might want to look for.
jent103 is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2013, 12:48 PM
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I'd very strongly argue you're asking the wrong question, unless you're just another group of vegetarian food haters more interested in avoiding sin than eating good food.

Practically every restaurant in Italy offers an extraordinary range of outstanding food that meets vegetarian requirements: till very recently few Italians could afford to waste milk or wool producers on absurdly self-indulgent human feasts.

If we gave you a list of "veggie" places, you'd merely find the disgusting muck anglo-saxon faddists eat - mostly involving tofu.

The problem for vegetarians in Italy is that vegetable-intensive food isn't a big deal in Italy. Most food Italians eat at home is vegetarian - so going out tends to involve more meat, and no-one worries too much, and there's rarely a vegetarian section on menus, because practically no-one cares. Minestrone, for example, is usually almost entirely vegetable or cheese: but it's practically always made with meat stock, or is started by melting a bit of bacon. Ditto many risotti.

Waiters will often tell you it's vegetarian, because it's full of veggies and they've probably forgotten its's based on chicken stock. Also, Italians hate disappointing people.

Now it's perfectly OK in Italy to start with soup (usually almost entirely vegetarian) and/or pasta (often not), then just have a contorno (the separate veg course) or two or three.

In my view, eschewing proper Italian food (one of humanity's greatest achievements) to eat anglo-saxon muck in some hippy dive is simply an act of vandalism. So your real choice is between:
- buying a decent Italian cookery book and learning that, say carciofi alla romana ticks every veggie box while ribollita toscana's got enough scraps of pork to worry veggie purists, or
- just going with the flow, eating anything other than fish and meat mains and going to confession afterwards to get absolution for a sin of omission. This of course is the Italian approach.

If you really want to avoid the possibility of meat contamination, learning about Italian food and avoiding the wrong dishes is a far more satisfying strategy than seeking out faddish ghettoes.
flanneruk is offline  
Old Mar 21st, 2013, 01:04 PM
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Very good advice from flanneruk.

It is like the American south. You can order a vegetable plate and everyone forgets to tell you that most of the vegetables have been cooked with pork

I think his idea of getting a cookbook and learning what goes into recipes is a really good idea.
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Old Mar 21st, 2013, 10:23 PM
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I am not sure what you meant flanneruk by the opening comments.

What I was merely interested in knowing that are there any tried and tested restaurants serving vegetarian food as this forum is all about helping people plan their travel. As you correctly pointed out that most restaurants use chicken stock for pastas and rissotos which is not an option for us.I like your suggestion of going through the recipes and will be doing that.

Was also hopeful of getting some restaurant suggestions.
Bhavana is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2013, 12:00 AM
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Hi Bhavana,
This article might be of interest to you

I am vegetarian too and when travelling in Europe don't order soups as many soups are made with meat based stock.

But pizza margherita is generally a good option. When all else fails, have gelato
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Old Mar 22nd, 2013, 12:40 AM
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La Zucca in Venice serves delicious and imaginative vegetable dishes. My husband and I love going there and we are not vegetarian.

But, as above, when you are in Italy you will be able to see and choose plenty of non-meat things to eat. It's probably the easiest European country for vegetarians.
tarquin is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2013, 03:34 AM
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I don't understand the advice about buying a cookbook (but maybe I'm missing something). So you think that because a particular cookbook lists certain ingredients for a dish, then the restaurant you walk into will use the same ingredients, and not add or change anything, such as the type of stock? Really?

I took your question to be: Does anyone know of any vegetarian restaurants in the locales mentioned? Some people seem to think the answer is to go into any restaurant and order a "non-meat" dish. OK, except, as discussed, you won't know that there's no meat used in the making.

It seems to me the real answer to the question is probably: no.
downtownbrown is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2013, 04:00 AM
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As someone who travels to Italy frequently, and a former vegetarian, and mother of two current vegetarians, I can tell you that if you just want to avoid eating meat/fish then no problem what so ever. Won't even need to try. Every restaurant will have pasta and veggie dishes you can order, and lots to choose from.

If you insist on no meat products at all (chicken stock, etc. as mentioned above) then you are in big trouble. I totally agree with what brown just said above - you really think every chef in Italy uses the same cookbook to make soup, risotto, etc. Even many pasta sauces may use a meat base (bacon to saute the veggies sometimes, etc) and that will not be listed on any list of ingredients (and most menus don't list ingredients, and most waiters don't know). Eggs are used to make a lot of types of pasta, and in many sauces.

When my vegetarian daughter (who has lived in Europe twice) and vegan sister and brother in law travel they relax their diet restrictions, feeling the positives you get from travel far outweigh having a small amount of animal product enter your diet. Unless you have severe allergies to any specific food you will probably have a better time if you just avoid ordering meat dishes.
isabel is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2013, 06:18 AM
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I can't help you with personal recommendations - but this site may help you find a few restaurants:
G_Hopper is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2013, 06:47 AM
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Obviously consulting just one Italian cookbook is not going to result in an exhaustive review of recipes, but as a vegetarian/pescatarian, I find it extremely useful to know what dishes to seek out.
flanneruk may have been a little blunt in how he expressed it, but I think he made the excellent point that you do not necessarily have to exclusively eat at vegetarian restaurants, especially considering you probably will not find one in all of the towns you named.
If you avoid all meat products as a religious principle, then you will need to do more research into Italian cuisine, and rent apartments.
It is not impossible, and knowing about the cuisine will certainly add to the enjoyment of your trip and make ordering easier. good luck!
yorkshire is offline  
Old Mar 22nd, 2013, 06:50 AM
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although you can't ever be entirely "safe", plain pasta dishes made with tomato based sauces [penne alla arrabiata, or putanesca for example] are unlikely to have any meat products in them, ditto side dishes or "contorni" such as spinach, artichokes, or aubergine, and salads should also be OK. and waiters will know, or can find out, whether a pasta dish has been made with eggs [uova]. in fact, there are few things that italians like more than talking about food - except perhaps eating it!

what flanner was meaning to say, in his inimitable way, I think, is that the sorts of restaurants that call themselves "vegetarian" will be few and far between and probably won't be very good.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 02:29 AM
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i have heard that in italy people usually eat spicy food is it true.
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Old Apr 23rd, 2013, 09:47 AM
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hassel - IME there is not a great deal of spicy food in Italy - stews for example tend to be savoury not spiced - but the occasional pasta dish like puntanesca may be spicy or hot with chilli.
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