Benvenuto a Italia: Vegan feasting in Tuscany

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A cheeseless pizza

IT’S a country renowned for its bolognese, parma hams and tiramisu.

But vegans can also easily come back twice their weight,  if my trip to Tuscany was anything to go by.

Pastas, risottos, vegan cheeses and ice creams were easy to find-so much so it was a good job I travelled through the hills by bicycle.

Top tips for staying vegan in Tuscany

-Ask for a pizza ‘senza formaggio’. We inadvertently found this was a way to tell if the pizzas were fresh. Yep, head to some tourist traps and ”chefs” actually buy their pizzas frozen with the toppings, including cheese, on top-the sacrilege! This makes it impossible for them to give you one without cheese.  Some waiters will be honest and admit they use frozen pizzas, others, as we found, will try claim their chef refuses to make pizzas without cheese on ”moral” grounds!

-Fresh pasta is often made with egg. The good news is that many restaurants offer dried versions, such as spaghetti, that don’t. Just ask your waiter.

Home made vegan pesto with wholewheat pici pasta
Home made vegan pesto with wholewheat pici pasta

-Try a risotto or polenta (a creamy corn grain) as an alternative. If there is a pasta sauce you like the sound of, ask if it could be served with these grains instead.

-Make sure your ribollitas are meat free. All the vegetable soups I came across contained vegetable stock, but it’s always best to check.

-Lactose free goods: Vegans, rejoice! It turns out that there is a growing demand, in Tuscany at least, for these. Coming from the land of cheese, this may sound like crazy talk. But in my experience, larger supermarkets often stocked dairy free alternatives to milk and usually yogurts, at least. The bigger Coop stores even go one better,

stocking dairy free cheese. Awareness of dairy intolerances extends to some ice cream shops, which not only stock sorbets but creamy dairy free ice creams made with soya. I’m not sure if it is down to the vast numbers of tourists who visit the region, but I’m not complaining either way.

A vegan rice pudding
A vegan rice pudding

-Biscuits: Great news for snackers. Many packs I found didn’t contain milk or eggs. Just make sure to read and translate the ingredients lists carefully.

-Chocolate: In plentiful supply. Lots of good quality dark chocolate does not contain milk in the ingredients lists.

-Wine: A tricky subject. Bottles with vegan signs on them are hard to come by. Some vegans prefer to eschew the drink entirely to play it safe. Others, myself included after a long day in the saddle, can opt for organic wines. These don’t contain ordinary fertilisers, which can often contain animal derivatives. But unfortunately, some may still contain natural additives derived from animal products. Your choice, my friend :).

 

Vegan in Italia

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