Italy; carb heaven, the promise of unlimited access to pizza and pasta. But as a vegan, travelling to a new place – especially one where you don’t speak the language – can sometimes seem a little daunting; you can’t simply point at a dish on the menu and hope for the best! Not to worry, with just a smidge of foresight you can plan a relaxing holiday, free from animal products.
Whenever I’m thinking of heading somewhere new, I immediately check Happy Cow. If you haven’t downloaded this app (where have you even been?!), download it now. It’s an invaluable resource for finding vegan food in an unfamiliar city. Browsing the app, I found a huge list of restaurants, cafes and gelato shops that were listed as providing SFV food in Venice.
My mum, being super on the ball, did the same thing on the Happy Cow website and came across Mario Alla Fava, a restaurant (which by happy coincidence happened to be 20 seconds walk from our apartment) which provided a separate, delicious sounding, vegan menu. She booked this for us in advance to be sure we had a special New Year’s meal to top off our adventure.
Now, having booked this via email, there seemed to be a lack of communication between team members when we pitched up at Mario Alla Fava and were told there was no booking in our name. Not to worry, after sifting through my emails we were able to waft clear evidence of our booking at the waiter, and a table for four magically appeared. After this minor hiccup, the rest of our evening was delightful.
The vegan menu offered a welcome diversity of choices which included courgette spaghetti, seitan salad, linguine and gnocchi, as well as desserts! It was lovely to see a menu that had been so carefully planned by a non-vegan establishment; I didn’t feel as though vegan food was an awkward after-thought, but a proud-offering. Myself & Alice both ordered from the vegan menu and we can confirm that the food was absolutely delicious. I opted for the aubergine, tomato & tofu stack, followed by the linguine with black olive pesto & wild fennel cream, whilst Alice chose the pappa al pomodoro and the potato & turnip gnocchi. These were such original offerings for a vegan menu and the dishes were incredibly rich with flavour. Consequently, I felt obligated to sample a dessert, choosing a chocolate cake served with raspberries. Needless to say, I left feeling both happy and full. This restaurant is a must-try if you ever find yourself in Venice.
Being in a self-catered apartment, we cooked some of our meals ourselves. The supermarket provided us with obvious staples such as bread, pasta, veggies & fruit, but I was happy to discover that things such as tofu, soy milk, soy yoghurt and seitan were also readily available on the shelves – so I was never short of a tasty meal.
It’s easy to get peckish as you spend time wandering the streets and exploring the city – if you’re ever caught short and aren’t sure if there’s anywhere vegan nearby then never forget that pizza is your best friend. Simply ask for your veggie pizza “senza formaggio” – without cheese – and you are good to go. I was busy practicing my Italian for one such occasion when we walked into a nearby restaurant, Al Vecio Canton, only to discover with delight that by a complete stroke of luck, there was a vegan pizza with VEGAN CHEESE already on the menu!
The cheese was almost identical in taste and texture to the cheese Zizzi’s use on their vegan pizza – i.e. bloody delicious. Again, it was brilliant to be able to order something straight off the menu and not have to feel like the odd one out when dining with non-vegans.
There will always be vegan food for you, no matter where you travel, but Venice certainly surpassed expectations. There was an abundance of delicious food to eat and I got to sample some truly Italian delights. I’m dying to go back in summer to check out some of the gelato shops which were all closed for our winter trip!
Have you had any experience of hunting down vegan food in Italy? Where has been the most vegan-friendly place you’ve travelled? Let me know!