Mythbusting and things to know when it comes to eating good food in Italy if you are vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free.
Probably one of the MOST common questions I get across all my social media when it comes to dining in Italy is if it’s impossible to eat good in Italy if you’re vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free. The short, honest answer is – absolutely not.
Vegetarians/Vegans : While, yes, meat is a large part of the diet in Italy, so are fresh fruits, vegetables, and naturally vegetarian dishes, and in recent years the Vegan scene in Italy has been making strides.
Apps to use: “HappyCow” is a fantastic app that shows you restaurants with vegan and vegetarian options in whatever city you’re in.
Gluten-Free/Celiac : When it comes to gluten, while Italy IS the land of pizza and pasta there are actually such a high number of Italians with celiac disease (they test all children before the age of 6 for it) that the Italian Celiac Association (AIC) trains and monitors restaurants on how to safely offer gluten-free options – if you see a restaurant with an “AIC” sticker in the window, it means that the restaurant has been verified by the association as celiac friendly, so even those with the strongest allergies are safe to eat there.
Needless to say, gluten-free options are becoming more and more plentiful in bigger cities and it’s truly some of the best gluten-free food I’ve ever had.
Apps to use: The app “Find Me Gluten-Free” shows restaurants in the city that are both dedicated and verified GF, as well as restaurants with Gluten-Free options.
As I’ve mentioned before, while most people in bigger tourist cities will speak at least some level of English, it’s still good to memorize and be able to communicate your dietary restriction in the native language.
“Senza Glutine” = Gluten-Free
“Celiaco” = Celiac “Senza Lattosio” = Lactose-Free
“Vegano” = Vegan
“Vegetariano” = Vegetarian
While dining out in a foreign country (or honestly, any country for that matter) with an allergy or dietary restriction can be stressful, it’s important to remember that there ARE vegan/vegetarian/gluten-free Italians, so no one will judge you or look at you weird if you seek them out. And of course, always always ALWAYS double-check with the restaurant to confirm, especially if you have a strong allergy.