MEATLESS IN ITALY - Everything for vegans and vegetarians

Depending on which region you are in Italy, you automatically eat vegetarian (or vegan). In fact, the number of people who are consciously and exclusively vegan or vegetarian in Italy is rather small and depends on the region.

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1 in 100 Italians eat vegan, 5 in 100 Italians eat vegetarian. The majority of meatless eaters in Italy are between the ages of mid-20s and mid-30s. Italy's seniors are the least likely to give up cheese, meat and fish. Only 1 in 500 pensioners in Italy lives vegan.

pasta with green vegetable on white and black ceramic plate
Spaghetti with pesto, chilli, broccoli and dried tomatoes: 100 percent vegetarian
Photo by Federico Ramirez on

The proportion of women and men is about the same. In the greater Milan area, Sardinia and Sicily, meatless eating is most common. The three main reasons for meatless eating: 1. personal philosophy of life, 2. health reasons and 3. respect for animals. These are the results of a survey by the market researcher Eurispes.

When buying food online, Italian shoppers usually opt for healthy food, as the Coop Report 2021 shows. Sales of vegetarian products increased by 127 percent, those of vegan products by 90 percent.

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Food is known to play a big role in Italy. Dishes and recipes are passed down through generations. This is probably why the willingness to change ingredients is rather low, as a study by ProVeg shows: One in five Italians, for example, has no interest in trying vegan cheese, according to a survey by ProVeg. About one in 10 would try vegan cheese if it tasted the same in texture and taste as conventional cheese.

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Typical Vegan Dishes from Cologne

Vegetarian dishes are at home on any "normal" Italian menu. But even with vegan alternatives, you actually have a good choice in traditional Italian cuisine. Here are just three examples:

Spaghetti aglio e olio

  • Spaghetti with garlic and olive oil, sometimes also with parsley and chillies
spaghetti aglio e olio with chopped basil on white plate
Photo by visionart.av on


  • Toasted bread with tomatoes, spices and olive oil
bruschette were invented in abbruzzo
Fruity, tomatoey, spicy - and 100 per cent vegan: bruschetta, here in Venice

Pizza Marinara

  • Pizza without cheese, but with spicy tomato sauce and oregano
pizza marinara
Photo: Funky Data/Getty Images Signature

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written by Annie Kayser, first published on 24 November 2022

Title - Collage: ALEA images/Getty Images Signature via canva. com