Veggin’ Out

Your guide to eating vegan in Florence

Nicolette Gibson
April 3, 2008

The large international vegan community does its fair share of traveling, but maintaining the diet and lifestyle can be challenging while on the road. A more strict approach to vegetarianism, veganism eschews all animal by-products including meat, dairy and honey.

 

Opting for a vegan diet doesn't mean you have to live on tossed salad and fruit while you're in Italy. It can be as simple as substituting marinara for meat sauce, enjoying creamy soy or rice milk in place of cow's milk, and exploring all of the superb animal-free, earth-friendly and healthy products in local grocery stores and restaurants.

 

The Tuscan cuisine of cities like Florence offer numerous choices for vegans, including various types of pasta, vegetable stews, beans, fresh vegetables and more. So get out there, dig into the local cuisine and explore what vegan options exist. You never know what you can discover. That's half the fun of it-the other half is eating! Buon appetito!

 

CAFFELATTE

via degli Alfani, 39/r - 055/2478878

Daily from 8am-12am (Monday closes at 9pm)

 

A charming health food café with home-style cooking where brunch is served all day. The menu includes macrobiotic vegan deserts, wholesome hearty vegan soups and tasty vegan quiches. The décor is charming and cozy, the wall full of flyers for independent art events and intelligent reading material. Although the menu is limited, the ambiance is peaceful and unhurried. Pop in for a meal or for afternoon tea and vegan cakes.

 

RUTH'S

Via Farini, 2a - 055/2480888

Sunday through Thursday 12:30pm-2:30pm; 8pm-11pm. Friday 12:30pm-3pm

 

Ruth's is a kosher restaurant known for its Israeli vegetarian cuisine; the clientele are regulars and the food is consistently good. Here you'll find mostly Mediterranean cuisine, particularly Moroccan and Tunisian style dishes. Just ask and the chef will eliminate cheese and fish to serve authentic vegan dishes, including bourekas, falafel and vegetable couscous dishes.

The modern interior is quite welcoming, as are the large windows facing out onto the street and comfortable wooden furniture. Soft background music will accompany your meal. The food is hot and delicious, in graciously sized portions and the service is nothing short of hospitable.

 

IL VEGETARIANO

via delle Ruote, 30 r - 055/475030

Closed Monday and most of August

 

Il Vegetariano is especially great for take-away (tight quarters and no reservations). However, ordering can be a bit confusing for first-timers: go to the front, grab a note pad and write down your selections from the menu. Pay, grab a tray and wait in line for your food.

The interior boasts a dim and cozy atmosphere that's ideal for the colder months. An outdoor garden is perfect for warmer days. The menu is constantly evolving and varied, with a good deal of experimentation among the dishes. Among the decadent, mouth-watering deserts are chocolate tarts, fruit crumbles, and pies. Also a plus is the vast tea and organic wine list. Il Vegetariano is not to be missed when it comes to vegan dining in Florence.

 

VEGETUS

via del Leone 53/r - 055/214722

Open daily 10am-10pm

 

Recommended for take away, this spot offers authentic vegetarian and vegan Tuscan cuisine. The restaurant serves traditional dishes like hearty lasagna, ribollita, pastas, soups, cooked and raw vegetables, desserts, teas, organic espresso and coffee. The meals are simple but straightforward-the essence of Italian cuisine.

 

EBY'S

Via Dell'Oriuolo 5/r - 055/240027

Open daily 11am-3am

 

Because Eby's is not 100 percent vegetarian, options are slim, but the menu does include tasty vegan burritos. It is also the place to go if you are looking for a colorful and abundant salad bar.

 

POP CAFÉ

Piazza Santo Spirito, 18 - 055/213852

 

Pop Café offers vegetarian brunch (12:30pm to 3:00pm) complete with meat alternatives like marinated tofu and seitan. The interior is narrow and has a pleasant, artsy feel. Another popular time to make your way down to Pop Café is 7:30pm to 9:30pm, for vegetarian aperitivo: the tiny café is bustling with its cheerful regulars having a cocktail and munching on goodies.

 

TURKUAZ

via dei Servi, 65/r - 055/2399959

 

A Turkish fast-food joint, not 100 percent vegetarian, Turkuaz serves first-rate falafels for a healthy fast meal on the go. If you are hankering for something more than a falafel, check out the tasty veg-friendly options like okra in tomato sauce, chickpeas, dolmas, Turkish couscous and grilled vegetables. Turkuaz offers indisputable quality food for a cheap price.

 

INDIA

Via Gramsci, 43a, Fiesole - 055/599900

Open daily 7:30pm-11:30pm

 

India, the city's first Indian restaurant, is located in the Fiesole hills. It has been acknowledged as the finest of its kind thanks to high-quality cooking and an atmosphere that blends perfectly into its countryside setting. Though the food is delicious, you'll find that some of its characteristic spiciness has been toned down for European palate.

 

ASHOKA

via Pisana 86r - 055/224446

Tuesday through Sunday noon-2:30pm; 7pm-12am

 

This Indian cuisine is based on the tandoori and mughlai tradition. Don't miss the fantastic starters, which are served with both sweet and spicy sauces. Though many of the tandoori specialties are predominately meat based, there are several veggie options in addition to the delicious roti. Try one of the Indian wines and different varieties of tea. The pulsating sitar music perfectly accompanies the striking hand-printed fabrics that decorate the warm interior.

 

IL PIRATA

via de' Ginori, 56r - 055/218625

Open daily 11am-9pm

 

This is typical Italian cooking at its finest. Though this delicatessen serves meat, there is no shortage of vegetarian/vegan options. The best part about Il Pirata is the all-you-can-eat buffet that starts at 6:30 pm for only 6 euro. The buffet includes over 20 different speciality dishes! With an equal number of veg-friendly alternatives, Il Pirata offers high-quality food, good service, and low prices.

 

HEALTH FOOD STORES

 

DE HERBORE

via del Proconsolo, 43r - 055/211706

Monday through Friday 9am-7:30pm; Saturday 10am-7:30pm; closed Sunday

De Herbore is more of a macrobiotic pharmacy than a typical health-food store. Stock up on vitamins, supplements and an assortment of organic foods, including produce, tofu, seitan. Make a trip here for all your supplemental needs.

 

NATURASI

via Masaccio, 88/90 - 055/2001068

Monday 3:30pm-8pm; Tuesday through Saturday 9am-8pm;; closed Sunday

‘Il supermeracto della natura', NaturaSi is a small and quaint organic market. There are vegan and gluten-free selections, non-dairy milk products and organic produce.

 

UN PUNTO MACROBIOTICO

via Dei Pilastri, 10R - 055/2346975

Monday through Saturday 9am-1:00pm; 4pm-8pm

Un Punto Marcobiotico carries organic fruits and vegetables.

 

*TIP* Most major grocery stores carry veg-friendly brands like Valsoia and Alpro Soya that offer a selection of mock meats, gelato, and other tasty deserts like ice cream, crème caramel and pudding.

 

 

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