Italy’s food culture is intrinsic to daily life in Florence, but with the majority of restaurants displaying raw steaks in their windows, and lampredotto being a street favourite, it can sometime seem a lost cause searching for vegetarian friendly food in the city. Still, maintaining dietary principles whilst trying out local Tuscan cuisine is doable. Here’s The Florentine’s guide to vegan and vegetarian Florence.
Veggie-friendly menu staples
For those eating out with vegans and vegetarians, finding feasible options on the menu can be a task, but some go-to foods available in most Florentine restaurants can make any outing suitable for the whole party. Think pizza marinara, schiacciata – great for a lunchtime panino – sorbets and – most Italian of all – a cappuccino or caffé latte served with a splash of milk substitutes, like soy or almond milk.
If you want to dine out, but aren’t sure where to go in this land of the bistecca fiorentina, here is a list of some of the city’s most popular spots for vegan and vegetarian eats.
Florence’s pure vegan places
Looking to pick up a quick meal? Giumella offers a vast selection of vegan foods sold by weight. Combining Tuscan cooking and vegan principles, this deli-restaurant is inspired by locally sourced ingredients. Their dishes are cooked fresh every day and rely heavily on seasonality. Giumella also offers their own “Seitan,” made from lentils, water and Tuscan grains, which forms the base of many of their cooked dishes. Their variety of sweet options are extensive, including vegan cakes and biscuits which make for the perfect take away treat. / www.giumellavegan.it
Just behind Santo Spirito is RAW, a hidden gem with a vegan menu. All dishes are gluten-free, dairy-free and contain no preservatives. Healthy and balanced meals are made fresh daily, using seasonal vegetables and fruits. Menu staples include breakfast bowls, wraps and salads, and even raw vegan gelato. Fresh nut milks offer something delicious after exploring the city. / www.hashtagraw.it
A stone’s throw from the Galleria dell’Accademia (read: a perfect post-David option for those on a vegan diet), il Vegano serves an all vegan lunch and dinner menu. They offer a variety of burgers with meat substitutes as well as quinoa, couscous and salads. Homemade vegan cakes are served every day, along with desserts and delicious plant-based milkshakes. / www.facebook.com/ilveganofirenze
Santa Maria Novella railway station is home to one of Florence’s early vegan eateries, the Dolce Vegan. Their philosophy rejects the rhetoric of vegans ‘going without’ and instead uses a vegan ethos as an impetus to experiment and innovate. Their various pasta dishes are plentiful with locally-sourced vegetables and vegan cheeses while their desserts (including tiramisu and cheesecake) are milk-, egg- and honey-free, using agave as a natural sweetener. / www.dolcevegan.it
Florence’s vegetarian highlights
Near Santa Croce, Libreria Brac offers options beyond classic Italian cooking with its welcoming vegetarian menu. Vaunting an eclectic interior, filled with books, bottles and decorations, Brac is a haven for book lovers as well as vegetarians. Food here isn’t just fresh: it’s beautifully presented. / www.libreriabrac.net
5 e Cinque
5 e Cinque in piazza della Passera offers a seasonal menu with traditional and organic dishes made with locally-sourced ingredients. Many are also sourced from the restaurant’s own garden in the Tuscan countryside, guaranteeing quality. The cosy atmosphere complete with antiques and stylish decor makes it the perfect place for a vegetarian date. / www.5ecinque.it
Ristorante Quinoa aims to evoke the goodness of its food-inspired name through innovative and experimental dishes. Their gluten-free menu features fresh ingredients from the local area and an assortment of pasta dishes. Outside, the restaurant has a photo-worthy seating area, full of plants and foliage, making it the perfect place to enjoy a meal in the sun as the seasons shift. / www.ristorantequinoa.it
Hidden to the north of the city, Il Vegetariano is one of the most famed vegetarian hotspots. With a chalkboard menu on the wall displaying an array of primi and secondi, and an abundant salad bar where you can pick and choose your (healthy!) poison, it’s the perfect place to come for lunch or dinner. They have a large selection of bio wines, and an outdoor seating area with natural charm. Finish dinner with a slice of cheesecake, apple pie or trifle, all made fresh from the kitchen. / www.il-vegetariano.it
This elegant San Lorenzo hotspot maintains the old architecture of the palazzo, with high ceilings and paved floors, while adding a modern twist to the décor. An alternative vegan and vegetarian menu is offered, with extensive options served in Instagram-worthy style. You’ll find pastas and risottos as well as seasonally based dishes like roasted pumpkin and spicy figs. / www.konnubio.com