I am vegan, and one of the questions I get asked a lot when I tell people I went abroad to Italy is, “Was it difficult to find food to eat there?”
In short, yes and no.
The only times I would really run into issues was when I was traveling. At most bus stops or train stations it was hard to find something vegan that didn’t come in a plastic bag. Even at restaurants in some of the cities I visited, finding good vegan food (as in not just salad) on the menu could be difficult. And trying to explain in another language that I didn’t want my food made with meat or dairy? Even worse.
Now I’m not saying the Europe doesn’t have vegan options, because it does. Plenty. My biggest fear going abroad was actually that Siena, being such a small city, would be lacking in these options. Luckily, I was wrong. Siena was full of hidden gems*, which I’m here to share with you in case you ever find yourself there.
- Bio & Chocolate – A small, vegan and allergen-free cafe owned by a sweet man named Michele. One my favorite places to stop by for a snack, a meal, or even some groceries!
- La Rosa – A Chinese restaurant, for when I needed my tofu fix. They made a mean curried rice as well, which you can bet I ordered every time I was there.
- Consorzio Agrario Siena – Truly a must if you are ever in Siena (some say it has the best pizza!), the Consorzio is a market full of fresh and locally farmed foods from Siena and Arezzo, meant to support and enhance the agricultural production of the territory.
- Oasi Verde – Right down the road from Bio & Chocolate is this little shop, also serving up great vegan and gluten free dishes (along with fresh fruits and vegetables).
- San Paolo Pub – A must include because not only is this bar great and in a prime location, but they also made the best bruschetta I had while in Italy.
- Venchi – A Gelateria with many branches around Italy, home to my favorite vegan chocolate and mango ice cream combo.
- Biosfera Nature – The natural health store of Siena. It carries a large amount of beauty products, and more importantly all of the vegan snacks I could have dreamed of.
- Pizzeria Poppi – I certainly saved the best for last. There is a slice for everyone at Pizzeria Poppi, and this restaurant still holds a special place in my heart. If you are ever looking for pizza in Siena, wander down Banchi di Sotto until you see the giant white sign with blue lettering that reads “Pizzeria.” You will not regret it.
*These are not all vegan restaurants, but places with vegan-friendly options!
Written by Teddi Shapiro, class of 2019