Vegan cheeses in Italy

Vegan cheeses in Italy

Ciao a tutti!

Vegan cheese can be a great addition to pizzas, sauces, pasta toppings, sandwiches, crepes and more! Most is made of rice protein and has the same texture as the real (un-friendly) cheese. In Italy, it can still be difficult to find the faux-cheese. Online websites carry it and it can be shipped pretty easily, however sometimes it is still easier to simply go to the grocery store and get it there.

So what kind of product do we need to look for? And how do we know it’s vegan?

First off, cheese in Italian is formaggio. Different styles can be:

  • cremoso – creamy
  • spalmabile – spreadable
  • grattuggiato – grated
  • solido/a fette – solid/sliced

You want to look for the vegan label on the package, although it may not always be there. This one is vegan,and it is stated vegan on the package. This one was found online and is imported from Germany.


The ingredients are:

Ingredienti: acqua, olio di cocco non idrogenato (23%), fecola di patate, stabilizzante: amido modificato, sale , sale di fusione: polifosfato di sodio, aromi vegan, conservante: acido sorbico, colorante: beta-carotene, che separa l’agente: fecola di patate

Ingredients: water, coconut oil (23%), potato flakes, stablilizers: starch modifier, salt, sodium polyphosphate, natural (vegan) flavors, preservatives: ascorbic acid, coloring: beta-carotene and separating agent: potato flakes

Others are imported from England.

Italy, however, is known for homemade and traditional foods. And with veganism on the rise, homemade vegan cheese can also be found. There is one place called Vegan Mattapoisett di Luciente (Luciente is the name being used) in Cormano, near Milano. The cheese, named non-formaggio (non-cheese) is made by hand and can be shipped all over Italy. Cheeses include:

  • Maple smoked cheddar
  • Spreadable blue cheese
  • Smoked spicy cheese
  • Thyme and rosemary flavored cheese
  • Macrobiotic made from algae/nori
  • Black pepper cheese
  • Rose cheese
  • Beer cheese
  • And much much more!


You can also find them at the farmers market, the third Sunday of every month in Milano at the following address, just make sure to double check on the internet:

Torchiera Cascina Senz’acqua in Piazza
Cimitero Maggiore

And the first Sunday of every month:

Cox 18 in via Conchetta, Milano

Most likely, this is the first homemade, traditional vegan cheese that will spark many others to follow.

Mangia Veg!!


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Largest Vegan supermarket – Rome, Italy

Largest Vegan supermarket – Rome, Italy

Ciao a tutti!

Good news for you vegans in and around Rome! It is now official that as of July 2014 iVegan, which was originally just an online vegan store, has now a brick and mortar location.

During their inauguration in July they gave away free vegan croissants and drinks for anyone, vegan or non-vegan that came in to check out the store. The coffee shop next door even started serving vegan cappuccinos!

Some of the products that can be found there include:

  • vegan cheese
  • seitan
  • tofu
  • tempeh
  • vegan fish
  • products made from wheat gluten
  • foods made from hemp seeds
  • vegan milks
  • and more!

Products come from local vegan food companies and also larger companies, but attention is always on quality.

The iVegan store can be found at via Angelo Emo 125, Rome, Italy.

Since 2008 the iVegan association has been spreading the word throughout Italy about the social and econmical advantages of a Vegan lifestyle. They promote animal rights and plant-based living in all of Italy.


Mangia Veg!!


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Cookies with meat?

Cookies with meat?

Ciao a tutti!

I sometimes get frustrated from people who consistently ask me why I continue to check what is in my food. Not that I am really bothered, because I am happy to explain what it means to eat a plant-based diet; but it’s the faces they sometimes make when I check and inspect my food, that according to them could NEVER contain meat or animal products.

Humph. I beg to differ. EVERYTHING could possibly contain animal products. And even normally innocent items, like cookies, CAN and DO contain meat. Actual pieces of chopped up animals.

In southern Italy, these cookies are quite famous and if you are vegan, definitely ones to stay far, far away from.

The are called ‘Mpanatigghi in Sicilian dialect or sometimes called dolce di carne or impanatigghi and they are breaded cookies in a half-moon shape filled with a mix of almonds, walnuts, chocolate, sugar, cinnamon, cloves and….you guessed it…minced cow meat. Wow, what a way to ruin a cookie!

gli impanatigghi di modica

These cookies are a traditional, ancient recipe found in Modica, Sicily in the province of Ragusa; in fact, it is one of the many reasons why Modica is famous. If you find them anywhere else in Italy it is because they have most likely been imported from Modica.

Fortunately someone must have caught on that not everyone wants meat filled cookies, so there are some versions around that are made with eggplant. Of course, you still have to check to see if they used milk, butter, eggs or lard in the cookie dough (and yes, the traditional recipes calls for eggs and lard).

If going into a pasticceria to buy, you can just ask if they have the cookies senza carne. Or just skip those cookies altogether and pick something else.



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Reading food labels in Italy – Lard

Reading food labels in Italy – Lard

Ciao a tutti!

Many people who travel to Italy and do not know the language can often buy products with ingredients in them that they are not aware of. Even people who are well versed in the language may mistakenly read a food label.

For example, there are many different ways to say sugar or salt, just to name a few. Knowing that sugar can be labeled sweetener or salt is also labeled sodium, can help us find products without those ingredients in them, if that is what we choose.

But there are also many different ways to say lard. Lard is basically animal fat or sometimes more specifically, pork fat. For a vegan it is essential that we understand this word and any derivatives of it.

strutto di maiale che schifo

Lard can be found in many products in Italy including:

  • breads
  • cookies
  • snack cakes
  • crackers
  • pizza crust/frozen pizzas
  • microwave meals
  • ready-made/frozen meals
  • soups

This unappetizing substance can be found under words such as:

  • Lardo – bacon-fat
  • lardo di colonnata – “high quality” fat
  • lardello di maiale – pork fat
  • Sugna – pork fat
  • Strutto – lard

These words are important to know on labels, but you also have to be real careful eating out. Many, many traditional Italian kitchens use lard in their recipes, whether it is for making the pizza dough or making cakes. Below is a video (in Italian) from a traditional pizzeria from Naples. He uses strutto in the pizza dough. For those of you wishing to know when he says it, it’s at 34-35 seconds, listen for olio extra virgine (extra virgin olive oil), then strutto.

This chef also uses strutto and milk in his gluten-free pizza Margherita. In theory, traditional pizzas from Naples should not contain lard, because as in the pizza making world, this is a “trick” to make the dough softer and many chefs should not use it in their pizza dough.

One general tip: the softer the pizza crust, the more chance is that they used lard.

Anyhow, if they pre-make all the pizza dough in the morning (which usually they do), make sure it doesn’t have the strutto. Although the dough shouln’t contain lard, in some of the regions of the Italian countryside, such as Abruzzo, Molise, Campania – where there is still a strong tradition of farming – you may find it in many more recipes in general.

Remember, every chef has a different way of preparing food and unless you are familiar with the traditional kitchens and recipes of Italy, you will never know what is in your food! Regions change, cooks change and ingredients change.

Italy is vegan friendly if you know what to look for.

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Famous Vegans in Italy

Famous Vegans in Italy

Ciao a tutti!

We have a list of some famous Italians that are vegan (or at least vegetarian) in Italy.
They may or may not be known outside of Italy, but if you’re looking for vegan music, wish to choose TV shows from vegan actors/actresses or simply want to know more about famous people in Italy, these would be your people:

* Franco Battiato, singer and director (vegetarian)

* Adriano Celentano, singer and TV personality (stands up for animal rights, labels himself as a vegetarian)

* Giorgio Celli, scientist (animal rights)

* Marco Columbro, TV personality (vegetarian)

* Manuela Di Centa, cross country ski, olympic champion and politician (vegetarian)

* Margherita Hack, astronomer, politician and scientist (had never eaten meat in her life, both parents were vegetarians. She could easily bike 75 miles. She passed away in 2013 at 91 years old.

* Jovanotti, singer (him and his wife are both vegetarians)

* Paola Maugeri, author (vegan, says that revolution starts on the dinner plate)

* Gianni Morandi, singer (vegan)

* Red Canzian, singer (Vegan and promoter of veganism. He can be found around Italy talking about veganism. His choice to be vegan is for ethical reasons.)

* Red Ronnie, TV personality and journalist (Vegan and raising 2 vegan children. Has not taken antibiotics in over 15 years)

* Mario Tozzi, geologist and scientist (vegetarian)

* Professor Umberto Veronesi, oncologist and former Minister of Italian Healthcare (stands up for animal rights and a vegetarian lifestyle)

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Nutritional Yeast in Italy

Nutritional Yeast in Italy

Ciao a tutti!

We have had some of our readers asking about Nutritional Yeast and if it is possible to find it in Italy. The good news is YES!

Nutritional yeast can be found pretty easily, if you have a bit of patience. Very first thing to know: the vocabulary.

Nutritional yeast is lievito in scaglie in Italian; you may also see it written as lievito alimentare or lievito alimentare in scaglie

Brewer’s yeast is lievito di birra or lievito di birra in scaglie

So make sure you are getting the right one. The trick is sometimes the companies will have a bad translation. We saw lievito alimentare in scaglie that was actually translated in English as Brewer’s yeast, so it can be confusing. This is, however, the correct product.

lievito alimentare

If you get a chance, check the label. Check for key words. A label like this will indicate the correct product:

Lievito alimentare maltato in scaglie biologico.

Un prezioso concentrato di nutrienti completamente naturale e biologico, saporito e delicatamente salato per arricchire ogni preparazione e ottimo sostituto ad una grattuggiata di formaggio, permette di arricchire i propri piatti e trarre benefici salutistici allo stesso tempo con una semplice spolverata. Biologico e nel pratico formato in barattolo apri e chiudi per garantire sempre la freschezza e la comodità di utilizzo.
Particolarmente indicato nelle diete che escludono ingredienti di origine animale grazie all’apporto di vitamine del gruppo B, tra cui la B12, e proteine vegetali.

Ingredienti: lievito alimentare in scaglie bio 79%, farina di malto d’orzo bio 20%, sale.

Highlighted words to look for are lievito alimentare (nutritional yeast), ottimo sostituto ad una grattuggiata di formaggio, (a great substitute for grated cheese ), indicato nelle diete che escludono ingredienti di origine animale (indicated for diets that exclude ingredients of animal origin), and vitamine del gruppo B, tra cui la B12, (B-Vitamins, especially B12)

Here are a few things you will have to take into consideration:

#1.) Which city are you in? Depending on where you are in Italy may be the determining factor for finding nutritional yeast. Smaller cities, rural areas, or more traditional villages may not have stores that carry it. It may take a trip to the next town or a city nearby.

#2.) Which grocery store are you shopping in? Some stores are more vegan and health friendly than others. Just like anywhere else, you have your big superchains and then you have smaller stores. Most of the health food stores like NaturaSi should carry the yeast, but again just depends what kind of request for it they have in the supermarket. Most of the big superchains, like Esselunga or Tigros (northern Italy), La Coop (central Italy) or Conad (southern Italy) just to name a few, have started to have health food isles specifically for vegan or gluten-free food.


#3.) North, South, East or West? Going back to location: where you are in Italy will depend on your nutritional yeast success. Northern Italy is more developed than other parts of Italy and there is a large population of vegans around. It will not be difficult around areas like Milan. Southern Italy can get a bit tricky. Again, this just depends on the chain and location where you are. For example, we visited the Conad in Modica in the province of Ragusa, Sicily, however they did not carry nutritional yeast. They did have rice milk and soy milk, though. And another store we visited, Cash and Carry did not have it either. We did find some delicious vegan cookies, though!

#4.) Erboristeria. The Erboristeria is not a grocery store; literally translated it would be “herbal supplement” store. Although we browsed some of these shops for vegan snacks, we have not had success finding nutritional yeast. However, we have not been to every single Erboristeria in Italy. We know at least one in Italy that carries it: Ghinato Erboristeria in Sassari, Sardegna. Not sure if they have it in-house, but you can get it on their website here. Don’t rule it out; we have found many herbal teas, vegan cookies and jams, seitan and tofu and health alternatives at the local Erboristeria. It is definitely worth a trip!

#5.) Online shops. If you are in Italy, cannot seem to find it, looked everywhere and you’re staying for a couple of weeks or more you can try some online stores. Macrolibrarsi sells it on their website. There are also several companies out of the UK or Germany where you can find nutritional yeast. It is usually free shipping anywhere in the European Union and delivery is about 3-4 days, depending on the company. Of course, you can get it express delivery for an extra charge.

#6.) Bring your own. Yes. You can also travel with your own. Personally for short trips, I would not worry about it. Skipping a few days of N.Y is not going to hurt anyone. If you do bring it, make sure it is packed nicely in the suitcase. Air pressure in the airplane could cause the plastic bottle to pop open and that would not be so nice to have yeast all over the clothing.


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