According to British chain Tesco, vegan food is ‘UK’s Fastest growing culinary trend of 2018’. Not only in England it’s a trend, but also in my country, Italy, change is happening. More and more people are buying plant-based products or dining at vegetarian eateries. And while for some it might be linked to health or curiosity, I dare say most are in it for the long run.
I am the same. I can remember loving animals ever since I was a child, feeling drawn to them and feeling compassion towards them (and people too, vegans don’t hate people, despite the stereotype).
But it took a while for me to eventually open my eyes to the cruelty we inflict on animals, even unknowingly. When I first went vegetarian I was already twenty years old. Years later I finally moved on to veganism and my only regret is that I didn’t do it sooner.
I live in Italy and people often ask me ‘Isn’t it difficult?’, ‘How do you do it? I could never give up cheese!’ and ‘What do you eat when you go out?’
Well, fortunately, I have some good news for lovers of Italy and Italian food: veganism might be somewhat new to my country but in the last few years there has been a huge growth of plant-based products and going out to eat, or even just shopping in supermarkets, is easier than ever.
Impact of consumers
It’s not even just the culinary aspect – animal rights organizations are growing, new ones are born. I think we can thank social media for that. Virtually everyone is on Facebook or Instagram or Twitter (or all) and it’s so easy to spread information and awareness.
It’s much harder to ignore the truth that we need to confront ourselves with every day: our treatment of animals is appalling, the state of our planet keeps deteriorating and mistakenly thinking I am so small, what I do won’t make a difference is false.
We, as consumers, have a huge power and we need to act accordingly: we can shape the world we live in with our personal choices, every day, and it’s never too late to start.
Where to eat in Milan
In Milan, where I live, there are plenty of vegan or vegetarian restaurants. Some of them are quite expensive, but this is not necessarily related to the food itself; most places in Milan aren’t cheap, a Margherita pizza can be 10 euros, and while that might sound okay if you come from abroad, that’s outrageous for most Italian people.
Plant-based cafés and restaurants are getting more and more popular though, and I believe this will help lower the general prices. In case you plan on visiting Milan, I would like to recommend a few places to visit.
Radicetonda, conveniently located near a major shopping street called Buenos Aires in the area of Porta Venezia, is a cozy and intimate café that serves both handmade food (there’s usually a buffet where you can choose from) and great desserts and breakfast food. Unlike most other places in Milan, the prices are low.
Açai sisters, self-described as the first superfoods bar in Milan, offers dishes that are popular abroad but harder to find here, such as açai bowls, avocado toasts and matcha beverages. Close to renowned Bocconi university, it’s definitely a favorite among students – food is healthy and tastes great, you will want to become a regular customer!
Ghea, in the lovely Navigli district south of the city, is a fancy restaurant with plenty of delicious 100% plant-based food. The menu is seasonal as they want their products to be fresh and nutritious and they pay great attention to detail and food presentation. Dishes are great and so pretty!
Hygge, a Scandinavian café, is not purely vegan but they serve delicious vegan-friendly food and I especially recommend their brunch set. It’s an intimate place where you could go with friends without worrying about not being able to eat anything (us vegans know this feeling pretty well). Just make sure you reserve in advance as it’s so popular it gets packed during weekend.
Crazy Cat Cafè is a hit with everyone, despite their food preferences. They serve tasty food and you get to relax in the company of cats, all rescues. You can play with them and cuddle, but not pick them up – the owners are clear about rules you need to follow. You can tell that these lovely animals are loved and well looked after. A part of your bill goes to the expenses related to their care. I really enjoyed their weekend brunch menu, but if you go during the week you can just stop by for coffee and dessert or lunch.
Soulgreen is a very pretty restaurant with lots of amazing vegan options near Garibaldi station. You order through a tablet at your table and there’s literally a world to choose from – soups, bowls, burgers, dips and more. The food is not traditional Italian as you can order Thai, Indian, Asian just to name a few and the location is really convenient to get around.
Avo Brothers is a recently opened café that focuses on avocado dishes, but they also offer burgers and they are the first place in Milan so far to offer the infamous Beyond Meat burger, reason enough to go there and try it out if you haven’t yet! The menu has quite a few vegetarian and vegan options and the place looks cozy and fun.