How to be a vegetarian in Bologna and in Italy.

The BBC recently published an article on vegetarian eating in Bologna. The article is entitled “Where vegetarianism is an exotic illness” written by Dany Mitzman who lives in Bologna and is a a long term vegetarian. After reading her article, here at Emilia Delizia, we felt that we should write back an open letter to this author on our website for everyone to read.

Artichokes are an Italian speciality and can be eaten raw with a little olive oil salt and vinegar

First of all the article gives a stereotyped images of Italians as short-sighted and meat hungry people with no respect for vegetarians and animals. Is it so difficult to find vegetarian restaurants in Bologna the capital of the Mortadella pork sausage?

The short answer is do not expect to find vegetarian options on the menu of a TRADITIONAL TRATTORIA, as the words imply the cooking is based on the tradition. Back in the days people had to get by with what they had and pork fat was often the only option to get the calories that they need to sustain themselves. So these menus are not designed to be vegetarian friendly, and non-meat eater should not expect to find meatless dishes at a place proudly serving the traditional fare.

This does not exclude that in the tradition there are no vegetarian dishes, just to name a few you can have Tigelle (bread) with some local cheese or pinzimonio which is a selection of raw vegetables (crudity). Also you can have maltagliati e fagioli, they are the trimmings of tagliatelle making served with beans, just ask the waiter if they used pancetta to flavour the sauce.

Pinzimonio – a vegetarian dish available in Italy

Most restaurants in Italy will be more than happy to customise their dishes for you. Even if it is not on the menu you can ask to have pasta and tomato sauce. These days they are quite accustomed to being asked for variation due to diet restrictions of their clients. Such as gluten intolerances, food allergies vegan or vegetarian options are welcome as they want you as a customer. In fact Italian are fussy eaters and it is quite common to hear in restaurant a customer to ask for a customised pasta dish or pizza.

Did you know that Italy and the Mediterranean diet is vegan friendly?

If you are in Bologna and you are vegetarian or vegan, remember that you are in Italy home of the Mediterranean diet. You can easily find a pizzeria and order Pizza Marinara. This pizza is just the base, olive oil, and garlic. It is tasty, cheap, healthy, and filling and of course it is vegan friendly. Now many pizzeria also cater for gluten intolerant people and it is common to find Kamut pizza, or even totally gluten free varieties which are normally prepared in a separate kitchen.

Continuing we can also mention other dishes such as spaghetti aglio, olio and peperoncino. A simple spaghetti dish made by stir frying garlic, and chilli pepper in extra virgin olive oil. Especially dishes from the south tend to be made with wheat, vegetables, olive oil and not much more, above you just have some ideas, I am sure you can figure out more combination of vegetarian and vegan dishes in Italy.

Italy as the home of modern vegetarians.

With so many sausages, cured meats, salami and prosciutto is hard to believe that Italy is now home of 7 millions vegetarians. In fact according to a research by Eurispes now more and more Italian are giving up meat for vegetables making it the most vegetarian country in western Europe. If this trend continues there will be 30 millions vegetarians in 2050 in Italy.

It is also worth to mention an organisation called “UN PUNTO MACROBIOTICO” which has restaurants in many major cities including Bologna. The not-for-profit charity promotes healthy eating via veganism. I believe Dany Mitzman has been a little short-sighted to write an article where the Bolognese are picutured as hungry meat eaters. In our opinion she should do more research about the place where she is living her life at moment.



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by Radovan on Emilia Delizia
Very Nice Morning.

I visited the Food Tours with my wife, we were looking forward to this some time ago and I can state that this tour bring to us very interesting time and experience in spite of the fact that we departed from Milano by morning train at 5,50 am. Our guide was young man and we enjoyed all morning together talking not only about the parmazan, balsamic and parma ham. I really appreciate it. He was very communicate, his driving was safety, very polite. Parmazan farm - amazing, balsamic farm -

by Alyssa on Emilia Delizia
Wonderful Foodies Tour!

My boyfriend and I thoroughly enjoyed the Foodies Tour, which included stops at producers of cheese, balsamic vinegar and cured meat. Paolo was an amazing tour guide – he's extremely knowledgeable, kind and a great communicator. We learned so much! It was really nice to be in a smaller group and most of the producers we visited were small so we were able to get a close up view of the processes. We'd highly recommend Emilia Delizia as this tour was truly authentic and a highlight of our trip!

thank you for the kind review

by Peter jacob on Emilia Delizia

The tour of the Parmesan Reggiano cheese dairy, Balsamic Vinegar farm, the Parma ham and lunch at the organic vineyard was thoroughly enjoyed by our family of 4. Paolo was a gracious and knowledgeable host for the day and provided us with insights to the production of the cheese and balsamic vinegar which was enhanced due to his chemistry background. We would thoroughly recommend this tour to those interested in the specialities produced in the Modena region.

by Janice on Emilia Delizia

We had a wonderful tour, best part about visiting the Modena region!

by Bing Liem on Emilia Delizia
Emilia Delizia

The tour was perfect. I think Paolo would be a splendid ambassador for Italy in the EU. He knows how excellent Italian food and eating together can solve many major problems, and can stop aggressive behavior. Not the hunt for more money, but the well being of family and friends counts. Paolo shows us the products of ages of civilization and he did this like an artist. So after the tour we really love Italia more and we'll come back. We will call you Paolo, Thanks!

by Avihai on Emilia Delizia

Following two tours with your guides this week I would like to express my thanks for some wonderful experiences.
Monday we did the tour of cheese making, balsamic and Salami which was very good and the guide Paolo was very knowledgeable.
The truffle hunt tour today was absolutely amazing, the guide Stefano is pure gold and the tour was built with much thought. Our best experience so far, by far.

Looking forward to more tours and fun next time we are in Italy.

by Johnathan on Emilia Delizia
Super food and super cars

The group (and me) was VERY satisfied. We really enjoyed the Parmegiano Regiano which was interesting and we got to buy some delicate and cheap cheese, the same with the balsamico. The Ferrari driving was off course an experience for life. The Winery lunch felt very genuine and the people there was really welcoming and nice people. The genuine feeling there was however the big plus for us.
Paolo was excellent as our guide. He also felt very genuine. He did not talk just for the sake of talking, but when he had something to say he did it in a respectful and nice way. Everyone in the group really liked him.

Thank you!

by Susan on Emilia Delizia
Lovely food tour and cooking class

Hi Gabriele:

I wanted to let you know what a great day we had this past Friday on our tour with Jacamo. (Probably not spelling it right) He was very nice and explained everything to us. It sure gives you a new appreciation when you are slicing cheese. 🙂 Our tour ended with him taking us to the vineyard for a tour and lunch and there, Paolo, the owner could not have been more nicer. It was a perfect ending.

Please let Jacamo know what a great job he did and how much we really appreciated it and his knowledge

by Simone&Vasco on Emilia Delizia
Food tour in Modena

The website is well structured and we received a prompt answer to all questions. Gabriele supported us with all information we needed and the organization before the trip was excellent.

We had an air conditioned van, which was very relaxing through the whole tour. The first stop was the parmigiano production, which was very impressive and interesting. We could learn and especially see all the different steps and even taste the various aged parmigiano. The second step was the balsamic vinegar tasting. Finally the meat part was interesting in the museum but we hoped that we also could see more about the production and their work, but the tasting was delicious. In overall we had a very informative and well accommodated half day with our guide

by Kimie on Emilia Delizia
Fantastic Tour!!

It was great experience! We visited Parmesan cheese production, Balsamic vinegar farm, Ham museum and Farmer's lunch. Our guide gave us a detailed explanation, we were very satisfied. An excellent tour for a reasonable price, highly recommended.

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One thought on “How to be a vegetarian in Bologna and in Italy.”

  1. Thank you so much for writing this article! So glad to know about the vegan options! In fact I even heard that some pizzeria’s now have vegan cheese options! Super cool!

    I read that bbc article too and I just was not convinced. My parents had been to Italy twenty years ago and they said that they had found plenty of vegetarian food.

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