A vegan’s guide to… Rome

Read Time:   |  5th July 2016

Ah, Rome. Possibly one of the most romantic, passionate and beautiful places on Earth. Gelato, pizza, pasta, wine… you’d be forgiven for thinking this city wouldn’t be too welcoming to those on a plant-based diet. However, you’ll be surprised at just how vegan-friendly Roma can be – Rachida Brocklehurst shows us how to enjoy all aspects of Roman life, leaving the city with a full heart and stomach.

Where to eat

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There are some fantastic vegan and vegetarian restaurants in Rome, and of course the food comes highly recommended. Here are some of the best…

Unicerso Vegano A vegan fast food chain using local produce and natural foods that offers tasty and healthy options. Piazza del Paradiso, 18

La Capra Campa Specialising in authentic Italian cuisine, but with a vegan twist. Homemade vegan Parmesan anyone? Via Dignano d’Istria, 51

Ops! Cucina Mediterranea With a buffet service that won’t leave you disappointed, there are plenty of delicious items here. It can get expensive so remember you pay by weight. Via Bergamo, 56

Solo Crudo Everyone loves street food, and here you can enjoy smoothies, juices, soups and more! Order to takeaway and explore the city. Viale Parioli, 192

Romeow Cat Bistro A cat café with wonderful vegan options? Book your flight now! It’s advisable to call ahead for dinner reservations. Via Francesco Negri, 15

For a quick bite

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Chef Express is a chain offering quick and easy snack food. There are two vegan options here: a salad or the vegan sandwich. Found in most train stations and airports.

iVegan supermarket is a 100% vegan supermarket and ideal for buying snacks for on-the-go.
Via Angelo Emo, 125/129

Bio’s Café is the place to rest your weary feet and indulge in a vegan croissant, cake and coffee.
Piazza di Porta San Paolo, 6A 

What to order at a non-vegan place

Of course, you might be traveling with someone who doesn’t want to go to vegan restaurants all the time. No need to fear as you will be able to find plenty to eat. Keep your eyes peeled for these options on pretty much every Italian menu you’ll come across…

  • Bruschetta – just double check they come
    without cheese.
  • Olives – usually fine, but occasionally stuffed with cheese.
  • Focaccia – flatbread topped with veggies
    and herbs.
  • Verdure al Forno – roasted vegetables, perfect for a light lunch.
  • Carciofi alla Romana – artichokes slices, Roman style.
  • Caricofi alla Guida – fried artichoke pieces, Roman style and delicious!
  • Pasta Pomodoro – make sure you ask for dried (‘secca’) pasta and no cheese. This comes with a tomato sauce.
  • Pasta All’Arrabbiata – again, establish you want dried pasta and no cheese. A personal favourite of mine, pasta in a spicy tomato sauce.
  • Pizza Marinara An accidentally vegan dish, which comes with a generous amount of tomatoes, garlic, basil and olive oil. Of course, any proper pizza base is vegan so you can really pick and choose your own toppings, just remember to ask for no cheese.
Local’s tip

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Wendy Werneth, from thenomadicvegan.com used to live in Rome and frequently returns as it’s one of her favourite places. Wendy’s number one tip is to eat as much gelato as you can: “When choosing a gelateria, look for a sign that says ‘gelato artigianale’ or ‘produzione propria’, which means it’s homemade. I put all gelato to the banana test: If the banana flavour is a bright yellow, walk away. If, on the other hand, it’s a dull, grey colour, then it’s actually made from real bananas, which means that the rest of the flavours are probably also made from real, fresh ingredients. The dark chocolate flavour usually doesn’t contain any milk, but it might have egg whites in it, so be sure to ask.

There is even a 100% vegan gelateria called Olive Dolci and it has a total of 32 different flavours! Via Emanuele Filiberto, 140 and Piazza Cavour at Via Vittoria Colonna 20 (opens 25 March).

Handy phrases
  • I am vegan: Io sono vegano/vegana
  • Without cheese: Senza formaggio
  • Without meat, poultry or fish: Senza carne, pollame o pesce
  • Do you have soya milk?: Avete latte di soia?
  • Please use olive oil and not butter: Si prega di utilizzare l’olio di oliva e non burro
  • Without eggs: Senza uova
  • Dried pasta: Secca pasta
  • Without milk: Senza latte
Top 5 sites to visit

Needless to say, there is so much to see in Rome, you’ll never see it all in one go. However, these sites will give you a true flavour of what this beautiful and historic city has to offer…

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  1. The Pantheon
    A spectacular example of truly magnificent architecture and the most well-preserved Roman monument. When you enter, look up above to see the famous dome with its hole allowing light to shine down into the building.
  2. The Colosseum
    A 2,000 year-old amphitheatre, it is one of the most easily recognisable landmarks of this ancient city. I recommend booking a tour so you can really learn about the history and background in detail and skip the queues.
  3. The Roman Forum
    See the ruins of some of the most
    important political buildings of Ancient
    Rome. The Forum is near The Colosseum,
    a perfect way to spend an afternoon.
  4. The Trevi Fountain
    A stunning and equally famous fountain and the largest of its kind. They say that if you throw a coin into the fountain, you will return to Rome, so make sure you have change!
  5. Vatican City
    Even if religion isn’t your thing, the sheer magnificence and history of this area of Rome is enough to ensure you visit Vatican City. Each Wednesday morning the Pope delivers a speech to the crowds of people who congregate to see him in St Peter’s Square. Book your free ticket in advance, collect from a Swiss Guard, and once the Pope has spoken head into St Peter’s Basilica. For more information, visit papalaudience.org.

You can book various tours in advance through Isango!

Getting to Rome

Book through Skyscanner.net to get the cheapest rates. Fiumicino Airport is the main airport and has a direct train (the Leonardo Express) which takes you right into Rome’s main train station (Stazione Termini). Budget airlines tend to fly into Ciampino Airport, which offers direct coaches into Rome, or you can take a taxi which should cost you €30. To ensure you aren’t hungry on your journey, take some filling food to keep you going. Personally I take a couple of cooked potatoes, a couple of Cliff bars and a banana or two – just in case!

Where to stay

The-Beehive

The Beehive is an eco-friendly ho(s)tel owned by an American couple and it is very vegan-friendly indeed! Let the owners know you’re vegan and they will be more than happy to assist you. It also has a great location and its own vegetarian café. Via Marghera, 8 www.the-beehive.com

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Vegan Food & Living

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