Friday, October 16, 2009

Life Under the Vegan Tuscan Sun

Florence, home to Michelangelo's David. Being in the birthplace of the Renaissance, I couldn't help be hopeful for a dietary Renaissance.

Speechless. The Cathedral of St. Maria del Fiore.

Cross the river, get spectacular views.

The little dots: cats on the rooftops of Florence, viewed from my hotel. At one point, I spotted 10 cats!

These cute little Fiats are all over Italy, as were Smart Cars.

Ribollita, a Tuscan soup containing bread, cannellini beans and vegetables. This hearty soup, for 6 euros at an unmemorable restaurant, was filling enough for a meal.

This was the basic house salad I found. One notable difference from here: it was always just served with oil and vinegar. The waiter or waitress didn't rattle off a choice of 10 dressings like here, "Would you like French, creamy Italian, blue cheese, honey mustard, thousand island..." and so on.

Rick Steves' Italy travel book recommended Tratorria la Burrasca, which he described as "Flinstone-chic." Their tomato bruschetta, 3 euro, was the best I'd tried in Italy.

With the chunks of bread, this almost resembled a stew rather than what is was: mushroom soup, 5 euros, comforting on drizzly night.

A perfect ending: plum sorbet, 2.60 euro. I carried a reusable spoon in my purse so I could avoid plastic ones. I'd prefer a cone (less wasteful), but mostly everyone I asked said the cones contained dairy.

So many sorbet flavors! I tried apricot on another night. A humane alternative to gelato if you can't find the soy variety, which is scarce.

Even on a vacation when trying to 'leave it all behind', animals are still always on my mind. The looks of these poor souls outside of a market in Florence just reinforced my committment to veganism.

Also upsetting: seeing horse carriages here as well as Sorrento and Rome (although thankfully hardly anyone seemed to be patronizing them). Stomach-churning: seeing horse meat on the menu at a restaurant outside of Venice.

Fortunately, I do not contribute to any of that suffering. Making kinder food choices is easy, such as ordering a vegan eggplant, zucchini and tomato panini on the train ride (instead of a meat or dairy option). Sacrifice: none. Satisfaction: endless.

Off to the coast next.

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