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Vegan in Venice

I had hoped to come back from a recent few days in the Italian city of Venice and be able to tap my nose knowingly and nonchalantly reel off a few local restaurants and trattorias where vegans can get themselves some hearty Mediterranean nosebag.

Alas it transpired that the main eating being done in Venice was the cost of the flight and accommodation eating into my tiny pay cheque and leaving me having to keep my food budget to a minimum.

Luckily, having booked a self-catering apartment, I could make my own scran and keep the costs down, but it did mean that most of the culinary discoveries I made in Venice were of the supermarket kind.

I don't speak Italian but I did swot up on the main words to avoid - along with the usual meaty and fishy suspects, anything with uovo (egg), latte (milk), burro (butter) or crema (cream) was out.

Of course, going to Italy, pasta is plentiful and easy to get in a vegan-friendly style. For a couple of days, I relied on simple pasta and sauce and another day I used it to bulk out the boxed vegetable and minestrone soups that the supermarkets also supplied for an Italian-esque rib-sticking meal.

A quick squizz around on the internet before I headed off left me with the impression that the concept of veganism was a bit of a foreign one in Venice, but I'm happy to report that soy milk can be found in supermarkets - I saw both plain and chocolate kind (oh yes, the Italians have their priorities right).

There were also a few vegan burgers and meat analogues to be had in the little supermarket I visited (the Coop by Piazzalle Roma) - including these two frozen soy cutlets, which weren't half bad when cooked up with some salad and fried potatoes, in tribute to the tourist menus that cropped up in cheap restaurants around the city.

I'm even happier to report that vegan ice cream is to be found - a couple of brands with a couple of flavours, including the amazingly tasty chocolate and hazelnut Benesi creamy goodness, pictured below.

Of course, cooking for yourself is all well and good but sometimes you need to get stuck in to the local offerings, even if you are a big-ass cheapskate like me. I'm a bit of a pudding fiend, so when my short arms did hit my deep pockets it was once again for ice cream.

We came upon the Grom gelateria, an ice cream chain started in Turin. Handily, they list on their website which flavours are vegan. Forearmed with that knowledge, I tried both the espresso granita and pear sorbet. Both were almost worth the price of a plane ticket to Venice on their own. Heaven.

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