Previously on Lazy Smurf’s Guide, I wrote about how easy (and incredibly delicious) it was to be vegan on the Ligurian coast and even in the tiny village of Apricale. Venice, with it’s many, many tourist restaurants, wasn’t quite as mind-blowingly scrumptious. Although there were more all-vegan places than other places I’d been in Italy, the random restaurants that I didn’t search out weren’t nearly as good (probably since they cater to non-discriminating vacationer with epic menus in four languages). Only 55,000 people live in Venice and about 60K show up every day to stare at ancient buildings and bridges and gondoliers. It was on my list of places that I needed to visit asap before it’s underwater and I’ve wanted to go ever since my second-grade teacher told me about it (the roads are made of water?). It already floods quite regularly, and they don’t do the sewage collection that I’m used to here so it can get a bit gross. But they have a, dare I say, ludicrous plan to deal with the water. Check out this video How Does Venice Work.
Despite the overwhelming amount of tourists, I still found the city just so magical. It was impossible to not walk around with your eyes wide and mouth hanging open. Every street is beautiful. Even the city bus -which isn’t a bus but a boat, the Vaporetto – is a delightful experience as you glide by all the ancient buildings. Seeing churches with sunken waterfilled basements, visiting the glassmaking island of Murano and the colorful island Burano after passing deserted islands that had cemeteries, or used to house monks or prisoners, or lepers were fascinating. We got lost every time we tried to find something but we found things we had no idea we were looking for. At night, the cruise ships and daytrippers all leave and the city feels empty and like you could be living in another time.
It’s much easier to eat vegan anywhere in Italy than just about wherever else I’ve been because you can nearly always get pasta marinara or pizza marinara & ask them to add vegetables to either. Even on the island of island of Torcello, which has more goats than people, the little restaurant had a vegan menu! The difference in Venice was they cater so heavily to tourists that they don’t put as much care into ingredients & preparation as other places in Italy. People mostly seemed to pick restaurants by the view & they generally had the same epic menu of every Italian dish you’ve ever heard of in 5 different languages. Generally, if a restaurant serves a ton of dishes that isn’t a good sign.
The traditional soup of Venice is Minestra de Pasta e Fagioi or Pasta and Beans Soup and I asked at a couple different places & it was always vegan so that’s a solid option.
For breakfast, inexplicably to me, vegan croissants are plentiful at coffee shops along with other vegan pastries and I had no trouble finding soy milk. Note that if you order at the counter it will be cheaper than if you sit at a table and get waited on. In most places, you pay when you are done eating at the register. Somehow they remember what everyone ordered even though they don’t write it down.
Grocery stores have a ton of vegan options & they are often marked with the little vegan symbol in English, often that will be the only English you see! Convenient! Overall things are pretty expensive in Venice since it’s an island so if you can score a place with a kitchen you will save a lot of money & won’t be missing out on amazing vegan restaurants all over. Then you can go out for wine or coffee at all the beautiful cafes on plazas everywhere.
There are gelato places on every street. Sometimes multiple gelato places on the same street on the same block! They usually have a fruity sorbet that’s vegan but you can also seek out delicious soy-based gelatos, check out Vegan in Brighton’s recommendations, that’s what I followed.
The number one must that you will hear from everyone is Pizzeria L’Angelo and it is no joke. If you go to one place in Venice make it be this one! If I could do my trip to Venice again I would just eat there every day even though it isn’t even a restaurant, but a counter where you just walk up and order. The downsides are that there is nowhere to sit, it’s takeout only, so many people were eating their pizza just leaning against the wall. Also, it’s really popular with locals so you might have to wait. You can get whole pizzas, slices, or paninis & omg do I recommend the latter if you are the kind of vegan that loves tons of meat, cheese, olives, and bread like me! I was in pizza heaven! It’s so tiny you can walk right by it. It’s actually easier to find when the gate is down because it’s closed. Then you just stand there, longingly wishing you had checked the hours. Finally, it isn’t all vegan which is nice when traveling with non-vegans because dragging them to vegan places in Italy is not easy! But they had multiple excellent vegan options.
Another all-vegan spot that I got to check out, La Tecia was all vegan and also delicious. The menu was all in Italian and there were some things I had never heard of (Arrosto di seitan) some things I’ve heard of all my life and was dying to try in Italy (Lasagna con ragu’ di seitan, Ravioli con seitan e funghi porcini, Tagliatelle di riso alla taillandese) and then some things that seem to be required at vegan restaurants (hummus, burgers). This chickpea pancake sounded like my obsession Farinata but it wasn’t quite the same. I wish I could have tried everything there!
I knew I was going to get Lasagna at Wine Bar Teamo which had an epic omni menu with a couple of vegan options on the last page. It was super dark so the picture isn’t great but definitely try lasagna while in Italy, it’s very different with super thin layered noodles.
Sometimes you will find that if you just ask you can find random vegan foods. I’d read on the Nomadic Vegan’s write-up of Venice that this amazing little bakery on the island of Burano had vegan cookies and so I marched right in and said…something in Italian…apparently I asked him if he was vegan (whoops) but the baker set me straight and told me all the products that he makes that don’t have any eggs, butter, or milk. I was in heaven on the ferry ride home munching on my sweets. BTW, it’s “Sono Vegana” if you want to say “I’m vegan” (feminine) or “Sono Vegano” (masculine). I don’t know what you do if you don’t use masculine and feminine pronouns but there is a trans gondolier you can support who probably knows how to make that happen.
I wish I would have gotten to spend more time in Venice, two and a half days was not nearly enough! I especially wanted to try the Crêperie I read about, Cocaeta – Non le solite Crêpes, but it was just too far away from where we were staying and I can only get my mom to go on so many ridiculous out of the way vegan excursions with me!
Here are some pictures from Venice and the islands Burano, Murano, and Torcello and there are more on my Flickr.
I have been to Venice, but it was a very long time ago and I was only a vegetarian then. I do remember that it was a magical, beautiful city. Glad to see there are some nice vegan options for if I do return!
You had me at “vegan croissants.”