90% Vegan

Melina Wilcox
Art Major
Studio Art College International, Spring 2018

Before leaving to study abroad in Italy, I’d been a dedicated vegan for nearly half a year. I decided that once I arrived in Italy, I would give up the lifestyle and introduce eggs and dairy back into my diet—never meat though, that is a non-starter for me. I knew that I wouldn’t wasn’t to miss out on the food here, because food is such a huge element of the culture in Italy. Pizza, pasta, cappuccino, pastries, Nutella.

It’s also very difficult to eat out as a vegan, much more so in Italy than in the States. In Kalamazoo, there are a handful of restaurants I frequent with reliable, delicious vegan sections on their menus, and most other places have at least one option that I can order. In Florence, there is only one sandwich shop I’ve found with a clear vegan option. Thank you forever, Pino’s.

the Sant’Ambrogio market

Meat and cheese is just such a massive part of the food culture here. There are restaurants here that don’t even have a vegetarian option for me to eat. Veganism is inaccessible.

I’ve gone back to cooking vegan at my apartment, after spending the first couple months buying cheese and eggs because I gave myself option to do so. But veganism is a way of eating that I prefer. I save my breaks for eating out with friends or going for cappuccino between classes.

I’ve even had to change the way I cook for myself while I’ve been in Italy. My vegan staples in the States – quinoa, chia seeds, hummus, tahini, plant protein – are nearly impossible to find in the small neighborhood groceries we shop at. On the plus side though, I have more access to local, farm-fresh produce here than I did in Kalamazoo. Every few days I stop by the Sant’Ambrogio market, a gorgeous daily farmers market, to pick up the majority of my food.

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