In a country famous for melt in the mouth mozzarella, salty cured cuts of meat, and creamy gelato, it can sometimes feel like Italy wasn’t made for those who follow a plant-based diet. This might have been true in the past; a culinary tour of the boot-shaped country would have been wasted on vegans, who would likely be forced to endure breadsticks dipped in balsamic and olive oil for the duration of their stay. However, with the ever-growing prevalence of vegetarian and vegan diets, a new breed of Italian chefs are reimagining old classics – and sometimes looking directly to their culinary history – to make sure these customers are catered to. This is very much true in the capital, where there is now a plethora of options for those avoiding animal products.
An acronym for “We Are Not Ingredients”, Wani Vegan Bakery is driven by its ethics and a desire to deliver high quality sweet treats to all eaters. Founded by three Italians who wanted to recreate the delightful pastries and cakes their country is famed for without any of the animal exploitation, Wani has fast become the best vegan bakery in Rome and one of the most impressive vegan bakeries in the world. Sustainability is at the heart of their ethos, but one thing they will never do is compromise on taste. The cupcakes are particularly famous for their delicious flavours and lighter than air texture, but the real stars of the show are the various cakes on offer, which can be bought by the slice (or, if you have enough time, commissioned and made for all of your celebratory needs). The space is also used for other activities and events the owners feel are compatible with their mission to save the Earth, most notably hosting a sharing library packed to the brim with vegan literature.
Part of the joy of Italian food is the celebration of fresh ingredients that have been locally sourced, and nowhere in the country shows this off better than Mercato Testaccio, a gigantic open-air market where many restaurateurs and even more Italian Nonnas get their produce. Tucked away in this monument to food is Stall 83, a vegan life preserver in a sea of butchers and cheese makers. The stall stocks a little bit of everything, but the artisanal “cheeses” are some of the best in the world. Moreover, the owner of the stall prepares and sells fresh, custom made sandwiches using local produce, so you won’t feel left out when surrounded by all of the other snacking market visitors. If you’re looking for vegan food in Rome, this is a must visit.
Vegan and vegetarian specialty restaurants are often dismissed as rustic or overly focused on ethos as opposed to taste and dining experience, but at this beautiful vegan friendly restaurant in Rome you won’t be left thinking that. Aside from stunning panoramic views of the Eternal city, Mater Terrae offers fine dining and an exquisite menu. Most dishes are vegetarian as opposed to vegan, but a majority of these can be made vegan at the diner’s request. The restaurant and hotel doesn’t like to be pigeonholed by the food it makes and is more than worthy of a visit from omnivores as well as plant-based eaters. Their take on an old Italian classic, La Norma, is astoundingly tasty, although so is everything else on the menu.
The raw vegan movement has been picking up steam in recent years thanks to a whole host of proponents, and with restaurants like Écru around it’s easy to see why its popularity has exploded. Situated ideally for those taking a trip to see the wonders of the Vatican, this artsy vegan restaurant in Rome serves up delicious, healthy food that won’t bust your wallet or your gut. Although there are a lot of Italian dishes on the menu, the raw rye bread sandwiches and burgers are the real showstoppers, delivering a tasty fare that’s both innovative and good for you.
Also located handily near the Vatican, this restaurant produces some of the best vegan food in Rome. Like a lot of others on this list, they pride themselves on their fresh, locally produced ingredients and dedication to Mediterranean traditions, whilst also providing a safe haven for those with food intolerances and allergies. Unlike some of the other restaurants mentioned here, Ma Va uses products like seitan and tofu to mock meat, so that more traditional dishes can be experienced without obvious substitutions. There are some vegetarian dishes, but these can be altered, making this one of the best vegan friendly restaurants in Rome. Their courgette carbonara is a favourite, and rightfully so; it’s visually appealing, creamy and tastes like nothing you’ve ever had before.
Whilst most people enjoy the delicacy and freshness of Italian food, sometimes you just want something deep fried to dig into. Here, Vegusta comes into its own, although in no way is it your average fast food place. The owners pride themselves on their artisanal recipes, developed in an almost scientific fashion to deliver the best of fast food with fewer of the negatives. Surprisingly healthy yet unquestionably rich and filling, this vegan restaurant in Rome is a bit out of the way compared to some of the others, but once you’re digging in you won’t care about the journey. The “Sloppy Joe” is both unique and tasty, especially when paired with one of the many craft beers they have on offer.
This small corner venue is one of the best vegan restaurants in Rome, and not just because of the tasty food on offer. Walking in almost feels like intruding on a family dinner, but the ambience soon takes you away to a place of relaxation and culinary delight. Le Bistrot offer vegan takes on Italian standards, and their entire menu is as delectable as it is visually appealing. However, it’s their desserts that are especially mouth-watering; their “vegamisu” tastes like the creamy Italian classic after dinner treat and shows that you can be vegan in Rome without missing out.
For a taste of the finer culinary delights that Rome has to offer, take a look at our pick of the best Michelin-starred restaurants in the Eternal City.
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