For World Vegan Month, The Vegan Review is sharing the stories of vegans from 30 countries around the world. Here’s one from Italy.
Roberta Sannazzaro, 46 is a vegan food photographer and content creator from Italy.
She went vegan in 2014, and says the Italian word for ‘vegan’ is ‘vegano’.
Why did you go vegan?
Because I love animals of every kind, that was my main driving force. Then I came to understand how nutrition is fundamental for our wellbeing and how a vegan diet can greatly contribute to it. Moreover, doing something good for our planet is never a bad thing.
What was the biggest challenge when you transitioned?
I didn’t find the transition too challenging, since I was never a fan of meat or any animal derivatives. But probably — back when I transitioned — the offering of vegan options in restaurants or at friends’ homes was limited, so the social aspect was a tad more complicated.
What was the reaction of your loved ones when you went plant-based? How did they adapt?
It didn’t really come as a surprise to anybody and at home, it was easy to adapt. Also, as my vegan cooking improved, my dear ones also shifted towards a more plant-based eating habit. Nothing I have imposed, of course, I definitely support the freedom of choice.
Who are your influences?
Jonathan Safran Foer’s book Eating Animals has had a powerful influence. But I’ve also always followed the Buddhist philosophy, and Matthieu Ricard’s teachings on nutrition (amongst many other things) have been strong sources of inspiration.
What’s your favourite thing to cook now? Have you tried to veganise a local traditional dish?
The Italian culinary tradition has a vast offering of dishes that require minimal adaptations (if any) to make them vegan. My favourite dish is probably risotto with mushrooms.
What vegan product do you wish your country had available?
There’s really nothing I miss. Italy has an amazing selection of products.
How accessible and affordable are vegan products in your country?
The Italian biodiversity is wide, so a vast variety of products are both accessible and affordable. I’m very lucky in that sense.
What’s your favourite spot for vegan food in your city?
My home! I love cooking. Unfortunately, the number of vegan restaurants in my city — which is very small — is almost zero. I would need to travel to Milan, where you can find vegan restaurants with Michelin stars.
What is the one city you’d like to visit as a vegan?
I’ve travelled a lot and visited many vegan-friendly cities. Berlin is next on my list, since it has been named as one of the most vegan-friendly cities in the world.
What’s the biggest roadblock to veganism in your country?
The culinary tradition, one of the oldest in the world, which expects the vast majority of main dishes to be animal-based; cold cuts (ham, salami etc) and cheeses have always been extremely popular.