Inside Turin's Quest to Become a Vegetarian City

Marco Saracco
By Gillie Houston Posted December 12, 2016

There are now 30 completely meat-free restaurants in Turin.

Earlier this year, the mayor of Turin, Italy announced an ambitious undertaking: turning the historically meat-loving region into the most vegetarian city in the country.

Despite Turin's location in Piedmont, a region renowned for their carnivorous cuisine—from blood sausage to salami—the newly elected mayor, Chiara Appendino, felt passionate about converting the city into a hub for world-class vegetarian and vegan cuisine. In July, Appendino presented a five-year plan for reducing meat consumption while spreading the health and environmental benefits of a meat-free lifestyle.

While Appendino's plan stated that "the promotion of vegan and vegetarian diets is a fundamental act in guarding the environment, people's health and welfare of our animals," the anti-meat agenda drew its fair share of criticism and blowback from the citizens of the Italian town.

Despite any initial ambivalence, since the announcement of this initiative, Turin's vegetarian dining scene has grown steadily. Recently, The Guardian's Katie Forster visited the Northern Italian destination to check in on the veg-friendly mission. According to Foster, there are now 30 completely meat-free restaurants in Turin, and many traditional chefs are embracing a new way of thinking about their cuisine.

Antonio Chiodi Latini, a high-end chef known within the city's dining scene for elaborate dishes of seafood and raw beef, recently embarked on a new animal product-free pop-up project. Latini, who became vegan himself three years ago due to health concerns, opened the restaurant, Chiodi Latini New Food, as a means of showcasing how delicious vegan dishes can be.

In addition to Latini's pop-up, there are a number of vegetarian and vegan cafes and delis lining the streets of Piedmont, providing a reprieve in a region known for traditional dishes like bollito misto — a stew made with boiled veal, beef, and chicken. Deputy mayor Stefania Giannuzzi says the quantity of vegetarian-friendly restaurants in such a small city "is possibly the highest number in Italy," putting Turin on the narrow path to becoming the meat-free haven Appendino envisioned.

While many skeptics are sure to remain in the northern town, Latini says convincing people to try his modern way of cooking has had its own rewards: "People want to try new things, and spend an evening eating food that makes them feel good with their own body and soul."

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