A new political dawn in the land of the meatball has brought with it a culinary awakening, with news that the new mayor of Turin wants it to become the first vegetarian city in Italy.
The populist Five Star Movement (M5S) was formed in 2009 by comedian Beppe Grillo and last month the party’s candidate for mayor took the top office in Turin. Chiara Appendino wasted no time in staking her colours to the mast, setting out in her manifesto last week her intentions to prioritise the promotion of meat free and vegan eating in the capital of the Piedmont region.
The new administration run by Appendino, 32, whose party is on the greener end of the political spectrum, believes that going meat free is of vital importance when it comes to human, environmental and animal welfare. As a result, schoolchildren in Turin will soon be learning how to eat with people and planet in mind, and will be growing up into adults who can spread the word still further.
“The promotion of vegan and vegetarian diets is a fundamental act in safeguarding the environment, people’s health and the welfare of our animals,” the new council said, detailing its five-year plan. “Leading medical, nutritional and political experts will help promote a culture of respect in our schools, teaching children how to eat well while protecting the earth and animal rights.”
Appendino’s councillor for the environment, Stefania Giannuzzi, a vegetarian of 20 years, was keen not to ruffle feathers, however: Piedmont’s culinary specialties are typically meat dishes.
While she said the council didn’t “want to cause the closure of artisanal shops or ruin the lives of people who have worked for years promoting the gastronomic heritage of Piedmont,” she was firm in her belief that promoting meat free eating was the ethical thing to do. “The fact that our choice of what to eat has an impact on the environment is not my opinion, it’s the opinion of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation,” she said.
A recent presentation about sustainable school catering in Turin suggested schools ought to be aiming to reduce meat-based meals by 50%, through measures such as cutting down on certain meats; introducing vegetarian meals twice a week; and offering alternative veggie meals if children ask for them. More than 45,000 meals a day are dished up to schoolchildren in Turin.
Italy’s fourth biggest city has a population of 870,000, many of whom already enjoy healthy and tasty meat free meals. Turin boasts 30 or so recently opened veggie and vegan restaurants, with the new council’s stance likely to encourage more enterprising meat free foodies to step up to the plate.