A few photos from a recent teensy-tiny mini break to Florence with my best friend Rach. And now for some home truths: it was the hardest place as a vegan that I've visited so far.
Obviously I was expecting to have to navigate around towers of ice cream and fresh egg pasta, and after nearly a year of veganism it always gets easier to say no, but somehow, when everyone around you is taking their food so refreshingly seriously, it was even more frustrating when I couldn't try what I'm sure would be some of the best produce in the world.
I guess it's an unsaid fact of being vegan, especially after more than 20 years of eating otherwise- it's not an overnight change, and sometimes, when taken out of your comfort zone, those die-hard convictions get harder to locate. It's something I've rarely heard any of my other vegan friends discuss, and yet I'm sure we all have weeks or holidays or even a bad Monday morning when it would be so much easier to not be vegan. No-one brings it up because no-one wants to admit that dramatically altering your entire lifestyle, whilst you believe it's the right thing to do, can also feel totally alienating and sometimes even isolating. When I started this blog I wanted to give an honest account of a vegan lifestyle, which is why I think it's also vital to deal with the reality of when being vegan isn't as easy as it should be.
You don't start hating cheese, eggs, or crème brûlée over night after deciding to change your diet- you just begin to stop thinking of it as the food you'll chose to consumer again. And I think it's that choice, and your reasons for making it, to keep a hold of. If you keep the facts, figures, reality, and more often than not- Ellen DeGeneres' voice in your head, you'll make it through.
So I ordered bruschetta and chamomile tea as main courses, and of course even this was done to perfection. I also chose pizza without cheese and just vegetable toppings, and a lot of olives and grapes to see me through the day. Just visiting the Mercato Centrale every morning was enough of a sensory overload- wheel barrows full of sundried tomatoes, the smell of porcini mushrooms heavy in the air. There are a few restaurants in Florence that specialise in vegan and vegetarian cooking, so if you're planning a visit soon I'd recommend giving those a try.
As for my trip? Well, I didn't get to eat my body weight in ice cream everyday like Rach, but I did get to drink a ton of out-of-this-world black coffee from every street-side kiosk I came across, and I came back more certain than ever of my convictions. And there's few things more important than that, right?