Many an individual has proclaimed that both Los Angeles and Portland are cities that run on veganism, but the Piedmontese city of Turin could very well make history for becoming the first truly vegan city in all of Italy.
Should Chiara Appendino—Turin's mayor and a member of the populist, Eurosceptic Five Star Movement—have her way, there's about to be way less brasato al barolo, finanziera, and vitello tonnato to be had in Turin.
In what is being called the first time in history that a local Italian government has included the advocacy of a plant-based diet in its political agenda, the newly appointed Appendino has made it known that she wishes for the city to go vegan.
Just this Tuesday, Appendino unveiled a five-year program that includes plans to drastically reduce the consumption of meat in the capital of Piedmont, a region bordering the Alps with an extremely rich and varied culinary tradition. "The promotion of vegan and vegetarian diets is a fundamental act in safeguarding our environment, the health of our citizens and the welfare of our animals," states the program.
Over the next five years, Appendino's newly formed council plans to prioritise educating the children of Turin on the environmental impact of meat production in the hopes that it will reduce consumption for future generations. "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," explains the program.
In a region as deeply steeped in meat-centric culinary practices as Piedmont, it would be a pretty major understatement to say that some of Turin's citizens are none too happy with Appendino's plan.
"Great foods like wild boar ragu and Chianina steak are already disappearing from the menu once famed for its meats, wines, and cheeses," resident Elena Coda told The Local. Coda went on to say that Turin is now home to roughly 30 vegan or vegetarian restaurants, most of which have only recently opened. "I'm not sure if the trend will continue and expect there will be an inevitable backlash sooner or later."
As reported by The Telegraph, one resident wrote the following on a local newspaper website: "Don't they have anything more urgent to worry about? Poor Torinesi." Another local stated, "Quinoa is revolting," while a third asked if there was "no limit to the madness?"
The debate over the merit of vegetarian and vegan diets has caused alarm and backlash in other parts of Italy as well. Earlier this month, a married vegan couple in Milan lost custody of their 14-month-old child after he was hospitalised and found to be severely malnourished.
Stefania Giannuzzi, the new environment assessor appointed by Appendino, told Corriere della Sera, "We have total respect for our food heritage, our restaurants and nothing against the meat industry. I'm a vegetarian and have been for 20 years. But in reality, this program isn't something I instigated—it's just an extension of schemes which have been in place for years."
Only time will tell if the tides are turning for Turin's traditionally meat-filled tables.