New mayor wants to turn Turin into Italy's first 'vegan city'

Italy may be famous for its salami, but citizens of Turin will be encouraged to turn to vegetarian and vegan diets. Chiara Appendino, the new mayor of Turin has pledged this week to promote vegetarian and vegan diets as a “priority” during her administration.

Representing the Five Star Movement party (M5S), Appendino defeated the incumbent Democrat Piero Fassino in June and their 62-page manifesto detailing their vision for Turin was released this week.

It stated:

'The promotion of vegan (milk/egg-free) and vegetarian (meat-free) diets is a fundamental act in safeguarding our environment, the health of our citizens and the welfare of our animals.'

The programme, announced on Tuesday, continued:

'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,' 

The news was met with some protest on Twitter, where she faced accusations of attempting to create a nanny state. “If you disobey [the mayor’s agenda] in Turin you’ll go to bed without dinner”, said one tweet.

But veganism is undoubtedly gaining popularity in Turin with the city now boasting 30 vegetarian or vegan restaurants, most which have opened in the last few years. As people learn more about the appalling conditions animals endure for our plates more people are expected to adopt the vegan lifestyle.

“Foods like wild boar ragu and Chianina steak are already disappearing from the menu once famed for its meats, wines and cheeses,” Turin resident Elena Coda told English-language Italian news site The Local. “At the same time there are more and more vegan and vegetarian eateries”.

But Appendino could be underestimating the challenge they face in Turin. Last year, when the World Health Organisation (WHO) labelled cured meats such as ham, sausage and salami as carcinogenic, meat producers in Italy unsurprisingly railed against the classification, calling it “meat terrorism”. 

In spite of, or perhaps due to Turin's well-documented pollution problems, the inhabitants of Turin are fairly green-minded and the city is awash with organic farmers markets and eco-friendly supermarkets.

Each year since 2001 the council has funded a popular festival for vegetarians known as 'Vegfestival'.

“I'm not saying eating meat is bad or wrong, the information these initiatives are based on are from the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).” the new council's environment assessor, Stefania Giannuzzi stated.

Leading environment and nutrition advisers around the world have urged people of the importance of cutting their meat and dairy consumption.

In recent years a number of high-profile UN reports have revealed the devastating effects of meat consumption on our planet and our health.

In 2006, FAO reported that the meat and dairy industry is responsible for more greenhouse gas emissions each year than all of the world's transportation each year.

A more recent report released by the World Health Organisation last year suggested that the consumption of meat – and processed meats in particular – was strongly linked to the development of cancer.

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