Sono italiana- I am Italian!
Ciao! Welcome to La Vegetariana.com. My name is Monica and I am La Vegetariana. I am the Italian vegetarian who has a passion for food, culture, and healthy living! Growing up in an Italian household taught me to appreciate food and family in more ways than one. The very goal of my site is to share my passion for Italian food and knowledge of vegetarian cooking, as well as ways to eat healthy and creatively.
La passione- The Passion
This might sound cliché, but ever since I was little I remember standing in the kitchen every night with my mom watching her cook dinner, helping her bread the chicken cutlets (back when I ate meat) and stirring the tomato sauce. The memories of my father tilling the garden to plant seeds and harvesting produce, helping my Nonna in Italy knead the dough to make bread, and cooking Sunday dinners together as a family- each one of these taught me how important food is and how special it is to have a home cooked meal.
My family always told me to focus on one thing in life and put your whole heart into it and I spent years trying to figure out just what that was and to this day I’m still developing that focus, but I know that it always comes back to food. I love to eat it. I love to cook it. I love to serve it. And most of all I love to reinvent it…When I’m in the kitchen it is my opportunity to create. I am free to do as I please and experiment with flavors and ingredients. To me, being in the kitchen is like an adventure. As an artist uses his palette to create a masterpiece, I use my ingredients to create my masterpiece- the only difference is mine is edible!
In 2005, I came across healthy living and dieting books that were floating around my house and I decided to read a few. For some reason there were many references to vegetarianism and veganism and living a natural, organic lifestyle. It was as if this whole lifestyle change was seeking me out and wanted me to do something with it. So I did. I stopped eating meats and I stopped eating dairy products. What possessed me to do is beyond me, especially because at the time I didn’t know half as much as I know now and I was so accustomed to eating sausage and mozzarella among other things, but I was determined to do it. My family was a bit worried and questioned me, but I was a stubborn teen who wanted to try something new. I continue to learn more about the veg life every day. The struggles of going vegan can still creep up once and awhile because it is an everyday commitment. I get my energy and vitality from making sure I am getting the proper nutrients and vitamins to support my body and that is where my cooking comes in. I make sure to cook balanced meals using fresh ingredients and food that will satisfy both the vegetarian/vegan AND Italian food lover.
Years passed and I was in college. In a tiny residence hall room that luckily had a kitchen. After thousands of trips to Whole Foods, I found myself buying tons of fresh fruits and veggies, organic and vegan foods and nothing but the best to make my meals. I figured the only way I was going to eat while in school was if I cooked most of my meals. I wasn’t going to sacrifice the flavor and quality of food- no way! I worked hard to make things happen and my creativity came into play. I began inviting friends over at all hours of the day to eat and I would have dinner parties with my fellow residents in the building. The amount of satisfaction I felt and continue to feel just by feeding people is enough to make me happy and content for a lifetime.
Viaggio in Italia!- Traveling in Italy
Not only did I see how much food influenced people’s lives in America, but I also saw it while studying abroad in Italy. I traveled back and forth to Italy to visit family and study in both Florence and Rome during the summer months. My time was spent learning the language and learning about the culture itself, but I’d like to think that my time was spent focusing on the food. I ate as many times a day as I could afford. From paninis to soy gelato I was trying it all…of course all that didn’t have meat or dairy. Surprisingly, I did not have much trouble finding foods to eat and it opened my eyes to see that Italian cuisine is actually quite vegetarian friendly. Sure the dishes will taste different without the meat or the cheese, but the staple dishes of the Italian diet don’t require them as much as people think. I was relieved and sure that there was no turning back- only a challenge and a lifelong journey to be LaVegetariana.
Here I am today. I have now returned to my original dream after having studied journalism for three years- my dream of becoming a chef, but now, after graduating culinary school, I consider myself more of a healthy foods chef. A chef that uses food not only to satisfy the palette but also to satisfy the body, mind and soul of an individual- a healing tool.
There is truly a plan for each of us and even if you’re not on one path from the beginning, there are always opportunities that come along to lead you onto another path…There is nothing that I regret because each day has brought me exactly what I needed to make me into who I am today and set me on this path to becoming La Vegetariana. As I always say, there is no right way to live, only different ways to do it. So come join me as I live the life of an Italian vegetarian who has the passion to show you just how you can prepare meals that we all know so well, but make them so that vegetarians and vegans can enjoy them as well!
E’ tempo di mangiare!
It’s time to eat!