Definitions of vegetarian and vegan (Italy)

The terms “vegetarian” or “vegan” are not specifically regulated in Italy. As a result, many producers and/or con-sumer organisations have prepared internal guidelines, even proposing them to the European Commission as possi-ble standards for a future Regulation or Directive. It is understood that the terms “vegetarian” and “vegetarianism” (excluding all variants, such as lacto-ovo-vegetarianism, lacto-vegetarianism) generally refer to variants of a plant-based diet. Indeed, according to the most authoritative Italian dictionary, “vegetarian” is defined as “human nutri-tion limited to plant foods (or, in less radical forms, extended to some animal products such as eggs, milk and its de-rivatives)”. The term “vegan”, on the other hand, is mostly associated with the absence of substances of animal origin (eggs, milk, etc.). Without precise legal references to these terms, reference should be made to the regulation of voluntary information under the general principles of food labelling and advertising (particularly Article 7 and Arti-cle 36 of Regulation (EU) No. 1169/201), as well as the general principles of consumer legislation.

This is general information rather than legal advice and is current as of 30 May 2024. We recommend you contact a specialised food lawyer for legal advice for your particular circumstances to support commercial decisions which could impact your product or business.

Giorgio Rusconi