Vegan Under Lockdown: The Coronavirus Challenge In Italy

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It is no secret that Italy is experiencing one of the most difficult times after the second post-war period with the coronavirus challenge. Every form of social life is reasonably postponed, as well as many business transactions. These measures are meant not only to prevent the virus from spreading, but also to prevent overcrowding in hospitals, where many health professionals ‘have been working on 16-hour shifts since the 27th of February’, as the Italian headline La Stampa reports.

At a time when you cannot take life for granted, everyone is trying to stick to the rules established by the government, even though people know that this implies some sacrifices and many economical consequences. As it is easy to foresee, this emergency situation is affecting a lot of small ethical businesses around Italy and the rest of the world. But many of them are trying to reinvent their services to keep hope alive and help local people during this tough period.

Lockdown, self-isolation and fear: a vegan perspective

The respect for every form of life is the key point of vegan lifestyle and philosophy. For this reason, it is extremely important to take action and respect the rules, even if these may seem extreme at first, like the national lockdown in Italy. But once you see your loved ones being rejected by the hospital because there is no room, or the faces of nurses and doctors covered with wounds due to the use of face masks, you may reconsider these rules as a necessary response. In fact, you will probably seek further advice. If this is the case, here are some tips from a vegan under lockdown in Italy:

  • Try to avoid contacts with elderly people and those with chronic conditions, as the coronavirus may be fatal for them and anyone could be a health carrier.
  • Try to stay home, but also positive: stress can affect your immune system.
  • People living in the same building, even if in different flats, are planning their shopping trips so to avoid multiple displacements.
  • Inform people via the main social media that pets are not a source of infection: many animals are being abandoned because of ignorance.
  • Support local vegan businesses from home: during these days, many shops and restaurants offer home-delivery services.

If you already decided to self-isolate, and you are currently looking for some tips to while away this critical time, do not forget to:

  • Plan your future, especially your savings. This kind of activities needs time, and now you have plenty of it.
  • Never stop learning. There are many vegan topics that you can deepen, like the current alternatives to leather, the new fake-meats or how celebrities are contributing to the cause.
  • Spend more time with your pets. Yes, this is the right moment to stop for a cuddle.
  • Try the vegan recipes on your to-do list.

Speaking of food, remember not to panic buy, since such actions can lead to an unnecessary shortage. Even if you are afraid of running out of anything, consider the enormous waste of food that stockpiling may cause. In case you cannot go to your favorite beauty shop or vegan grocery-store, you can still call them and ask if home delivery is available. Many shops are adopting different solutions to overcome this difficult time.

How COVID-19 is affecting ethical business in Italy

Scrolling the social media feed of many Italian vegan and non-vegan activities, you can read the same words: ‘We are temporarily closed’. Many of them had decided to close down the shutters some days before the relevant decree-law entered into force, showing a great sense of social responsibility. However, this long time of inactivity is inevitably damaging – if not fatal – to small businesses, as reported by a recent investigation by Confederazione Nazionale Artigianato (national confederation of craft) in Italy. As already said, many shops and restaurants are providing out-of-the-ordinary services and discounts. ‘I  highly suggest to use all the digital tools available to keep in touch with customers and people who need our support’, said Manuel, the founder of the organic beauty shop Naso Botanico (Mantua, Italy). ‘I am currently offering tailor-made beauty advice via WhatsApp and the social media, with free shipping for every order. I want my clients to know that they are not alone’, he explains. Manuel also stressed the importance for small businesses to maintain their trustiness, as ‘it seems that many shops are taking advantage of fear over COVID-19 to sell overpriced hygiene products, a practice that is socially and ethically unacceptable’.

Valentina Nieddu
Valentina Nieddu
Valentina Nieddu is a Communication Specialist based in Italy. She graduated from the University of Modena and Reggio Emilia (Italy) in Languages for Communication in International Enterprises, with a case study about sustainable business in Europe. Valentina has been vegan since 2010, when she was only 15 years old. As a professional in the communication field, she has always tried to inform people about the reasons supporting the vegan choice, using reliable sources. In particular, she aims at telling stories about people giving their positive and personal contribution to the animal cause, so that they can inspire others. That is why she joined The Vegan Review in March 2020.