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Berlusconi goes vegetarian over animal welfare concerns

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Silvio Berlusconi has converted to vegetarianism. Photo: Tiziana Fabi/AFP
12:09 CET+01:00
Former Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi has adopted a vegetarian diet according to reports in the Italian media.

Berlusconi, who will be 80 in September, allegedly converted to vegetarianism after reading up on the meat industry.

The first indication of his new diet came last week during a meeting with regional co-ordinators from his Forza Italia Party.

"When I read about how animals suffer on their way to the slaughterhouse and death I no longer had any desire to eat meat," Corriere della Sera reported him as saying.

“We are talking about wonderful creatures – how can you kill and eat them?”

Billionaire Berlusconi has also communicated his decision to kitchen staff.

According to Corriere he recently told cooks at his plush Villa San Martino in Arcore, Lombardy - the scene of his infamous bunga bunga parties – that the menu had to change.

The leader reportedly implored them to find a way to make his much-loved pasta sauce according to a vegetarian recipe.

“We need to do something about ragu,” he said, adding that his cooks should "avoid making it with meat” from now on.

Berlusconi's new diet might mean his centre-right Forza Italia Party changes position on environmental issues.

Recently, the former leader surprised political analysts saying “the defence of animals and the environment are fundamental principles of the party” during a speech to endorse party candidate Stefano Parisi's election campaign for the Milan mayor's office.

In dedicating himself to a life without meat, Berlusconi joins a long list of political figures and celebrities to adopt a vegetarian lifestyle, which includes luminaries like Mahatma Gandhi, Paul McCartney and Tolstoy – but vegetarianism might not be enough to improve his reputation.

On Monday, an important youth movement of the Forza Italia party, Azzurra Libertà, announced that their 30,000 members were abandoning the party due to the negative influence of Berlusconi's scandal-ridden private life on their image.

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Whether a political choice or not, Berlusconi's decision makes him one of a growing number of people in Italy adopting a meat-free diet.

Data from a Eurispes study shows that eight percent of all Italians are vegetarian – a figure which has grown by 2.3 percent over the last year.
 

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