It's all because of a TV advert created by Motta, a company which has been churning out pannetone since 1919 and intended to celebrate Christmas culinary traditions in its festive ad campaign.
The 30-second clip (below) shows the preparation of the typical cake, and as eggs are cracked and dough kneaded, the voiceover says:
"To make our panettone, we could have used tofu, papaya, seitan, seaweed, and cooked it for 30 seconds in the microwave... But no! We made it by following our recipe, the original one since 1919. Since always."
But some vegan activists took exception to the light-hearted ad - which ended with the word 'Scherzo!' which means 'joke' or 'I'm joking'.
One YouTube commenter, Chiara Maiutto, described the campaign as "ridiculous and shameful" and said that it was "incredibly low" to make fun of people who choose an alternative diet.
She added thatsoon companies would have to create vegan panettone because "customers determine the market".
Italian vegan food blogger Carmen Luciano dedicated a post to the advert, criticizing the "ignorance" of the panettone producers by pointing out that tofu and seitan (wheat gluten) would not be suitable ingredients for a cake anyway, and that it would be "absurd" to cook a cake made of such products in the microwave.
She also pointed out the bad conditions suffered by many hens and cows, and said that this was "nothing to laugh about".
"Dear Motta, you can respect tradition without offending those who make healthy and cruelty-free choices."
But plenty of people saw the funny side to the advert, calling its creators "geniuses" and "heroes".
Photo: Julia Kilpatrick/Flickr