If you are looking for vegan and vegetarian options in Rio de Janeiro, you must read the this post written by my journalist friend Lisa Molinari, who made Rio de Janeiro her home for quite some time, and become an expert in local food and Brazilian Culture.
Shall we meet for lunch in Rio?
Let’s go to a brazilian restaurant! Sure, I won’t take you to a table full of meat chops, T-bones and sausages… Of course, meat-based menus are very popular in Brazil, especially at the typical grill restaurants called churrasqueria.
Luckily for us, Rio de Janeiro’s gastronomic scene goes beyond that and the vegetarian trend is well established and in constant rise.
Why that? As well as supporting such ethical attitudes as animalism, more and more Cariocas (as people from Rio are called) pay lots of attention to their fitness and follow a healthy diet… Sun, surf and spreading love: we are in the Southern version of California, baby!
This is how we can explain the widespread success of healthy snack bars and food stores, all inspired by the colour of vegetables: green, or verde in Portuguese! If only you take a few steps downtown Rio, you’ll probably notice many branches of chains of shops called Mundo Verde, Via Verde or Cheiro Verde.
What is more, restaurants committed to ethical and healthy nutrition are an affordable and yummy alternative to traditional ones. Here follows my selection of favourites.
True to the Indian Yogi gastronomy but open to local ingredients, Govinda offers two types of daily menus, always different and combining delights such as curry potatoes with Amazonian cupuaçu fruit juice and a sweet cake made of tapioca (my favourite!).
– Just like a secret club, the Macrobiotic Association is located on the first floor of an office building where you’ll have to show your ID to enter, but once you get to the table you’ll experience a deliciously light feijoada (made of stewed beans), sauté couve (a local variety of cabbage) and other specialties which are strictly local.
– An ever-changing daily menu is typical of Chacara Vegana as well. Here you can enjoy tofu and nori seaweed rolls or a passion fruit mousse, all immersed in the atmosphere of an old country house, yet in the heart of vibrant Botafogo neighbourhood.
– In the same area, Rio Vegetariano delights passers-by with eggplant patties and soy cream, shytake mushroom dumplings and vegan burgers, all served among the stalls of the fruit and veg market called Cobal.
– Unbeatable is the choice of dishes and décor offered by the nearby restaurant Refeitorio Orgánico: 2 to 5 food combinations – in a growing price – or fixed odds for an unlimited buffet where to find the vegan version of acarajé bahiano (dumplings made of black eyed peas flour, filled with spicy vegan sauces), moqueca de banana (where banana is stewed in coconut cream), buckwheat noodles with shytake mushroom, mashed baroa potatoes (a golden-yellow, sweet and fragrant version of ordinary potato), inhame gnocchi (a local ‘potato’ with super detox powers). All these can be found on the two floors raising from a sheltered courtyard, far from the noise of the city. The décor is a plus: tibetan-styled buddha statues and sculptures of Brazilian mythological monsters (carirí), mandalas on the walls and colourful tiled floors…
It’s easy being a vegetarian like this!
Govinda, rua São José 86, Centro, Rio de Janeiro. Tel +55 (21) 2544-2636. Average price: 32 R$
Associação Macrobiotica, rua Embaixador Rágis de Oliveira 7, Centro, Rio de Janeiro. Tel. +55 (21) 2220-7585
Average price: 25 R$
Chacara Vegetariana, rua Hans Staden 30, Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro. Tel. +55 (21) 8799-7078.
Average price: 30 R$
Rio Vegetariano, rua Voluntários da Pátria 448, Mercado Cobal, Humaitá, Rio de Janeiro. Tel. +55 (21) 2527-7558.
Average price: 28 R$
Refeitorio Orgánico, rua dezenove de Fevereiro 120, Botafogo, Rio de Janeiro. Tel. +55 (21) 2537-0750.
Average price: 32 R$
PLS Note that prices reported in this article have slightly risen since the original post was written by Miss Tapioca, in her blog Tapioca&caffé – mostly about Rio de Janeiro, for Italian travelers.
Header picture is also courtesy of Refeitorio Organico