words by Belinda Mann
Rio de Janeiro is one of the sexiest cities in the world, and as the next host to the Olympic games, the perfect backdrop for those with hip and healthy agendas. Whether you’re into running, cycling, swimming, football, volleyball, rock climbing or surfing this city has it all on offer! It’s such a way of life here every Sunday the main street along the beaches is closed to cars to make way for crowds of locals to strut their stuff. But despite the body bearing beach lifestyle in Rio de Janeiro satisfying my health kick here has taken a little more investigative work than I originally thought. Many menus are meat heavy without a vegetable in sight. Fried foods are common place, pão de queijo (cheese and bread) is a snack bar staple and sugar is added to absolutely everything. But fear not of course this city has some healthy hangouts! However they tend to be frequented more by chic Cariocas (locals) in the know. To help you break away from the tourist crowd and slink your way into a healthy habit, we’ve singled out some of the best options. These won’t break your holiday budget either leaving your body and your wallet ready for bikini shopping – Brazilian style!
Rio is a sprawling metropolis but most visitors are drawn to the famous beaches in the south of the city (Zona Sul) Copacabana, Ipanema & Leblon.
Bio Carioca, Copacabana
With a mind body spirit mentality when it comes to food they have vegetarian, vegan and gluten free options. Pineapple and limao juice is a nice choice pre meal to aid digestion just ask for it without sugar. I love the assado de lentilhas (lentil nut roast) and the range of salads is good. Some of the non-vegan items can be a bit heavy on the cheese though. Sit down service with friendly waiters. A block back from Copcobana beach (between Post 4 & 5). http://www.biocarioca.com.br/
Delirio Tropical, Ipanema
Delirio Tropical in Ipanema has a great range of salads and vegetarian options. Just watch out for those with heavy dressings. There is a queue system by where you take a tray and move along a glass counter – great if your Portuguese isn’t up to scratch as you can point at what you want and you know exactly what you are getting when you order. I love the little bottles of house mate (the local ice tea). Located a block off the beach between posts 9 & 10. http://www.delirio.com.br/lojas_ipanema.html#
Post 11, Leblon
At the most upmarket end of Rio, Post 11 in Leblon is THE spot to be seen! Full of young, fashionable, beautiful cariocas. Nothing beats the simple unadulterated pleasure of a coconut on the beach here. After drinking the coconut water ask “você poderia cortar” for them to machete open the coconut so you can scoop out the nourishing flesh. To satisfy a bigger appetite walk a few blocks off the beach to Vegetariano Social Clube. They do a great buffet lunch of fresh salads and hot food for a fixed price. http://www.vegetarianosocialclube.com.br/cardapio_ingles.htm
Universo Organico, Leblon
If you are into raw food then Universo Organico is a must. A stones throw from Vegetariono Social Clube this little gem of a place tucked in the back of a Leblon shopping centre – it’s worth taking the effort to find. Raw food lasagne is great and they make smoothies using nut milk – something you’ll be very hard pressed to find anywhere else in Rio.
The most important tip I can give you to stay healthy in Rio is to learn the phrase “sem açúcar por favor” as the locals have very sweet teeth indeed, and add sugar to absolutely everything – including naturally sweet fruit juices.