Over the past decade, Brazil has become an ideal spot for vegans. While the traditional Brazilian diet never went along with vegetarianism or veganism (traditional meals include stews with pork and fish, and the most common Brazilian lunch involves rice and beans accompanied by a slab of beef), this has dramatically changed.
The number of vegetarians has almost doubled since 2011, and while there are no similar studies for veganism, the number of vegan restaurants and the availability of vegan products in supermarkets has seen a drastic and visible increase.
Really, this should come as no surprise. Brazilian cuisine is rich in fresh and exciting fruit and vegetables, so traditional vegan dishes have always existed, and the old carnivorous favorites have undergone simple adaptations to create a wide range of typically Brazilian vegan foods. With the vegan population growing every day, Brazil is full of great locations for vegan tourists, with restaurants, bars, and all sorts of services to cater to this increasing segment of the population.
Brazil’s biggest city is the place to go for any food lover. Along with Lima, it is regarded as the restaurant capital of South America, and its diverse, cosmopolitan population means there is always something for everyone, vegans included.
Recent years have seen tons of vegan restaurants and bars pop up across the city, and as São Paulo was where the Brazilian vegan wave really picked up steam, many of these eateries are already well-established and draw huge crowds throughout the week.
The vegan wave in São Paulo has gone beyond restaurants for lunch and dinner, with all sorts of specialized vegan establishments popping up all around. Vegan ice cream parlors, burger joints, sweet shops, anything you can think of. Vegans don't miss a thing in São Paulo.
What's more, vegan visitors no longer need to stick to special "niche" eateries, as all of the city's most renowned restaurants now offer a wide range of vegan dishes on their menus.
Campos do Jordão
If you're looking for a quick getaway from São Paulo, look no further than Campos do Jordão, the town tucked away in the Mantiqueira mountains, the so-called “Brazilian Alps”. It is a popular getaway for people all around Brazil’s south-east, as soon as the temperatures begin to drop. With charming chalets and cobbled streets, the town really does remind one of a Swiss village, and it is also home to the best-regarded vegan hotel in the country.
In the middle of town, you can find spots which serve no meat whatsoever, underlining their commitment to the environment by offering full vegan and vegetarian menus for all guests.
If you are at all aware of the typical cuisine in the southeastern state of Minas Gerais, you wouldn’t expect its capital Belo Horizonte to be a vegan food hotspot, but you’d be wrong. Food from Minas is typically stodgy and relies heavily on pork and cheese, but in Belo Horizonte, you don’t need to eat meat to enjoy the excellent local cuisine.
The super traditional cheese bread pão de queijo can be found in its vegan version, using yams in place of the cheese. The delicious leaves and fruits of the ora-pro-nóbis shrub, a classic component in Minas Gerais cuisine, can be used in some of the state's traditional dishes to replace meat.
As well as countless vegan restaurants, Belo Horizonte is also home to a vegan "butcher," who sells all sorts of burgers, cold cuts, and other proteins, none of which are made from meat.