Vegans will not starve in Rio; soy milk is abundant and doesn't have that 'nutty' or rather cardboard-like taste most of the soy milk in Sydney has. Other vegan products such as veggie patties, nuggets and even soy cream are readily available at supermarkets. Soy is also added to certain fruit and vegetable juices, giving them an interesting creamy flavor.
There is a vegan-friendly chain store that has opened up across Rio called Green World which is both a café and grocer; there I even found the soy version of condensed milk.
Predominantly though, I rejoiced in all the fresh, unadulterated food that is bountiful in Rio.
The foundation for Brazilian food is rice and beans, which incidentally is vegan (of course mainly it’s due to it being economical). Black beans are the most widely consumed but my favourites were fradinho: black-eyed beans.
I also ate copious amounts of the best vegetable I have ever tasted called cenoura baroa, (white carrot is one of its many names in English) and all it requires is to be boiled; to my palate it has a light curry-like trace.
Instead of chips or wedges commonly a vegetable called aipim is served, which even when deep fried has a wholesome flavour, and when boiled requires no seasoning to taste fantastic.
Farofa (a grainy flour) is made from aipim and has various uses, it can be a condiment or a thickener; I certainly enjoyed its crunch.
Palmito was another vegetable I couldn't get enough of, this one having a naturally creamy flavour. It is known by many names, including heart of palm and is obtained from the core and buds of certain palm trees.
The most popular drink is derived from the fruit Guarana and it is made into both a soft drink and fruit juice. While the wine has a rich grape flavour and is very sweet, so it was my beverage of choice.
But of course the most widely guzzled alcoholic drink is Caipirinha, which consists of cachaça (a spirit), pureed fruit and sugar. It seems the people of Brazil like things sweet, an ideal place for me.
When I returned to Sydney I hungered for all the fresh produce and home cooking I had feasted on in Rio. It took me a while to get back to eating plain old raw cucumbers.
This was at a place in the city centre. It boasted the best lentils I have ever had in my entire life.
Paulo (Melissa's dad) and I enjoying a feed.