I split my time between the US and Rio de Janeiro. I’m also a vegetarian who’s sensitive to gluten. Eating in the US, especially in the New York area, is pretty darn easy for me, even with those restrictions. In Rio de Janeiro, it’s not so common and can be a bit more challenging to find stuff on the fly.
I put together a Google Map with a list of restaurants that I know to be both friendly to veggie and gluten free diets. Hopefully it’s helpful!
A few other resources:
- Mundo Verde is a great chain of health-food stores in the area. There’s almost always one nearby. They’re a bit pricey, but they do have a lot of specialty options. In more tourist-y, upscale areas, you may stumble across an Organomix. Also pricey, but they have even more options.
- VittaExpress is an online store with all gluten-free foods and drinks. While I’ve come across my share of gluten-free beers in larger, more tourist-y areas in Brazil, VittaExpress is where I buy mine. (Seriously, it’s kind of an important part of socializing here.) They also have cereals, cookies, ready-to-bake items, etc.
- GlutenFreebox is a subscription service for about USD$30 per month that includes a variety of gluten-free sample items. They usually include a variety of savory snacks, a couple sweets, some pastries, and mixes.
- Brazil has quite a few foods that are almost universally gluten free and also exceedingly common. Tapioca (a crepe-like dish made from, well, tapioca), pão de queijo, queijo coalho, and açai are all really easy to find. Skol Beats, a sparkling, flavored drink, is also gluten-free, as is your run-of-the-mill caipirinha if you want to enjoy on a night out.
- One thing to be aware of: a lot of chocolates include wheat, or are in contact with wheat, so always check the label. Likewise, for vegetarians, I’ve struggled to find protein bars that are both gluten-free and sans collagen. Again, read the label. Opti-bar is a good option and not nearly as expensive as some others.