Friday, December 21, 2012

Travelogue - Sao Paulo Diaries - Vegetarian Survival Guide

Travelogue # 52 - Sao Paulo Diaries # 3 - Vegetarian Survival Guide

Brazil is a meat eating country and there is meat or meat derivatives in almost anything they eat.. So if you are a vegetarian.. and need to spend about 3 weeks in Sao Paulo.. How do you survive? Here is my story..

#1 - Take your food with you..Thoughtfully, Sita (my wife) had packed some snacks and MTR ready-to eat stuff.  But, I didn't have microwave oven access in the Hotels where I stayed so didn't get to enjoy pongal and kharabath halfway in to my trip.  Then, Sita gave a crucial tip that help me enjoy my first 'Indian' meal in two weeks.. The tip was very simple.. stop looking for microwave oven and instead fill the sink with hot water and dip the sealed the MTR goodies for 5 minutes.. and voila you got hot & tasty Indian food.  But then I had only two MTR packets and they lasted only 1 day.. even after rationing..:-)

 After landing here in Sao Paulo, the first Googling I did was to look for Indian Restaurants and found a few but none close to Hilton in Morumbi.

This place is convenient for commuting to work and does have a mall and food court.. but not many vegetarian choices and surprisingly no Starbucks either... !!!

#2 - Subway to rescue - The food court below does have some fancy restaurants.  But my savior is this small outlet in the name of Subway.

By now, I have a become a 'preferred' customer for this store.  That's what happens when you do breakfast, lunch and dinner in one place.

The young cheery workers at this Subway know exactly what I order.. Integral (whole wheat), Half (6 inches), Swiss cheese, Toast and all vegetables... Having observed these kids for umpteen number of times, I could seek employment at Subway and would be up to snuff rather quickly.

Last weekend, I did manage to locate that elusive Indian Restaurant at the nearby Morumbi Shopping Center.  After little bit of search, I found Ganesha Restaurant tucked away in the basement corner.

While Ganesha and the elephant statues were a welcome sign, the price was not.  It was going to cost me around USD 50 for a decent meal.. so I walked out.

If Ganesha wasn't affordable, Mcdonalds would definitely be and it was.. But encountered a different kind of problem.. and that was with the language.  Brazil speaks Portugese and that's it.  So, I resorted to sign language and attempted to order Mac-Burger with 'no meat' and my colleagues had told me I should ask for 'Sein Karne'.. which I did.

The person at the counter understood and took my order.  But the lady at the back assembling my burger did not.  I saw what was happening and told the counter guy and the lady simply 'removed' the patty from Burger and give the same one back to me.  After little bit of language struggle, I did get my 'vegetarian burger' sans meat.. but that was my last visit to a Mcdonalds in Brazil.

I did find my favorite Starbucks tucked away in a book store.. but didn't get to go.

Interestingly, there aren't that many Starbucks in Sao Paulo.  Beijing had them in almost every block.  Brazillians are proud of their coffee like our Kumbakonam degree kopi and have not been welcoming this American symbol.

# 3 - Go Buffet - Buffet seems to be popular in Brazil with a logical twist.  Take what you want and pay by weight.  This makes sense and incents you to take only what you plan to eat.  Hotel Saravana Bhavan tried it in their Peters Road branch but gave up.

#4 - Go Green - Find the nearest grocery store and go all 'natural', fruits & vegetables.. all green and all good.  But, get is boring very fast.. like after one meal.. :-(

Net net.. Vegetarians can survive in Sao Paulo.. unless of course you can't live without Indian Food... I am craving for it.. 


  1. Ram good write up. I have already asked Sita to learn few Gujarathi snacks which can last for 3-6 months. Let me know your next trip one week ahead and would prepare some and deliver.

  2. sien karne is without meat.. Karne is meat. I can totally understand what you went through.