When I left for spring break in NYC, I thought I would be able to maintain my vegan diet. Sure, I had to leave my plant-based protein powder, nuts, muesli, black rice, and other sources of vegan protein behind in my dorm room mini fridge, but wouldn’t a city as huge and diverse as NYC be able to cater to my diet?
Apparently, my mind and stomach did not agree on that.
Sure, there were restaurants that catered to vegans and a few restaurants served vegan options. But my mind was on spring break and all I wanted to do was let loose, eat good food, and have fun. F**k vegan-ism. After months of studying and freezing my a$$ off in Ithaca, I needed to enjoy my spring break.
My first dinner in NYC was really a disaster (from a vegan’s point of view, of course). I had chips with sour cream and onion dip, chicken liver mousse with poached quince and toast, and creamy cheesy gnocchi at ABV, a classy restaurant and wine bar on the Upper East Side. Couple a night of drinking to that meal, and you probably will not be surprised to hear that I felt like sh*t the next day.
After weeks and weeks of (pretty much) only vegan food, my body went into shock. My usual morning energy had completely disappeared, and my digestive system felt dirty…and stuck. I had to force myself out of bed and chugged a liter of water, hoping to clean and flush out my system.
I tried to return to my vegan diet that day, an endeavor that turned out to be both a success and a failure. For brunch, I had a frisee salad (with poached egg and bacon lardons, but at least I had a salad, right?) at Penrose, an Irish restaurant and bar. Dinner consisted of carrot dumplings (vegan!), vegetable rice (cooked with eggs, so vegetarian but close enough for spring break), and spiced tofu and cashews (vegan!) at Buddakan, a fine dining, Asian Fusion restaurant in Chelsea.
Maybe it was the sunny, relatively warm weather the next day, but I actually felt more energetic and less bloated the next day. “HALLELUJAH! I think my body can actually handle being non-vegan,” I thought to myself, which drove me to eat meatballs and ricotta bruschetta at Gelso & Grand, a rustic Italian restaurant in Little Italy, and a chicken quesadilla at Amigos, a Mexican restaurant near Columbia University. Bad idea. The bloated feels returned, and I felt abnormally tired and lazy.
And the Rest?
The next few days were filled with syrupy French toast, creamy chicken masala, meaty Spanish take-out, beefy cabbage rolls, authentic Indian curries, sushi, and a HUGE beef and bacon burger accompanied with a GIANT plate of fries from Jane, a modern European restaurant. Talk about going all-out.
Surprisingly, my body felt better each day, as it gradually adjusted to my spring break non-vegan diet, but my digestive tract still felt unclean and dysfunctional.
Well, seven days of being an omnivore has been enough. I am back in Ithaca and I am looking forward to eating plant-based foods, resetting my digestive system, and feeling energetic again. Despite my disastrous eating habits in NYC, I will not be restricting my diet or doing a post-spring break “cleanse”. Your body naturally returns to its usual weight after a week of regular eating. Besides, most of the weight you “gained” is most likely water weight from eating saltier foods or deviating from your usual diet.
So, in case you are like me, don’t worry that tank tops and shorts season is approaching. Once you return to your usual eating habits, your rocking bikini body will definitely reappear. My number one piece of advice? Drink a TON of water (literally).