The Daily Beet

24 Sep Adventures with Ami: Vacation Makeover

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I boarded a plane today for the first time in 9 months. It was significant because the last flight I took, was heading home from a wonderful vacation in San Francisco with my husband, Bill.  We had planned it for months.  One last hurrah before going from junk food vegetarians and sometimes vegans to starting the Engine 2 Diet.  We would begin on December 27th, 2011, just after returning home from our trip.

You see, we love to eat. LOVE it!  I mean who doesn’t right?  But we were a serious breed of eater.  We planned our vacations around food.  That’s right, the joy of finding amazing vegetarian food and superb coffee was the focus of many of our trips.  Sure there are landmarks along the way, historic buildings to feed my love of architecture, and the standard tourist attractions you’ll find in any locale.  But most people don’t pick their hotel based on it’s proximity to a well known vegan diner or a 4 star micro-lot coffee roaster.  From NYC to San Francisco, Chicago, Philadelphia, Atlanta and L.A., we ate our way across the country.  Fueled by shots of espresso, we consumed one decadent treat after the other on our adventures.

My vacation photos are of food, us and food, latte art, a Louis Sullivan designed building, vegan donuts, a sunset and alas, more food.  While knee deep in our adventures, it never really occurred to me that this may be odd behavior.  We were on vacation after all, isn’t kicking back and indulging what vacations were for?  I can point you in the direction of just about every indulgent vegetarian/vegan establishment from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

Thinking back about it now, I wonder what it looked like to other people?  We would come back 7 or 8 pounds heavier from a few days away, feel miserable, and spend the next month trying lose what we gained.  Several cities later in addition to every day bad habits led to serious issues.  Not to mention all the things we missed.  Museums, landmarks and the things that regular people do.

This has been on my mind recently when planning an upcoming trip.  The entire process is different.  I am no longer scouting for places to eat, as much as renting a place with a kitchen so I can cook good solid plant-strong food for us.  W e can make quick simple meals in a home/condo with a kitchen than we ever could alone.  Save money, save time + longer vacation! Sort of a no brainer.So much has changed since becoming plant-strong.  We rarely go out to eat.  We have come to love simple wholesome meals that we make at home.  At first I was a bit sad thinking about the loss of adventure in seeking out what had become a tradition, seeking out local vegetarian goodies.  There was comfort in the pursuit of decadence.We justified it by saying we were on vacation.  We told ourselves we deserved it.  Then felt bad about ourselves when we were done.

Doesn’t really sound like fun when I retell it.  It actually sounds sad.

I won’t feel sad though.  Instead I will rejoice in the new opportunities for culinary adventures yet to come.  Farmer’s markets to explore, sightseeing trips that don’t involve the pay off of greasy food.  A vacation that is easier to plan. Our menu is simple now, easy enough to pack a bag for lunch on a road trip. I don’t need a vacation any more to have great food.  I look forward to exploring a city with new eyes.

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Ami Mackey for Engine 2
Ami Mackey

Ami Mackey is the Curator of Creative Content at Engine 2. She is also a food coach at Engine 2 and has been plant-strong since 2011. When she isn't attending to all things Engine 2, she is the Program Director at St Louis All City Boxing a nonprofit youth program. She has earned certificates from eCornell in Plant-Based Nutrition & Fitness Nutrition from NASM.

  • Sara Mader
    Posted at 08:59h, 24 September

    I know the feeling. I have had too many vacations or even just weekends away where I come home and have to detox and diet from too many indulgences. I have been trying to do less of that but it is a process (for me). In a week I am going on a last minute trip to Italy and am really hoping I can make good choices so I am not feeling heavy and bloated when I return. My goal this week is to find the words and write them on a card “no meat”, “no dairy”, “no cheese” and “no oil” in italian. It’s a first step!

    • Penny T.
      Posted at 15:04h, 24 September

      You may be able to find farmers markets in Italy. We found one while we were there and discovered how Italians really make spaghetti sauce (with canned tomatoes and their own spices… which we found at the farmers market). We cooked our own dinners in Italy every night… it was fun and more economical, too. Have fun.

      • Ginger
        Posted at 20:07h, 24 September

        I make pasta sauce this way, too. Maybe that’s why my food tastes better than restaurant food.

  • Penny T.
    Posted at 15:25h, 24 September

    Great post. We do vacations with 4 kids so we typically rent a place with a kitchen. Vacations have never been about food for us because it would not have been affordable with 4 kids. We always bring our own food for breakfasts, often packed lunches and when possible (and reasonable) cooked dinners at home, as well. The joke with our kids is they need a vacation from our vacations. We just returned from Hilton Head Island where we biked one day for 13 miles.

  • Elana
    Posted at 16:00h, 24 September

    This is why I am afraid of traveling!!! It sucks that is it “us against the world” what makes it even harder is traveling with other people who want to be destructive purposely- and having to either sit at the table and watch them or not be able to even dine with them! Unless of course, fellow E2ers travel together!!!

  • Ginger
    Posted at 20:05h, 24 September

    At first I thought this was sad, too. But when I pay $20 dollars a plate for pasta that doesn’t taste as good as the stuff I make at home, I realize that was sad. I’ve always cooked at home, but now I’ve gotten over the idea that eating out is a treat.

  • Lisa
    Posted at 08:19h, 25 September

    I am going on a Hawaii cruise in a week or so. Have been plant strong since the middle of January. I am nervous about it. We are going with friends, I will be the only plant-strong person. Need some help for on the plane and on the ship.

  • Diet Atlanta
    Posted at 06:52h, 05 October

    That is great information.It’s really great post.

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