I have always been an advocate that you can find healthy food anywhere. I tell people this all the time when they ask if I dine at restaurants or how I handle social events involving food. Boy, did my trip to Vegas prove me wrong.
I traveled to Vegas with hard-core meat and junk-food eating friends. Besides their affinity for foods I consider grotesquely inedible, I love these people and cherish them as my friends. They tried to please me in our restaurant choices and I figured there would be vegetable options on every restaurant’s menu, so I was initially pretty easy going about where we went to eat. I figured worst-case scenario, I could ask the chef to steam some vegetables for me. It would be no big deal, I thought.
Upon our first lunch outing, my friends chose a Japanese restaurant. I was famished and as such, agreed to eat wherever they desired. When I glanced at the menu, I was a happy girl. The menu was a treasure trove of vegan and vegetarian options, all which seemed as tasty as any home cooked meal. I ordered the Crispy Lettuce Rolls, which were to be filled with mushrooms and tofu. Can’t go wrong with that, right? Wrong.
When my meal arrived it looked delicious, so I eagerly took a big bite. What I tasted was pure salt. That’s what my meal was. Lettuce wrapped in salt. Much to my later regret, I continued to consume the meal because I was famished and as a salt-binge ingénue, didn’t comprehend the repercussions that eating this meal would entail. Throughout the day I felt perfectly fine, but by dinner time I no longer felt like my vibrant, healthy glowing self. I actually felt positively disgusting. I was bloated, very thirsty and uncomfortable in my own skin. In my state of physical lousiness, I began pondering how in the world other people could eat like this every single day and function normally. For dinner I was going to stay as far away from seasoned food as possible. My friends chose a Mexican restaurant with plentiful salad options. Okay, I figured I couldn’t go wrong with a salad.
I was proven wrong once more. I asked for Portobello mushrooms instead of chicken on my salad and when I bit into those mushrooms they were oozing with salt and vinegar. I couldn’t eat my side order of beans, which I had attempted and failed to order salt free (they were pre-prepared), because they also tasted like a mouth full of salt. Needless to say, I wasted my money on food I didn’t consume. Apart from one evening meal at the Wynn in which I custom ordered a vegan meal of steamed vegetables (I loved the meal and Steve Wynn for going vegan!), I could not find healthy food anywhere. It was a nutritarian nightmare. For lunch one day I ordered what appeared to be a healthy, grilled vegetable wrap, only to take a bite into a mouthful of grease. I couldn’t eat it. Just like the overflowing decorative opulence of many of the Vegas hotels, apparently all of the chefs at the Vegas restaurants assumed they should opulently season, sugar and grease their dishes.
My memories of the trip will be of the wonderful shows and places we went to, but I will also remember how bloated and disgusting I felt after eating salted food. I guess the moral of this story is to arrive on vacations better prepared. I was too naïve and didn’t realize until it was too late that you must assume all food in restaurants are loaded with salt. I should have known to ask for plain vegetables and salads with the dressing on the side. I should have known to travel with a stash of nuts and apples or other healthy options to curtail my hunger. My father would have been saying, “I told you so!” I learned my lesson. No more veggie junk-food hangovers for me!