The New York Diet

Kevin Powell of ‘The Real World’ Will Do a Shot If He’s Elected to Congress

“I love the fact that Cafe Habana is run by solar energy. I only eat the veggie burger.” Photo: Melissa Hom

When Kevin Powell left the first season of The Real World, he had to acclimate to the lack of MTV-comped meals and a constantly stocked refrigerator. “I was piecing meals together,” he tells us. A decade later, after publishing a few books (he appears in the just-published anthology Be a Father to Your Child), he’s running for Congress as a representative of the Fort Greene–Clinton Hill area. “I’m a very regular guy,” he tells us. “The only thing I’m a snot about is food and restaurants.” Powell shuns meat and dairy (he’s lactose intolerant), but that doesn’t mean, for the sake of campaign diplomacy, that he doesn’t sometimes down the occasional piece of chicken (never pork or beef). So could the staunch non-drinker be cajoled into pounding whiskey like Hillary did? Definitely not, he tells us, but he will say this much: “If I win this election, I will take a shot and I’ll say, ‘Thank you, Jesus!’”

Saturday, May 31
I was recovering from seeing Sex and the City on Friday — I liked it. I hadn’t seen a movie in six months. I went to Siggy’s in Brooklyn Heights, a vegetarian-vegan restaurant on Henry Street. They have the best breakfast. I had buckwheat pancakes with natural, organic syrup and a banana smoothie with soy milk and protein. For breakfast I usually have orange juice with apples and bananas. If I don’t have organic OJ in the house, I just drink water.

I was out and about around the campaign trail and ended up at Habana Outpost. I love the fact that it’s run by solar energy. I tend to go to restaurants that have healthy food or are green. I only eat the veggie burger there. The corn is popular, but it’s got butter on it so I’m not going to eat that sucker. I go to a holistic doctor, and he recommends things to get rid of and dairy was at the top of the list.

In the evening I went to an Indian restaurant, Amin. I tend to lean toward shrimp curry with rice and peas and lots of water. I take very seriously that drinking three to four gallons of water a week.

Sunday, June 1
I go to Emmanuel Baptist Church in Brooklyn every Sunday. This was my day off — I begged for it — so I didn’t really do anything. I made pancakes and vegetarian sausage and bacon.

I ended up at Rice later, one of my favorite restaurants. I always get shrimp dim sum, and I always have either pad Thai or tofu or Indian curry with tofu and shrimp. I lean toward shrimp a lot.

I tend to eat two meals a day instead of three. If I have breakfast and dinner or lunch and dinner, I’m pretty good. And I try not to eat after 9 p.m.

Monday, June 2
Back to the torture of the campaign. Monday through Fridays I do fund-raising calls from noon to 5 p.m. in Manhattan. We tend to order in a lot because I’m forbidden from leaving the office. My campaign-finance director, who’s 20, told me, “I’ve never eaten as much Indian food in my life as I’ve had with you.” It’s been Indian, Indian, Indian. I like to go to Baluchi’s off of Chambers.

Tuesday, June 3
There’s a petition season that began on Tuesday where you have to get 1,000 signatures by July. For the next month I’m up at 5 a.m., and then I’m at subway stations starving. I really paid attention to what Hillary and Barack have said about your diet suffering on the campaign — it’s really true. I had my volunteers going to vegan restaurants and stuff, and they’re like, “What is this? It’s like eating rubber. This is not real chicken or real ribs — why do you have us here?”

I had a tiny soup — I don’t even think I had a full meal.

I was in East New York petitioning, and when it was over, I had the adrenaline rushing because I was meeting a lot of voters. I grabbed a falafel. That’s something I eat a lot of. I’ll eat a falafel and grab a bag of soy chips from the market, and my fruit, and I end up falling asleep with all that stuff in my bed. It’s not a pretty sight. I’m a bachelor in New York — sometimes I wake up and there’s a bag of barbecue soy chips laying in the bed next to me, and I’m like, “Ah, breakfast.”

Wednesday, June 4
I woke up feeling like I had the flu. I worked at home, had some fruit for breakfast, and then went into the office.

We went to a dim sum place called Golden Unicorn on East Broadway. We met with a huge potential donor to our campaign. It was so much food, but for three people it only was like $43. It was amazing.

I was at a community meeting from 8 p.m. to midnight. I was starving, so I stopped at a 24-hour organic market in Fort Greene and ordered soy pizza and I devoured it when I got home. I’m trying to kick that soy-pizza habit — you think you’re eating healthy, but you’re still eating pizza.

Thursday, June 5
We had to go to an old-school diner in East New York (the Galaxy Café at the corner of Pennsylvania and Lyndon) to have a breakfast meeting with Councilman Charles Barron who’s supporting our campaign. It’s a nice place. There are people who look like they live there — it’s like they work in shifts. I looked at the menu and thought, I don’t think the word vegetarian is going to apply to this. It was like grease and grease and grease — the only thing I could eat was the corn muffin, and even that was greasy. I was feeling kind of queasy the rest of the day.

Kevin Powell of ‘The Real World’ Will Do a Shot If He’s Elected to