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Allergies and Special Diets, Part Three: Vegetarian and Vegan

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Beyond Burger at ABC Commissary is vegan

Update: Since I wrote this, Disney has updated their policy. There are now plant based (no animal products) at most Disney owned restaurants. Look for the leaf icon! There is even a plant based page on the Walt Disney World Website. 

According to recent polls, it is estimated that about five percent of Americans are vegetarian, and up to half of those go one step further and are vegan. Even more Americans claim that they are either “mostly” or “sometimes” vegetarian or vegan. In my family, I’m a long time vegetarian, my daughter is as well and has a dairy allergy, and my husband is pescetarian, which means that he will eat seafood. This can make dining out difficult for us…but not at Walt Disney World.

Vegetarian dining at Walt Disney World is extremely easy. There is at least one meatless entree on most menus, and you don’t have to let anyone know ahead of time. If you don’t see the option, just ask. Sometimes they will be trying out new items so they’re not on the menu yet. If you’re making a reservation at a full service restaurant there is no reason to mark it. There will be something delicious that you can eat.

It’s a little more difficult if you’re vegan, but still not hard. With my daughter’s dairy allergy we usually eat vegan when we’re out because it’s easier for her. (We tend to share a lot.) When you make the reservation, hit “other” on Special Requests. When you check in, tell them that you’re vegan. If you’re really worried about it, you can email Special Diets, but I know several vegans and they don’t feel the need to do this.

If dining at a counter service restaurant, tell the Cast Member when you walk in the door that you’re vegan. He or she will inform you what your options are. You might be given an allergy friendly menu, but in my opinion that’s useless when eating plant based. Many of the vegetarian items can be modified, and some are already vegan. There are a few places where there is a vegan dish marked on the menu.

Many restaurants will have “plant based burger” listed on the menu. There is a good chance that it is Beyond Burger. Both Beyond and Impossible Burger are making inroads at Walt Disney World. They’re burgers that mimic the look, texture, and taste of meat. I personally love them. If you’re vegan, you’ll want to ask about the bun. If shared fryers are a problem for you, ask if it’s shared. There could be an alternative side, or you can order without a side dish and save a little bit of money.

When you’re in the mood for vegan pizza, you’re in luck. Many of the places that serve individual sized pizzas have dairy-free cheese, all that you need to do is ask. If they don’t have it they should still be able to make you something without cheese. If you want pizza with plenty of toppings and vegan cheese, head to Blaze Fast-Fire’d Pizza at Disney Springs. You can thank me later.

Three of the most popular snacks at Walt Disney World are vegan. You can enjoy Dole Whip (not swirl), Mickey Pretzels (no dipping sauce), and popcorn-stand Popcorn. The Maple Popcorn sold in Canada at Epcot is vegan as well.

If you’re at Epcot during a festival, some of the kiosks will have meatless options. The “V” on the menu stands for vegetarian, not vegan. There are usually a couple of vegan choices, but you’ll want to ask questions.

Two places need a special shout out. First, I mentioned that Trail’s End is a great place to dine if you have allergies. It turns out that a restaurant that specializes in BBQ is also fantastic for vegans. There are vegetarian options on the buffet, but little for vegans. The chef will create a multi-course meal for you that will leave you full and happy. Most nights it’s Chef TJ who will take care of you. He should be knighted.

The other place that you need to keep in mind is Erin McKenna’s Bakery NYC at Disney Springs. This bakery features donuts, cupcakes, cookies, and plenty of other delicious treats. They also have soft serve and can make milkshakes. Everything at Erin McKenna’s is vegan, gluten free, and kosher. You can sometimes find a few Erin McKenna’s products at other bakeries across Walt Disney World property.

If you’re still worried about vegetarian or vegan dining, check out Vegan Disney Food and Vegan Disney World. There is also an incredible Facebook group that caters to both vegetarians and vegans. Many people love to share their pictures, myself included. Expect to see a lot of pictures of Chef TJ.