Monday, January 5, 2015

A little late, but here it is!

I’ve been incredibly busy since we returned from Disney World in November, but I still want to share what I found with those who are heading down there soon. This post won’t be quite as long and in depth as normal, but I hope it will still be helpful.

Gasparilla Island Grill 

We always start at Gasparilla Grill at the Grand Floridian. Their menu changes frequently so every year there’s something new to try. This is one of the most vegan-friendly counter services around, so I absolutely recommend trying to work it in at some point. 

For starters, they carry Gardein chick’n and So Delicious Coconut Milk ice cream! But this year I opted to try something new. They will make upon request (it’s not on their menu, but I think it might be next door at the Grand Floridian Café,) a nice falafel burger. It appears to be a homemade mixture that they form into a patty. They also have a special on Saturdays of small falafel on pita. Normally the burger comes on a brioche roll which of course isn’t vegan, so the chef swapped it out for this one. 

The bun is spread with hummus and tahini, and adorned with red onion, lettuce and tomato. I asked for a side of their cucumber salad that I've had in the past. All in all, a satisfying and tasty meal. I will say, the inside of the burger is a little soft and mushy, which might be due to the thickness of the patty.  I would still order it again. A promising way to start the trip! 

Coconut Milk ice cream! 

Also worth mentioning is the fact that Gasparilla brings in fantastic light rye and French white bread from Olde Hearth Breads, a small local outfit who sells their bread primarily at farmers markets and local restaurants. Both of those breads are vegan and so good my mom wanted to order a loaf to bring home. (I'm pretty certain that Gasparilla is the only restaurant on Disney property to carry it, but it would be nice if I'm wrong.)

If you’re looking for a snack to bring into the parks, this is the only place on property where I’ve found Larabars and Go Raw Live vegan granola bars! (If you’re on the dining plan, you can use one of your snacks for these too!)

Spirit of Aloha Luau 

Not much different here. The new slaw is not vegan so they gave me the old school salad with mango dressing, (my preference over slaw anyhow). Since I can't eat their bread, they were nice enough to bring in some of the Olde Hearth French bread from Gasparilla for my mom and me.

For the entrée they gave me rice instead of couscous (don’t know why this was different, but no complaints). The one thing I was disappointed with was that the tofu wasn’t grilled as much as normal, but it was still a stellar stir fry that was maybe the best I’ve had there.  For the past few months I’ve experienced intermittent cravings for those smoky grilled veggies. 

For those beer drinkers out there, the Yeungling Lager which is included with your meal is, according to, vegan. And it’s pretty tasty too! (And considering they sell it for around $7.00 a can elsewhere in the parks, a virtual steal at the Luau.)


Sadly the F&W Festival is over, so this information won’t be useful to anyone now, but I did try the crabless cakes which I really enjoyed, (and plan to make one of these days...). and the blackened chicken which I was somewhat less enthused about. For me, the chocolate orange cupcake was the best of the three offerings. 

 Crabless Cake

Blackened Chick'n

I also tried the gluten free beer, which honestly, was in no way deserving of the name. It was flat, weak and lacking any discernible zing or depth. Once was more than enough.

Sunshine Seasons

As always, a great stop for the hungry vegan. The Mongolian “beef” is still made with the Gardein Beef Tips. Their noodles are also vegan, so if you want a change of a pace from the rice, have at it! I believe their soup choices change periodically, but if you're lucky you'll be there on a day when they have vegetable soup. It’s always vegan and quite hearty by itself with a satisfying mix of beans and veggies. 

First meal

Second meal

They also carry Odwalla bars – I’d never had them before so I picked up a protein bar. It’s very… proteiny… Kind of grainy with that awful soy protein texture. They carry a second flavor without the added protein that I didn’t try. I’m assuming it’s probably more palatable. Maybe I’ll be brave and give it a go next year.  

Coral Reef

Coral Reef still has the wonderful Gardein chicken dish on the menu that’s entirely vegan as is. It’s a heavy meal consisting of portabellos, red onions, red peppers, zucchini, yellow squash, yellow tomatoes, black rice, pine nuts and eggplant. (And of course the breaded Gardein Chick’n patties.) I’ve seen other people post their pics and it seems that each chef must make it differently, which might account for why some seem to love it while others pan it heavily. 

They also carry So Delicious Coconut ice cream for dessert!

Columbia Harbor House

The chili is still vegan (like always though, ask for it without crackers since they contain dairy). Chef Stephen hooked us up at all the Magic Kingdom restaurants we ate at this year, so some of my food was not offered on the menu. He made me a nice hearty salad which I believe is just their Harvest Salad, sans chicken.

Plaza Restaurant

Beware that most of the breads here are not fully vegan. The gluten free bread contains egg. The keyser roll and the rye both contain L-Cystein, and the sub roll might be okay, but it has something called “car sorrento 6”. (I’m still trying to trying to determine whether this is vegan or not, but either way it sounds like the codename for a biological warfare agent that gets accidentally loosed on a major metropolis, turning the citizenry into drooling cheese-craving zombies…)

The multigrain bread is clean, so my only option was to plunk an undersized veggie burger on the giant slices. Not the best burger I've had at WDW, and not worth a special trip, but nice to know they’ll do it if you happen to be there with other non-vegan family members. Chef Stephen was kind enough to bring in sides of the beet and plantain salads from Crystal Palace special, so I was content.

 There's a veggie burger in there somewhere, I swear!

Even better, though, their baker Chrissie (not sure if I spelled her name right, but she's awesome!) baked me a bunch of from-scratch vegan pumpkin cookies! Soft and spongy, caramely and super sweet! Chef Stephen kept them on hand so I had them for dessert at all the restaurants we met him in. (Only in Disney...)


Still very vegan friendly. Unfortunately the samosas and tofu are still cooked in the same fryer as the chicken tenders and corn dogs, so if you really want them, ask a chef and they’ll cook a batch special. I didn’t bother this year because there was plenty of other stuff to eat. Though they weren’t my favorite, I should mention that the Garam Masala and Coconut Curry salad dressings are both vegan. Eating actual salad dressing was a treat even if I didn't love them.

Mr. Kamal’s Cart

I stopped here this year because I really wanted to try something (every other year I’m so full from Tusker that I can't bear the thought of stuffing anything more in before dinner). I perused their ingredients only to find that the bread for the falafel contains L-Cystein. This means that the only completely vegan menu item is the noodle salad, which as luck would have it, was sold out by the time I got there! Oh well, that’s why they make next years.

And I think everyone knows this by now, but the Allergy Kiosk carries Babycakes donuts (chocolate-coated and cinnamon) and a small variety pack of mini cupcakes. I bought quite a few of the donuts, but somehow never snapped any pictures of them. I guess they didn't last long enough. 

Be Our Guest

Gotta say, from the décor to the food, I really love this restaurant. We’ve only done it for counter service, but it’s so nice I have no particular desire to slash and gnaw at the competition to score one of the ultra-coveted dinner reservations. We ate there twice this trip (like always), and I got the same thing both times.

The quinoa salad and dressing is still vegan. As is the raspberry sorbet for dessert. 

The big revelation this year was that their French onion soup is vegan, except for the cheese. So when I spoke to a chef ahead, I asked if they could possibly bring in some vegan cheese from another restaurant. And they did! The chef apologized that all they could get was American. (It was either Toffuti for Go Veggie, I’m not sure.) Either way, it tasted sufficiently cheesy and totally served the purpose. 

I'll admit, I’ve never had “real” French onion soup, so I have nothing to compare this to. That said, I enjoyed it enough to order it twice. Oh, and if you’re on the regular dining plan, you can use a snack for a soup and a counter service for the rest of the meal.

 First meal

Closeup on the first soup 
(Maybe a tad too much cheese, but I'm not one to complain about such things!)

 Second Meal

 Second soup
(Note the more even cheese-to-soup ratio and improved browning. Lovely.)

View of the internals

Farmers Market at Liberty Square

They now carry big bags of Lundberg Rice Chips, a couple flavors of which are vegan and organic. I didn’t actually buy any, but the cast member told us that we could use a dining plan snack for a bag, which if it’s true, is pretty phenomenal. I believe they charge considerably more for them at the Allergy Kiosk in the Animal Kingdom. 

Cosmic Ray’s Starlight Café

We ate here twice. The first time I got the standard veggie burger and fries. (They cook the fries in a dedicated fryer, so no worries of cross-contamination.) 

Beware here too about the new change in rolls. The regular burger bun is not vegan. The GNI gluten free roll is okay. However their other gluten free rolls, Gold Star and Udi’s, both contain egg! 

On the topping bar, the onions and mushrooms contain artificial butter flavor, which is presumably… artificial. However they’re cooked on the same stovetop as chicken. If you really want them, they can make them in the back special. They weren’t worth it to me.

There's a veggie burger in there somewhere... I swear! 

The second time I didn’t really feel like another burger, so I mentioned it to Chef Stephen ahead of time. Being the amazing guy that he is, he whipped up this salad for me with grilled mushrooms and peppers. Awesome!

(And of course a big plate of those cookies for dessert!)

Tangerine Café

We got a lot of special treatment on this trip, and I won’t lie, I totally enjoyed it. We ate at Tangerine Café twice and Chef Samad hooked me up each time. (Though there was a bread issue with the first meal.) 

To clarify, as of November anyway, the veg platter was totally vegan (the mayo in the lentil salad has been replaced by oil), but the falafel are still fried in the same oil as chicken. (I’ve read recently on the Veg Disney page that some people have been told that the falafel now contain dairy. Things change quickly in the World, so I always ask to be safe.) As I was clarifying this with the chef, he asked if I would just like some salads from Restaurant Marrakesh. Of course I readily accepted! 

He brought me out this huge plate with all the great apps and sides from the big restaurant next door. The bread he assured me was vegan, though I did get to check the package the next time and found it contained L-Cystein like so many other bread products down there.

 First meal with the offending bread and hot mint tea. Stay away from this bread.
(Note the unintentional hidden Mickey... I swear I didn't do that on purpose.)

The second time I got the same meal, but was given the whole wheat bread (which I believe came from Spice Road) and which I was assured was vegan. I took it on faith as there was no package to check. It was coarse and a bit dry, so I suspect it was L-Cystein free.

Second meal

 Whole wheat bread (supposedly safe)

Chefs de France

I always love this restaurant. Again Chef Lauren came through with a stunning dish of asparagus, grilled zucchini and baby zucchini, carrots, sliced tomatoes with a balsamic drizzle, the buttery-est organic spinach I’ve ever had (I actually asked the server to verify that there was no actual butter in it. The chef returned to assure me it was just olive oil, but seriously, it was probably the best spinach I’ve ever eaten), and a pepper stuffed with a fantastic ratatouille.

I regret that my picture doesn't come close to doing justice to this gorgeous plate.
People at other tables were staring at it trying to figure out what I'd ordered. 

For dessert, three different sorbets and berries. As always, my favorite is coconut, but the others were beautiful as well.


Finally I was able to try the great and much lauded Sanaa! And since this was my first time, I overate to the point of illness. Not since a Chef Tj meal have I left a restaurant that violently stuffed and remorseful over my indulgence.

I started the meal with the Chana Tiki – light, flavorful, a tiny plate… All is well here. I could do this all night! 

Cue the bread sampler with 9 chutneys/sauces/pickles. Yikes. The bread is not vegan, but at least they have chips for those who are more compassionately-inclined. I’m pretty sure they use the Flamous brand falafel chips because I buy them at home and they taste identical. I only ate roughly half of each bowl and took the rest back to the room. Feeling full, but it’s still doable. This is my extremely belated birthday meal after all. I can do this! 

Cue the entrée. I tried the Vegetables and Chickpeas with Goan Curry Sauce and the Vegetable Wat along with the basmati rice. I really liked the curry, but loved the Vegetable Wat. It reminded me strongly of the Baingan Bharta from a local Indian restaurant I used to order from frequently. The portion size isn't enormous but more than sufficient, especially with an appetizer.

At the point of bursting, I proceeded to order an ill-advised dessert. Dessert takes the fullness away after all…  They’ve cut down on the vegan menu’s dessert options, but the Tapioca Pudding with Chai Spiced Berries from the regular menu uses coconut milk and is vegan. I definitely enjoyed it, though I would have liked more of the chai spice to come through. 

I was at my breaking point. It was a treat, but I didn’t feel right for the rest of the night, and though I can’t definitively say that it was from having seriously overtaxed my system, I actually ended up sick for the rest of the trip. I will be skipping at least one of the apps next time I go.

Hollywood and Vine

I was so sick the next day at Hollywood Studios that I really couldn't eat much. I skipped lunch altogether, opting instead to pick at a Mickey Pretzel. (Having also found out that the cinnamon Mickey pretzels I used to love now contain an artificial butter flavor that always worries me. It might be vegan, but I don't really know.) 

For dinner I still wasn't game for much. The chef was super accommodating and made me a vanilla shake (that just didn't sit right either... sad since I'd been looking forward to it all trip. Not his fault, just wasn't feeling it). They have Toffuti and Rice Dream ice creams and Soy or Rice milk, so you can mix and match to figure out the optimal combination.

I asked for plain pasta with spinach and mushrooms for a little nutrition. There's something soothing about plain pasta when you feel like trash. It hit the spot and made me feel considerably improved. 

My convalescent meal

Artisans de Glaces

This is always a treat, even though the sorbets are totally artificial and nothing but horrifying chemicals I would never consider consuming at home. But they have vegan cones! According to the box I scanned to read the ingredients, they’re made by Keebler. So much for French artisans…  I got mixed berry once and mango the second time.

One caveat, though. I noticed the last time that they actually use the same scoop for the different ice creams and just dunk it in a bucket of water to clean it between scoops. I found a small streak of chocolate water on the outside of my mango scoop, so I went around with a spoon and scraped off the whole outer layer before eating it. Yick.

While we’re talking about decadent treats that will slowly kill us from the inside, I had heard so many great tales of the vegan beignets at Port Orleans Riverside that I had to make a special trip down there one night to try them for myself. Gearing up for the impending onslaught of grease-laden dough, I nearly ran to Sassagoula to scope out the window from which to order the horrifying confections. 

I asked the first girl I saw behind the counter about their vegan beignets and was met with a fairly blank stare… never a good sign. 

She retrieved the chef for me, who I have to stay was extremely pleasant and forthcoming. His news, on the other hand, was none-too-welcome. He said that people on the internet say they have vegan beignets but that Disney doesn’t claim they're vegan. To be clear, the ingredients are, but they’re cooked in the same oil as chicken. Again, yick. 

The chef said that if he’d just changed the oil it would be fine, but being late at night, it was well sullied. I appreciate that he didn’t hide that from me just to sell a batch, and that he was aware enough of what matters to a vegan to even mention it at all! A lot of chefs don’t even think about cross-contamination when it comes to animal products that aren’t an actual allergy. 

Sad, but resigned, I asked if maybe they had the coconut ice cream that's starting to pop up around the parks. It turns out that they had actually brought in a few pints for a special order, but that there'd been an issue with the cooler and they’d all melted. 

I got back on the bus, no fatter than when I’d arrived.

Chef Mickey

Their buffet and salad bar both leave a lot to be desired for vegans. Literally all you can get for a salad is the lettuce. 

The chef was awesome though. He whipped me up a special meal of tofu and quinoa with mixed vegetables in a delicious tomato sauce. I thoroughly enjoyed it.

They are also carry So Delicious Coconut ice cream and blueberries.

The Wave

I’m disappointed to report that The Wave was one of my least favorite meals this trip. I ordered the vegan curry that’s on the menu. It seemed to be about half the portion size of last year, which is fine since it’s extremely rich. I had to take half of it home last time, so I understand why they cut back. The problem is that the tofu is mushy and bland, and the dish as a whole could deal with more spice, acid, or heat. Even some cilantro would help cut the richness. The tart apples help, but overall it doesn't feel balanced. The rice and lentil blend is a decent accompaniment. I don’t think we’ll be returning there.

Even though I was lukewarm on the entrée I was comforting myself with thoughts of their amazing sorbets from years past. Lo and behold, they no longer make them. They’ve replaced them with a non-vegan sugar free dessert option. Serious bummer. 

As a point of consolation, they do at least carry the So Delicious Coconut ice cream. Overall the meal was quite a letdown.

On a positive note, their bread is still vegan, and they do still carry the soy-free Earth Balance. Fill up while you can!

Well, that about wraps it up for this year. 

Like always, thanks for reading, and please don’t hesitate to contact me with any questions.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Guest Post A'Comin'

TofuForBrains contacted me through this blog a while ago (I'm atrocious with estimating time, so it might have been three years ago - it might have been twenty-seven... there's no way to say for certain)... anyway, she'd written to me once again this fall (I'm pretty sure to rub my nose in the fact that she was heading to Disney this November yet again, not realizing that my family too had a trip booked for the same time - HA!). As it happened, as if by some celestial alignment, she was to arrive at Disney on the last day of our trip. Thankfully things fell into place and we were able to meet up for a few hours of fun (bittersweet as those last few hours in the Magic Kingdom always are), riding the newly holiday-themed "Jingle Cruise", enjoying a tropical serenade in the Enchanted Tiki Room, and watching the Wishes fireworks from the new FastPass+ viewing section in the Rose Garden (a pretty amazing spot that anyone with a MagicBand really needs to look into!).

Not to get off topic, but I forgot to mention it in my last post. With the MagicBand you can book FastPass+s not only for rides, but for the Illuminations and Wishes fireworks, as well as for the daytime MK parade and the Main Street Electric Parade. The viewing for all of these is top notch, you only have to arrive 30-10 minutes before they begin rather than staking out your spot hours ahead, and you're in a reserved section with relatively few other people crowding you in! Definitely take advantage of this while it's available. Technically they're in the testing phase, so some of these features may not be permanent.

Anyway, back on track.

Since TFB is vegan and extremely Disney-knowledgeable I asked her if she would like to contribute a guest post to the blog. She was kind enough to oblige, and the following is her fantastic and incredibly insightful and helpful account of her trip



A Guest Post by TofuForBrains

Hi-ho, TofuForBrains here.  I’m doubly-delighted to have the opportunity to guest-post on Vegan Satori’s blog: Delighted because he asked me to do it a while ago and I’m finally getting around to it; and delighted because it means I’ve been to Walt Disney World recently and ate things worthy of the posting!  These pics represent an amalgamation of delicacies from two conferences I attended in the WDW vicinity this fall.

Now, as you’ve probably gleaned from Vegan Satori’s blog, WDW has become a heck of a lot more vegan-friendly and vegan-aware of late than it used to be. Many of the table-service places have added vegan dishes to their regular menus, and many others can easily modify existing dishes to leave off extraneous non-vegan ingredients.  The counter-service places will send out a manager without even blinking, mark your order as an “allergy,” and swiftly ensure that there is no grubby cross-contamination in your grub.  Some places even have dedicated “allergy fryers”—just ask whether they also fry chicken along with the fries.  Cosmic Ray’s and Pecos Bill’s Tall Tale Inn and Café in Magic Kingdom both promise vegan-friendly French fries.  When that isn’t possible, the restaurants will sometimes microwave or bake fries and veggie burgers for guests who ask nicely.

Because word of the best vegan delicacies spreads fast, some of my meals duplicated the ones VS has already described (including every vegan dish at the Food & Wine Festival) and I’ve mostly skipped them to avoid redundancy here.  But I can vouch for the crackerless chili at Columbia Harbour House, the wild-berry sorbet at L’Artisans des Glaces, the quinoa hockey puck and French salad at Be Our Guest, the tamarind not-beef at Sunshine Seasons, the veggie burger at Cosmic Ray’s (I leave off the bun and pile on the veggies), and pretty much anything at DTD BabyCakes NYC.

Disney’s Animal Kingdom Lodge

By far, my favorite place for vegan food at WDW is at Animal Kingdom Lodge. While sadly the quality and vegebility of Boma has fallen since the long-past days of Chef T.J.’s tenure there, both Sanaa and Jiko have their own vegan menus.  In addition to being gorgeously-rendered and boasting a museum’s worth of African crafts and artwork, the Lodge is home to dozens of animals who roam during the day on 18 acres of savanna.  It’s a great opportunity to commune with zebras, antelope, giraffes, ostriches, Ankole cattle, and crowned cranes.  Looking into the eyes of these (mostly) gentle creatures helps remind me why I’m a vegan, and offers the chance for non-veggies to get to know our nonhuman friends a bit better.  (Some vegans take issue with the fact that technically animals are being used for human entertainment at Animal Kingdom and Animal Kingdom Lodge.  I can respect that viewpoint, but personally I feel OK about it.  No balloons or plastic straws are allowed at the resort.  The animals are extremely-well-cared for, have lots of room to roam, are called to an indoor shelter at night where they receive warmth and medical attention, and have protection from natural predators.  I also think education and exposure help to remove the barriers that separate “us” from “them,” and remind us that animals are sentient creatures with their own whims, quirks, and needs.  But enough soapboxing…on to the food!)

Sanaa is my very favorite dining locale at WDW.  It’s a bit out of the way in its location at Kidani Village, and many people don’t know it’s there.  If you can score a table near the windows and it’s still light out, you can watch the animals eat while they watch you eat.  It’s the Circle of Dining.

I ate here on both of my trips.  Sanaa boasts an entire vegan menu, including appetizers, sides, and dessert.  I really enjoy getting the stew duo.  The dahl is fantastic; the greens with tomatoes are pretty good.  I expected the vegetable wot to be a traditional, spicy Ethiopian stew based upon its name, but it wound up being more like ratatouille (which I don’t particularly enjoy).  The stews come with a choice of basmati rice or a five-grain blend, though the latter is not listed on the vegan menu because the grains are produced on shared equipment with milk.  (Isn’t that thoughtful of them?) 

Dessert at both trips was the green bamboo rice pudding in coconut milk, which has a flavor somewhat reminiscent of green tea and which comes with a delightful, chutney-like mango-papaya compote.  If you enjoy bamboo rice, you can sometimes find a packet to take home at Mickey’s Pantry in Downtown Disney.

I ate at Jiko: The Cooking Place on my most recent trip.  This is the most upscale restaurant at Animal Kingdom Lodge, with a full wine menu and a gull-dotted “sunset wall” that changes colors as you dine. Luckily, I was accompanied by a fellow vegan who was just as indecisive as I and who therefore was very glad to split everything with me in order to sample a greater variety of dishes.  Sadly, we neglected to take a picture of the vegan menu; confusingly, there was one item containing honey on this menu.  We were told that the house bread was vegan, particularly when served with olive oil as it was here.  Apparently terrified that we would not ingest enough carbohydrates, we also ordered one of the flatbreads.  There were several choices here, but we went for the spicy “kitfo” with vegan beef, arugula, and peppers.  Our choices for main dishes were the maize-encrusted seitan and the jerk tofu with a coconut curry sauce and vegetables-of-the-moment.  

For dessert, we restrained ourselves and split one order of the delectable coconut panna cotta (gelled with agar-agar).  After all, we had to save room for cupcakes at BabyCakes later.  It was all terrific, but I think if I had to choose one main dish to order next time, it would be the piquant jerk ‘fu.  The coconut sauce was incrediblicious.

Animal Kingdom

It always struck me as odd that a park so dedicated to conservation and a message of interspecies interconnectedness had so few vegan options for so long.  Fortunately, that has begun to change.  On my last trip, I stopped by the Garden Kiosk near the Tree of Life.  You can see from the menu that there are many allergy-friendly options here, including several baked goods from DTD BabyCakes NYC.  I sampled the chocolate-chip cookie and the blondies, but skipped the mini-cupcakes because they contained coffee.  (It’s vegan, but I’m allergic.)  I was also impressed that they had knowledgeable Cast Members there who could answer questions about dietary options throughout the park, and a pictorial ingredient binder.  This little outpost is a boon for vegans as well as vegetarians and those who observe gluten-free or other restricted diets.

I also had to stop by Mr. Kamal’s, a little cart in Asia that has recently been re-themed as vegetarian.  The day I visited, the staff seemed to be having a lot of trouble keeping up with the orders, and they had run out of the Asian noodle salad that I was hoping to try.  Undeterred, I sampled the falafel.  I was told that everything at this cart is vegan except for the tzatziki (yogurt) sauce.

I always enjoy the safari ride as a great opportunity to meet some lovable animal characters.  One never knows what—or whom—to expect on this ride.  In the early fall, I met this rhino who thought he was a puppy as he gleefully rolled in the mud. 


By far my favorite place to be at Walt Disney World, or pretty much anywhere, Epcot has also been working to expand its vegan options.  I will spare you a full reposting of the delectable Food & Wine options I tried, since they were identical to those VS has already posted, but I’ll note that the Ghirardelli exhibit, From Bean to Bar, had one vegan bar (the 70% dark chocolate).  They were sampling the milk-chocolate squares, but were kind enough to get me a dark-chocolate square upon request.  The edible chocolate art was not vegan, but it was fun to ogle.  Ocean Spray sponsored a garnet-hued cranberry bog, and gave out copious free packets of Craisins.  (I was there on the last day of the Festival, so I came home with an awful lot of Craisins from employees desperate to empty their stashes.)   

I took a photo of the Terra offerings, including my meal of Trick’n Chicken Curry, watermelon juice, and Colorado Chili.

Sunshine Seasons at the Land Pavilion has fewer vegan options than its grab-and-go case has featured in the past.  One of my favorites, the cherry-almond-ginger couscous, was nowhere to be found on either trip.  The tamarind “beef” at the wok station kind of made up for it, though.  It was delicious, and it was thoughtfully placed behind all of the meat options so that no meat bits would fall into it.  (There is also a non-vegan tamarind beef, but it can be differentiated by the broccoli contained therein.)  Vegan snack options abound: I found Enjoy Life chocolate-chip cookies by the single serving or box; grapes; apples; carrots; questionably-vegan gels (kosher, and with no obvious animal ingredients); and the barbeque chips that Disney has so thoughtfully labeled with a big “V” for “vegan.”

On my first trip, I ate at Coral Reef and got a lovely presentation of the chick’n with forbidden rice and grilled veggies.  For those of you concerned about shared cooking surfaces, I was told that the grill is thoroughly cleaned each night and the veggies are grilled alone first thing in the morning.  The omnivores at the next table over were very interested in my meal.  (I still don’t understand how you can stare at the fish while you eat the fish.  Guess who goin’ be on de plate, indeed.)

The newish restaurant in Fake Mexico, La Hacienda de San Angel, had no trouble accommodating a vegan.  Unfortunately, I was avoiding tomatoes, onions, and spices on my visit there as I recovered from an illness; the chef was able to provide me with some house-made corn tortillas decked out with spinach, corn, red cabbage, and avocados.  (The beans were vegan but contained tomatoes and onions.  I’ll have to go back there and try them next time.)  The staff were really nice to me—they gave me a place to charge my phone, and they provided good shelter from the monsoon-like rainstorm that raged outside the restaurant that day.

Fake Japan is home to many vegan-friendly treats.  The edamame and kaki-gori are always good at the Kabuki kiosk between the American Adventure pavilion and the beginning of the Japan pavilion.  I try not to think too hard about the artificial nature of the colors in the kaki-gori; I always get rainbow-flavor with cherry (instead of the default strawberry), honeydew, and tangerine syrup.  Skip the condensed moo-milk and you’ll be fine.

I also often find good treats in the shops of the Showcase, including Mitsukoshi in Japan.  I like to buy nanami togarashi (Japanese 7-spice), which is inexplicably cheaper at WDW than it is at my local Asian market, and which is magic on udon noodles (Vegan YumYum has a great recipe for 7-spice udon with Brussels sprouts and carrots).  I also enjoy the citrus candies, featuring yuzu and other unique Japanese citrus flavors.  Botan rice candy is good and comes wrapped in rice paper (edible) along with a colorful sticker (inedible, as far as I know).  In Fake U.K., I discovered some Ginger Nuts which are actually cookies and actually rather tasty.  You can also procure Branston pickle, though I prefer to get this closer to home, tea, and some Kipling’s tarts that appeared to be vegan (but that were prohibitively pricey for me).  I have found vegan salmiak on past trips to Fake Norway.  For the uninitiated, salmiak is a kind of licorice peculiar to Scandanavian regions and flavored with an ammonium chloride additive that lends it the taste of slightly-briny floor wax.  Somehow, it’s so bad it’s good.  Ersatz Germany’s caramel shop carries Mamba, a Starburst-like candy that is labeled vegan right on the packaging.  There are some overly-salty potato sticks in the nearby food shop that are also apparently vegan, in case you need something to accompany your artificially-butter-flavored German-Canadian pretzel from the bier cart and your Ritter marzipan chocolate.

I also visited L’artisans des Glaces, the new ice cream parlor in Faux France.  I couldn’t help but share this pic of the wild berry sorbet, even though VS has already posted his, because it’s so darn appealing.  I actually liked the pomegranate, which I tried on my first trip.  It was creamy and a little tart.  Plus, it provoked a discussion in French with an exchange student working in the gift shop; she wasn’t sure about the French word for “pomegranate.”  (It’s “grenade,” hence grenadine.)

Magic Kingdom

At the suggestion of a friend, I dined at the Liberty Tree Tavern at lunchtime one day.  There is a vegan dish just sitting there on the menu for all to see—a quinoa-potato burger, breaded with egg-replacer and served with your choice of fruit or sweet-potato fries.  I found the taste rather like the interior of a samosa, and endeavored not to think too hard about the carb-laden consequences of eating a dish that contained breading, potatoes, sweet potatoes, and a bun.  (Does the pickle count as a vegetable?)

I also braved the heavy stench of meat at Gaston’s Tavern in order to sample the LeFou’s Brew, pictured here in adorable souvenir tankard.  (Note for the thrifty: you can order the drink sans souvenir cup for a little less than half the price of the full presentation.)  This concoction of Mott’s apple juice, Monin’s toasted-marshmallow syrup, and FOMZ! mango-passionfruit topping is surprisingly addictive, and I found myself imbibing it many times during my trip.  Let’s just hope Gaston isn’t especially good at expectorating in the drinks. 

Disney’s Pop Century Resort

The food court at Everything Pop! has at least one vegan item on the regular menu.  It’s a bizarre Chinese-Italian stir-fry of vegetables with marinara sauce served over white rice.  I asked for mine stir-fried in a little soy sauce instead, and the chef obliged.

I have gotten vegan Pop! waffles here in the past, although not on this trip.  I’ve heard good things about the food court at The Art of Animation for vegans, but I didn’t manage to make it over there on either trip.

Disney’s BoardWalk Resort

Chef Cat Cora’s Kouzzina is a favorite stop of mine on Epcot and Hollywood Studios days, as this restaurant can be reached after an 8-minute walk from the International Gateway (or a short boat ride for those with tired toes).  There are many appetizers on the menu that are vegan as they stand or can easily be veganized, including the grape leaves, the escarole with garlic, the Brussels sprouts with capers, the broccolini, and the gigante beans in tomato sauce.  If you prefer a piping-hot entrée, the tomato-based briami isn’t bad.  The fresh donuts (really more like donut holes) used to be vegan here if you skipped the drizzle of honey at the end and subbed in some raspberry sauce, but they weren’t offered to me on this trip.  Like most restaurants at the World, sorbets are always an option.  On this trip, I enjoyed dipping some of the house bread in a spicy olive oil, sampling the olives from the appetizer plate, and ordering a giant plate of mixed greens (since I had eaten park popcorn for breakfast and was generally feeling under-vitamined that day).

Disney’s Contemporary Resort

One of my conferences was at the Contemporary, or (as I like to call it) the Retrotemporary, since like Tomorrowland it serves to depict the future from 40 years ago.  (Otherwise known as “the past.”)  Let’s not speak much of the catering service there—it was truly dreadful and the kitchen staff had very little understanding of what constitutes vegan food (although they did find some Follow Your Heart mozzarella to throw on my salad).  They generally had a lot of trouble handling special dietary requests, and (among other disasters) they provided pre-packaged cookies and croutons made with eggs, milk, and gluten to colleagues with celiac and vegans alike.  The restaurants are operated separately, and like the rest of the parks and resorts at WDW, they are usually good at handling vegan requests.

I scheduled one early breakfast at The Wave, where I requested Mickey waffles with fruit compote and an order of home fries.  I was disappointed in the waffles, which were quite undercooked and gummy (made from the gluten-free mix).  They had some vegan  bottled smoothies on the menu, but were unable to locate the kind I requested before I had to head up to my conference.  The tofu I received was pretty tasty, if a little over-salted.

Another night, I went up to the newly-refurbished California Grill for a quick dinner in the lounge.  Reservations at this place are quite popular due to the nighttime view of the Magic Kingdom and spectacular perspective on the fireworks.  Most people don’t know that a table can be had in the lounge without a reservation, and that vegan sushi is a very affordable and quick dinner here ($15 gets you a big plate and the same view seen by the people with “real” tables).  The sushi is provided in soy wrappers rather than nori.  Mine was made with a combination of Asian pear, cucumber, colored bell peppers, and a few other veggies.

I managed a stop at the Contemporary Gingerbread Display before I left.  The deluxe resorts at Disney compete to make elaborate (though un-vegan) scenes out of gingerbread and other edibles during the holiday season, and some of them host gingerbread shops.  I was quite pleased to find a couple of vegan treats, including this Toastie and a vegan gingerbread man, at the Contemporary’s shop.

And with that, I’ll wrap up my guest post with a contented pat of the stomach.  Thanks to my gracious host, Vegan Satori, for the chance to share my experiences here on his blog!  I leave you with my general rules for vegan dining at WDW:
      1)  As the Russian proverb goes, “Trust, but verify.”  Ingredients change all the time at WDW.  If you’re at a counter-service place, ask to see the ingredient book and mention you have a special dietary request.  Don’t assume that a chef or server understands veganism the same way you do.   If you avoid honey, confectioner’s glaze, shared cooking surfaces, and mysterious “enzymes” in your baked goods, make sure to mention it.  Most counter-service restaurants will permit you to inspect the ingredients and decide for yourself.
            2)  Be creative.  If a sandwich normally comes with non-vegan bread but is otherwise vegan-friendly, ask if you can have an extra serving of veggies instead of the bread.  See if there are other ingredients available from different dishes at the same location to boost the content of a salad that is a little too boring once all the non-veg stuff has been left off.  Use the toppings-bar as your palette.
      3)  At table-service restaurants, tell everyone what you need.  Mention to the person who seats you and to your server any special requirements that you have. If you’d like to speak with a chef, this can generally be arranged with very little muss or fuss (the only place I’ve ever been given the stink-eye about this is at California Grill, even sitting at a reserved table).
      4)  Look out for some of the buffets, where dishes are not prepared according to individual specifications and where staff may be less knowledgeable about allergens and undesirables.  My luck at Tusker House and Boma has been less outstanding than Vegan Satori’s; I once had a chef come out and walk me through the buffet, only to learn that he misinformed me about the presence of butter and honey in some of the dishes.  (Luckily, I’m suspicious by nature, and I confirmed with another server since I had eaten there before.)  If you have a true allergy or an intolerance, make sure to stress that you have a medical need to avoid cross-contamination.
            5)  Try to get a table near a plug so you can recharge your phone.  This has nothing to do with veganism except that food p0rn tends to drain cell phone batteries rather quickly.
      6)  Be really nice to everyone who helps you.  It’s wonderful that WDW has become so accommodating for people with special dietary needs, and I’ve often found the managers, servers, and chefs there to be cheerful, friendly, helpful, and respectful of my individual wishes.  Tip generously.  If someone goes out of his or her way to assist, you can get the person’s name and e-mail Guest Services with your outpouring of praise (which will then get passed along to the Cast Member’s manager and other superiors).  Make sure you mention how much you enjoyed coming to WDW as a vegan.  It provides great feedback to let them know that their attention (along with all that pixie dust) keeps us vegans coming to the parks!

      - TFB