By Guest Blogger Chris Combs
Over 17 million people a year visit Walt Disney World from around the planet. And without a doubt, there is going to be particular dietary choices as millions of individuals coming from millions of different backgrounds have needs that require adaptation to. And there is nowhere more accommodating than the Happiest Place on Earth. Be it the requests of gluten-free items to kosher meals. Or if someone in your party has an allergic reaction to something. Even if someone just wants the hottest of fries, WDW will make sure it happens. And as a former cast member in food and beverage at WDW, I personally know that cast members are more than happy to fix up a little something just for you if your diet calls for it. No length seems to be too far. And with over 130 restaurants between the parks, resorts, and anywhere else you can grab a Disney bus or taxi to, you can be sure to find something that sparks a delicious culinary adventure on your taste buds.
But there is one dietary choice that does get a lot of attention, yet many who are looking for it may not know it is there. A vegetarian diet. For those who pass through the fish farms on Living with the Land, or board the train to Rafiki’s Planet Watch, and think “Yeah, I would like to keep those around”, there is no worry. Of the hundreds of restaurants at WDW, most are bound to have at least to have one item on the menu (for full-service dining there are usually more) to make sure that no one is left out.
Don’t think these items are going to taste like obligatory additions to the menu. Not at all. Not only will these items save you money a lot of the time, vegetarian food choices in WDW (and I say this from personal experience) do not lack a taste that you will be craving for but never get. Although some restaurants across the Florida property will certainly have a larger vegetarian and more delightful tasting meals than others, do not think that the menu has to say ‘vegetarian’ in the item title to be a non-meat plate. Ask your waiter or waitress, they will be more than happy to answer any questions you have.
If you do not see something on the menu that works for your vegetarian preferences, do not worry. Ask if there is something there that isn’t on the menu. You’ll be amazed where you will find a vegetable burger (Found one at Blizzard Beach).
I do have some personal favorites of mine across WDW for those looking for vegetarian options the next time they visit the Magic Kingdom and the rest of that magical place.
The Rainforest Café (found at Downtown Disney or outside Animcal Kingdom) has one of the most scrumptious natural/vege-burgers that my tongue has had the pleasure of tasting. A collection of garbanzo beans and zucchini in a patty topped (with my personal touches) barbeque sauce, Swiss cheese, and any other burger topping that roared messy-manliness. I found myself craving this burger so much when I returned home, I have decided to find the ingredients and recreate this masterpiece for dinner on a regular basis.
I have been visiting WDW on a regular basis for five years now, and not once, as a vegetarian or meat-eater, have I wandered into the Electric Umbrella. And my stomach has regretted it. The Southwest Black Bean Flatbread found there was a surprising treat that required me to try something new, and save a little bit of money (every little bit counts). Filling and flavorful, this flatbread item is recommended for anyone, no matter how you identify your daily diet.
New, exotic, and unique beyond the sense of taste’s imagination is Sanaa (meaning “artwork” in Sawhili) found in the Kidani Village at Animal Kingdom Lodge provides some of the most adventurous vegetarian items in WDW. ‘African cuisine with Indian flavors’, Sanaa is an adventure in itself. Beautifully themed and decorated to compliment the delectable food served there, my favorite suggestion at Sanaa would be the collection of Indian –style breads and accompaniments. The menu says it serves two, but why not get a serving just for yourself, you’re going to wish you did. Mouthwatering, the Naan, Onion Kulcha, and Paneer Paratha go best with Roasted Red Bell Pepper Hummus, Mango Chutney, and Tamatind Chutney. But the Naan stood out the most. Also, the Vegetarian Sampler works well to help complete the meal. I feel this restaurant is just once again Disney trying to show off, and it works.
But is there anything more delicious in this world than pizza? A pizza can tell you about a person by what they top it with and how they like it prepared. Via Napoli in Epcot in the Italian Pavilion serves, in my opinion, the greatest pies (this is an Italian restaurant, we must call it the right term), found anywhere. There are so many choices here, it is difficult to give a recommendation. If you are a vegetarian, it seems the best pies are made with you in mind. With smells filling nostrils from the stunningly decorated ovens to filling your stomach after or before a long day at Epcot, Via Napoli provides some of the best food for anyone in the family, vegetarians included.
There are a few ideas of the vegetarian choices at WDW. And remember, these are just a few of many.