Friday, November 11, 2011

Eating Vegan in the Magic Kingdom: Halloween Style

Amy's back!  And she has more vegan Disney tales to tell & pics to share!!  This time Amy spent Halloween at the magical Walt Disney World!  As Halloween is my favorite holiday, I was a little jealous of Amy's fantastical trip, but I can live vicariously through her experiences...for now.

The blog is yours, Amy!

Hi again, Healthy Hoff readers! 

Despite my lack of overall healthiness, The Hoff was kind enough to invite me to report on my latest trip to the magical world of talking mice and churros. I was there to attend two big seasonal events (well, three if you count my sister’s Halloween party, but that sure wasn’t healthy, haha).

Beefy Gaston!
The first event, at Magic Kingdom, was Mickey’s Not-So-Scary Halloween Party. As the name implies, it’s not your usual amusement park Halloween event with haunted houses and scare zones. This is a relatively tame event without the spooky people trying to scare you, but a fair share of Disney villains roaming around. I don’t eat meat, but I would have stuffed the big hunk of beef that is Gaston into my bag if he fit. There is a special parade and a Halloween fireworks show in addition to most of the popular rides. I was there for two big reasons: it’s the only time of the year when adults are allowed to walk around Disney World in a costume (unless you’re working there, of course) and also, you get to trick-or-treat! I hadn’t been in a few years, so this was my first experience not eating milk chocolate, and I have to say, it was a pretty big bummer. After visiting most of the treat stations, I got into a routine of yelling out “Who likes Snickers? Who likes Twix?!” while the other members of my group traded with me for…raisins.  Yeah, I ate about 30 boxes of raisins that night. I didn’t realize it was possible to get a sugar high from dried fruit until midway through our trip on Big Thunder Mountain, when I hit "Complete Raisin High" and laughed like a fool through what is normally a pretty tame roller coaster. There were a few other options for me, like Smarties and the original dark chocolate Peanut Chews from Goldenberg’s Candy Company (which are vegan friendly and made with molasses). But mostly I ended up with raisins.

Veggie Burger!
I also found out at this event, when I got my veggie burger from Pecos Bill’s in Frontierland, that all of the fun toppings like sautéed onions and mushrooms are cooked in Earth Balance soy butter, so they were safe to eat. This prompted me to fill my plate with every option on the bar until I had more topping than burger.

I was hoping to write a huge report on the second event I attended, The Epcot International Food and Wine Festival, but, sadly, my options were…well, basically just alcohol. And believe me, I was okay with that, but it doesn’t make for a good report on a blog about health.

The overall deal with the festival is that you can walk from country to country in the World Showcase part of Epcot and taste sample sized dishes, wine, and beers from that particular region. They set up temporary booths around the promenade that are large enough to fit a handful of chefs who prepare all the delicious things you order.  The menus have a handy green “V” next to the items that are vegetarian, but, unfortunately, there is nothing to also designate vegan. As you can see from the photo, much to everyone’s relief, there’s no meat in the flan. Ew.

Mmmm...Bunny Chow
There was one option that I THOUGHT was okay, the somewhat demeaningly named “bunny chow” at South Africa, which was vegetable curry inside a little bread bowl…I was told later that the bread MIGHT have contained eggs.  Phooey. This is what I get for not asking questions. Or not just sticking to the booze—although, be careful--I made a vegetarian at the Belgium stand very sad when I informed her that Stella Artois uses isinglass (made from the swim bladders of fish) to clarify their beer. She had already had two. I felt her pain after the bunny chow mistake.

I did, however, have a fantastic meal in Canada at their steakhouse (haha, I know, right?), Le Cellier. This restaurant is so popular that most people book it 180 days in advance and you can’t get a walk-up seat to save your life. But I know people (okay, not really…we just lucked out and got reservations the week before, but you kinda believed me, didn’t you?).

After ordering my Canadian beer (it would be wrong to drink anything else, right?) I let the waitress know what a pain in the butt I was going to be, but she was very kind and said she’d just get the chef directly so that she wouldn’t have to relay information back and forth between us. Awesome. So, the chef came out and asked whether I was vegetarian or vegan (option B) and then asked what I wanted. My brain exploded a little bit. I’m so used to having to work around limitations that having a chef tell me that he’ll cook me anything in the world that I want was a little too much to handle. So I told him that, within the overall pickiness of my not eating meat, dairy, or eggs, I’m actually not that picky, and I will eat any delicious vegetable or grain that he puts in front of my face. This response made him as equally excited as I was, because now HE had the freedom to cook whatever he felt inspired to make, so he started brainstorming and said he could make a risotto with mushroom stock and olive oil and add some root vegetables with garlic and sage. I nearly hugged him.

Amazing Creation!
He went off to make the food and we dug into our pretzel bread (this time I was assured by the chef it was vegan bread…and freakin’ tasty!).  My starter was a marinated tomato stack (sans bleu cheese…I can use “sans” this time, because I’m in Canada…well, sort of).  The main course was amazing and I nearly licked the plate! And then for dessert, they had a house made peach sorbet that tasted like fresh sliced peaches! I also had a Canadian coffee, which is pretty much an Irish coffee, except it’s Canadian whiskey, haha.
Peachy Heaven!
So, despite some bumps in the vegan road, it was a tasty trip overall. I’m leaving out some of my amazing vegan experiences in “real” Orlando, which I might include in a future entry for those who dare to step outside the castle gates and try some local eateries in Central Florida. Thanks for joining me on another adventure, and I’ll see you on Space Mountain!

Author: Amy Shoff (Disney Insider Vegan Expert)

Want more?  Amy gave us the insider scoop on eating vegan at Disney in her four part series, Even Vegans Eat Like Royalty in the Magic Kingdom!

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