Disney Goes Vegan

Oct 31, 2019

Disney may be the happiest place on Earth, but the healthiest? The brand seems to be telling skeptics to wake up and smell the hummus: In one of the biggest culinary overhauls to date, more than 400 new plant-based dishes are rolling out across both U.S. parks.

Though Disney never starved its vegan fans, of course, options were sufficiently limited that blogs and chat groups sprang up among in-the-know types. Now, however (or at least by this spring, depending on the venue), you can flip through any given menu at the parks' major restaurants, scan for green leaf icons, and find plant-based selections to spare. (And, Disney promises, flavor to spare.) To see for ourselves, we took a tasting tour (yes, yes, tough job...) and came back with five new favorite dishes. Read on, then plot your healthiest-ever trip to Disney. 

For your inner Jedi

The buzz continues around Disney’s newest land, Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge—with the newest ride, Rise of the Resistance, set to open at Walt Disney World in December and at Disneyland in January. Meanwhile, Docking Bay 7 Food and Cargo is already feeding hungry Jedis, and we now know why the new Felucian Garden Spread (above) is making such a splash among vegan intergalactic travelers. This plant-based kefta is an improbably good take on the the Middle Eastern-North African original—and the accompaniments include freshly herbaceous humus (hey, that genie wasn't kidding) and tomato-cucumber relish and pita.

For your inner Moana

We were already fans of Tangaroa Terrace Tropical Bar & Grill, the South Seas-inspired poolside hangout at the Disneyland Hotel in Anaheim. (Granted, we're suckers for tiki torches and Polynesian music.) Now we've got a new favorite lunch item: the house Rongo Salad, which goes big on edamame, green papaya, cherry tomatoes, crispy shallots, sesame seeds, and marinated tofu. Gooseberries add pops of flavor (and color), while the fermented miso vinaigrette adds just the right zing.

For your inner Avatar

You'd expect Disney's vegan masterminds to be especially on their game inside Pandora – the World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom, and you'd be right. But even in that plant-forward context, there are standouts, such as the Chili-Spiced Crispy Fried Tofu Bowl, an instant hit at the Satu’li Canteen. Pick your base—the sweet potato hash and mixed whole grains are popular choices—and top it with a crunchy vegetable slaw, boba balls and chili-sauced tofu for a bit of heat to fuel your adventure.

For your inner Lightning McQueen

The Lamplight Lounge inside California Adventure Park pays homage to all things Pixar, with an animation-inspired aesthetic and trove of cartoon-themed memorabilia. But whether you're here for your own sake or the kids' (hey, no judgment if the former), you'll find great-for-grownups fare that now includes fabulous vegan flautas (above)—a magic blend of soy-based chorizo, potato purée and zesty serrano chili and tomatillo salsa. We're not sure if Abuelita from Coco would be down with the meat swap, but we bet if you sit in one of the restaurants's Miguel chairs, all will be forgiven.

For your inner surfer

Ready for dessert? One of the best stops is the California Grill, ironically at Disney’s Contemporary Resort inside Walt Disney World. This surfer-chic outpost serves up all manner of So-Cal inspired goodness, but our favorite item is the new plant-based cashew cheesecake (above). In place of refined sugars, you'll find tons of flavor and complexity, and a great nutty crunch. The dish also pairs beautifully with the view, but in fairness, pretty much anything does: You're gazing out onto the Magic Kingdom, after all.

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