The Daily Beet

07 Dec Guest post! Plant-strong at the Mouse House!

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(plant-strong Mickey and Minnie!)

Engine 2 Immersion alumni and honorary  Esselstyn, Allison recently went to Disney World with her family. She has been kind enough to share her experience about eating plant-strong while visiting Disney! If you are traveling to the Magic Kingdom, there is no need to fall off the plant-strong wagon. Keep it healthy and plant-strong while on vacation!

Plant Strong at the Mouse House

Swimsuit…check!  Sunblock….check!  Giant suitcase filled with food….check!

Preparation for our vacation to Disney World was like most other trips-washing clothes, packing clothes, etc.  But this trip was different.  I wanted to continue my plant strong lifestyle while at Disney World.  Oh I could have said “it’s a vacation, eat what you want!”.  But honestly, I feel great eating a plant strong diet, and I don’t want to change that feeling…ever!

I initially had some concerns after reading a few sample menus.  And to make matters worse, we were mostly going to skip the sit down restaurants and do quick service (or counter service) restaurants.  Those menus were even worse.  Right out of the Standard American Diet playbook!  Our saving grace was that my dad had picked out accommodations with a kitchen.  Yea.

So I started planning and reached out to my E2 group.  And here’s what I did:

1) Created a menu for the week-we decided to eat oatmeal with fruit in our room for breakfast, pack nut butter sandwiches for lunch and have a ton of snacks ready to go.  This was a huge help!  We have a six-year-old who is constantly hungry.  We never once had to buy snacks/drinks at the park (thank goodness).  We did eat dinners at the parks, and just one lunch.

2) Ordered perishable groceries from the Garden Grocer.  They delivered the items to the bell stand of our hotel (frozen items frozen and cold items still cold) and were waiting for us when we arrived.  Would suggest ordering at least 72 hours in advance to secure your delivery time.  I ordered:  bananas, oranges, frozen fruit, carrots, and bell peppers.

3) Purchased the book “Vegetarian Walt Disney World and Greater Orlando” by Susan Schumaker and Than Jaffel.  I used this book to identify the restaurants with the best vegan options.

4) Packed a “food case” that we checked.  That had nut butter, rolled oats, trail mix, bread, canned black beans, and a few other odds and ends.   Thankfully it was under 50 lbs!

5) We also rented a jogging stroller for our son from Kingdom Strollers, which was delivered to the bell stand.  Now my son is six and a half, has not used a stroller in over 3+ years and has hiked mountains with us in Washington State, but Disney World is a totally different story!  Running from ride to ride on asphalt ground from early morning until late at night was going to exhaust any child.  And we were able to load the bottom of the stroller with food/water.  I was also able to hang my lumbar pack from the stroller handle when not going on rides.   Kingdom Strollers also delivered 2 cases of bottled water to our room.

6) If you do have advance dining reservations, call the special diet hotline and request a vegan meal.  I wish I had also asked for no oil, as I ended up with a salad with an oil-based dressing at one place (The Hoop-De-Doo Review).  But at least I was not subjected to eating the giant bucket of fried chicken and ribs that everyone else was eating.  My plate of roasted veggies was really good!

7) Bring backpacks into the park!  In the morning we packed up for a day of fun.  My husband carried a backpack with bottled water, frozen juice boxes, trail mix, salt free pretzels and sandwiches.  My backpack had extra changes of clothes for the temperature fluctuations in the early morning/evening.  Disney does check bags, but allows food to be brought in-just no glass or coolers.  I did find a really cool plastic segmented snack container called “Fit and Fresh”.  It has middle section for dips and a freezer pack that fits just under the lid.  That worked well for our grapes and carrots.

8)  If eating at a sit down restaurant without a reservation, just let your server know your dietary restrictions.  The chef will come out to talk about vegan options.  One restaurant gave me an incredible Portobello sandwich with a fruit salad (I nixed the fries, even if they were fried in vegan oil!).  Our first night at Disney was spent at the German Biergarten buffet in Epcot (my dad’s selection-his name is Adolph and his father was a butcher if that gives you any indication of our heritage….).  Amazingly when the chef came out to indicate the plant options, I ended up with an overflowing plate of cabbage, bean salad, lettuce and bread.  Oh it was good!

Some of the other places we ate at:

Olivia’s at Old Key West (where we stayed)

The chef came out and gave me a few vegan options.  I had an amazing Portobello sandwich with fruit salad and rice dream ice cream for dessert.

-Tusker House in Animal Kingdom

An excellent buffet with a mix of African foods.  Lots of yummy veggie options-   Veggies with couscous, salad, bread.  My plate was loaded!  Again when I told the server, she had the chef stop by to walk the buffet with me.

-Tangerine café at Morocco in Epcot

Excellent counter service options.

Cosmic Ray’s café in Magic Kingdom

I felt the Magic Kingdom had the least amount of plant strong options, but I did find a veggie sandwich (just make sure they hold the mayo –eww).

A friend commented, “You know, most people are excited to go on vacation and pig out on junk.  I think you’re more excited about the food you ordered from Garden Grocer than riding the rides”.  That was rather true.  And eating plant strong can sometimes be a challenge.  But I find it to be an exciting challenge!

And a big thanks to Natala for sending the following resources!

Helpful Links:

Vegan in Disney





Thanks Allison for the the guest post and the GREAT tips!

Do you have any tips for traveling to Disney? Please leave a comment!

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Engine 2 Team
Engine 2 Team

The Engine 2 Team is dedicated to helping you become plant-strong! Each of us are on the plant-strong journey right along side of you!

  • Patti
    Posted at 11:37h, 07 December


  • Jill
    Posted at 12:17h, 07 December

    I just started the plant strong diet about 2 months ago and will be going to the Florida Keys for the holidays. I’m worried about eating options as the people I am going with love seafood/meat and are on-the-go people so we likely will be grabbing and going a lot for meals. Anyone have any good suggestions for the Keys? I’ve heard of some spots in Key West, but we will be staying on one of the smaller keys. Thanks!!

    • Judy
      Posted at 12:53h, 07 December

      Florida’s grocery store, Publix, has some awesome options. Many (although not all) have a health food section where I found pre-made hummus without any oil. Their produce sections also has lots of pre-cut veggies and fruit and even some really nice pre-made salad options. I made sure to pack some of our non-perishable faves like red wine vinegar for our salads. I bought several bags of pita bread (I don’t remember the brand name but the whole wheat ones that are only $1.25 for 6) and we stuffed them with salad or hummus w/veggies or even pb&j!

    • Jason Gillett
      Posted at 13:54h, 07 December

      I love the keys! I’ve lived in FLA my whole life and made the transition from Atkins dieting to vegan living. I think Allison hit the nail on the head when she took a trunk of food. Even in the winter you will find fruit everywhere down there. Vegetables are not in short supply- however, the cost of non-traditional foods is high because it costs more to ship to the very corner of the country. When I travel now, I keep a backpack filled with legal favorites. Nobody asks why I am eating out of a bag because they can see the 80 pounds missing from my body 🙂

  • Caroline
    Posted at 10:07h, 09 December

    Alison your post is so funny I laughed and laughed. You are so determined I love you for it. Its encouraged me to be alot more positvie about asking in restaurants for what I would like – especially because it tastes so much better

  • Allison
    Posted at 08:09h, 10 December

    I’m so glad you guys found it helpful! Most restaurants are able to figure something out-no matter if it’s Disney or elsewhere. I live in Northwest Indiana, not exactly a hotbed of vegan dining, and have found plant strong options! Jill, consider if your room would have a fridge. Otherwise get a cooler. Jason and Judy are right-bring food with you and scout out the grocery stores in the area. Make sure to stop and pick up some staples. Also, check out the restaurants in the area-see if they have menus online-pick out the ones that have the best plant strong options or see what they do offer and if it can be customized. Recently we went to a steak/seafood place and I was able to get salad, roasted potatoes and grilled veggies. Also here’s a good link for veg/vegan places in Key West http://www.happycow.net/north_america/usa/florida/key_west/
    Happy Cow lists grocery stores and veg/vegan restaurants -always a good resource! Let us know how your trip goes. Thanks Caroline! Be determined-and you’re right, it does taste much better!!! Patti-have fun on your trip 🙂

  • Christina
    Posted at 09:46h, 13 December

    Great article! I’ve been planning our trips as we plan to be in SoCal at Disneyland for the inaugural Tinkerbell half marathon in January, and follow up with the Princess half marathon in Florida at Walt Disney world. Did you find any veggie burger options other than the Portabello mushroom? Years ago you could get peanut butter and jelly sandwiches at the Villiage Haus in Magic kingdom, and at some of the hotel snack bars, but that seems to have changed ;(

    Thanks for the article.

  • Rebekah
    Posted at 00:41h, 10 April

    I’m curious (because we are going to Dland in June), you mention buying/bringing peppers and black beans, how did you use them?

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