“The only thing I like better than talking about food is eating” – John Walters
Whilst away in Orlando this was the blog post I was really excited about doing on my return! I took lots and lots and lots (get the idea that it was lots?!) of photos of what I was eating and couldn’t wait to share with you all what I had discovered on my trip. I think all those photos were my downfall though! I kept looking at how many there were to sort through and kept putting it off. At long last though I have given myself a talking to and finally sat down to write this post. Or should that say ‘these posts’…I have so much to talk about Disney wise that I think I will briefly touch on it here and then give you all the details in another post. How does that sound?
Having only made the switch to a plant-based diet in January (I took part in Veganuary having been a vegetarian for 20 years and then kept on going!), I was quite nervous about how Orlando would treat me…would it be kind and offer lots of food or would it be a mean old Orlando where I would have to live on fries? Especially as I find it really hard asking things in UK restaurants anyway thanks to my anxiety and hadn’t really eaten out since making the switch. Happily on the whole Orlando was a lovely friend to me though we did have the odd falling out…
Disney World was on the whole pretty damn awesome and you’ll see exactly why when I write part 2 of this post (I promise it will follow on real soon!).
We were completely spoilt staying at the Animal Kingdom Lodge where we had the super amazing buffet at Boma complete with chefs that really seemed to know their thing about dietary issues. The quick service Mara also had staff who would happily make changes for you or get a chef from next door to do something special for you.
The parks themselves were a bit of a mixed bunch. Magic Kingdom and Epcot seemed to provide the most choice whilst Hollywood Studios was one of the times me and Orlando fell out. Lets just say I was relieved to have snacks with me. Animal Kingdom had reasonable choice, I think I was simply unlucky in not being near anything at lunch when I didn’t have the time to go walking elsewhere thanks to a Nemo reservation. We lucked out when we made the trip out to Fort Wilderness Campgrounds by getting the legendary Chef TJ (give vegan at Disney a google and I guarantee he will pop up!). Added to this the rather big choice at Disney Springs ~ well me and Disney got on very fine indeed generally.
Now in stark contrast to Disney, Universal was where me and Orlando fell out. Inside both parks, the choice for anybody with any form of dietary requirements was very poor (words from the mouth of a member of staff). The Harry Potter areas had a few options at the Three Broomsticks and Leaky Cauldron that would allow you to cobble together a meal however neither fitted in with where we were when we wanted to eat so I made do with some fries and a Lara bar that I had with me (I miss you Lara Bars!). Outside the parks in City Walk, there was actually a few options ~ hurrah! We choose to try out the Mexican restaurant Antojitos LINK rather than the Italian Vivos as we were a little fed up of pizza (I know! How is that even possible?!) and had some tasty authentic food accompanied by a mariachi band. Our server was pretty helpful with my choices and I had the Vegetarianas Enchiladas without the queso fresco plus some nachos with salsa. Yummy meal…just a shame we had to leave the parks to get it. I was so hungry by the time we got there, I forgot to take photos…
Universal did slightly redeem itself by being the place to introduce me to Dippin Dots (again in City Walk). These little balls of flash-frozen tasty deliciousness were one of my favourite discoveries in Orlando. Not all flavours are vegan though there are a whole heap that are ~ Liberty Ice, Black Ice, Sour Blue Razz, Orange Ice, Blue Raspberry Ice, Lemon Ice, Lime Ice, Strawberry Ice, Mango-Pineapple Sorbet, Strawberry Sorbet and my personal favourite Rainbow Ice.
Outside the parks:
We did do some eating outside the parks too though not enough if the standard of what we did eat is anything to go by!
Compared to the supermarkets over here, the big grocery stores in Orlando were a treasure trove of goodies. From meals to snacks, the choice was amazing and slightly overwhelming! It was way too easy to leave laden down with crisps (chips), snacks bars, vegan cheeses, hummus and tasty salads. Whole Foods Market near Universal was my favourite with its hot food and salad bar which you can stuff…I mean place a small amount… into containers to take away. Oh and they had seriously delicious vegan doughnuts!
On one Sunday we made our way to Lake Eola Park in downtown Orlando for the farmers market held there every Sunday. It feels a world away from the theme parks and was a lovely relaxing place to stroll and hang out with locals. There was stack loads of choice including a really tantalising Mexican stall which I still wish I’d tried. In the end though we all ended up at the hot dog stall where I had a tasty vegan dog with almost all the trimmings which I followed up with grilled corn and a vegan ice cream.
Funnily enough I found a really enjoyable salad way out at Kennedy Space Centre. I wasn’t holding out much hope for vegan food there and the first food places we came across seemed to support this. I was about to resign myself to doing a Universal i.e. fries followed by my own snacks when the Orbit Cafe saved the day with its build your own salad! So I choose a base of mixed leaves and then all the veggie options (other than mushrooms…still working on eating them) plus a few extras from the topping bar. A tasty surprise to find!
By far though the highlight of my vegan experience in Orlando was eating at the truly amazing Ethos ~ heck I’d go back simply to eat there again! Oh my what can I say about this place that does it justice?! Set in the artsy and historical area of Winter Park, Ethos is a 100% vegan restaurant serving gorgeous home-style food that will satisfy anyone, whatever they eat. All 3 of us (1 vegan and 2 omnivores) rolled out of the restaurant filled to the brim with good food and coffee. Between us we demolished sauasage rolls, blackened tempeh with rice, beans and veggies, an all American burger and a chickun bruschetta sandwich followed by carrot cake, chocolate amaretto mousse and an espresso topped vanilla ice cream. As I say, we rolled out the place!
(check out the menus on the link above and get ready to drool!)
Sorry the photos aren’t quite the best….the downside of sitting on a small table by the window on a sunny day!
Wow talking about all that food has made me real hungry and wanting to go back to try out more tasty food there. The wilds of Cumbria is not the natural habitat of a vegan! So have you been to Orlando? How did you find it food-wise?
Part 2 of my vegan adventures in Orlando to follow…