Food & Dining

Is Mickey Mouse a vegan? If so, he’ll have more options at Disney World

With more and more restaurants taking part in the plant-based food option craze, Walt Disney World will soon join the crowd. It comes at a time when Americans who identify as vegetarian or vegan is still less than 5 percent.

Disney Parks announced Tuesday that all major quick and table-service restaurants at Walt Disney World and Disneyland Resort will soon be serving hundreds of plant-based options — along with a new plant-based menu icon coming to Disney dining.

On Oct. 1 at quick-service locations and Oct. 3 at table-service locations, Disney World will launch the plant-based menu icon and introduce 400 new options in the theme parks and resort hotels.

Disneyland guests in California won’t be seeing the new menu options until spring 2020.

The new options will be made from plant-based ingredients that include vegetables, fruits, grains, nuts, seeds, and legumes — and no meat, dairy, eggs or honey. Disney has offered small selections of vegan and vegetarian option in the parks and hotels.

Disney gave this reasoning behind launching the plant-based options: “Our guests have embraced our plant-based offerings at our parks around the globe, inspiring us to expand our menu and introduce a new menu icon, a green leaf.”

Here is a taste of the new options coming to the parks:

Steamed Asian Dumplings from Le Cellier at Epcot - It consists of plant-based “meat” dumplings, served with bok choy, Chinese long beans, red peppers and radish in a Asian broth.

Shiriki Noodle Salad from Jungle Navigation Co. LTD Skipper Canteen at Magic Kingdom Park – This salad is made with noodles, edamame beans, mushrooms, green mango and cucumber, tossed with a sweet chili sauce.

Felucian Garden Spread from Docking Bay 7 Food & Cargo at Star Wars: Galaxy’s Edge (Disney’s Hollywood Studios at Walt Disney World Resort and Disneyland Park at the Disneyland Resort) – Made with plant-based “kefta,” herb hummus, tomato-cucumber relish and pita.

Chili-Spiced Crispy Fried Tofu Bowl from Satu’li Canteen at Disney’s Animal Kingdom – Crispy tofu, seasoned with chili-spice and topped with a crunchy vegetable slaw, boba balls and your choice of base and sauce.

Plant-Based Cashew Cheesecake from California Grill at Disney’s Contemporary Resort – For dessert a cheese-less cheesecake made with cashews.

Disney is joining a slew of other eateries that offer plant-based options, including Baskin-Robins, Blaze Pizza, Burger King, The Cheesecake Factory, IHOP, Pizza Hut and Pollo Tropical.

While many places are giving consumers a choice, the pool of customers who would buy these items is still small, although the focus is getting meat eaters to try plant-based food, too.

In 2018, fewer than one in 10 Americans adhere to plant-based diets, with 5% identifying as vegetarians and 3% identifying as vegans., according to a Gallup poll. These numbers haven’t changed much over the years.

Gallup has conducted this poll four times since 1999, with 5% or 6% saying they are vegetarian each time. It has also asked about veganism in America twice, with 2% of Americans saying they were vegans in 2012 and 3% in 2018.

Although the consumer base may be small, Gallup says due to the sales of plant-based food growing 8.1% in 2017 and plant-based alternatives to dairy expected to make-up 40% of dairy drink sales, this indicates “Americans are eager to include alternatives to animal products in their diets but are not willing to give up animal products completely.”

Miami Herald Real Time Reporter Devoun Cetoute covers breaking news, Florida theme parks and general assignment. He attends the University of Florida and grew up in Miami. Theme parks are on his mind in and out of the office.