If you head to a buffet at Disney, you really won’t go wrong. There are always plenty of options outside of the meat dishes and there’s one guarantee – you won’t leave hungry. Some of the most talked about dishes at the buffets, like the chilled strawberry soup at 1900 Park Fare at the Grand Floridian, are veggie friendly. A special mention has to be made of Boma at Animal Kingdom Lodge, which offers perhaps the best selection of all the buffets on Disney property and the options you’ll find there are ones you probably won’t ever have seen before. For fish eaters, the curried coconut seafood soup is one of my favorites and never disappoints and it’s the same story with the pap and fufu, both African vegetable dishes. You’ll find at least a couple of salads you can sample, along with vegetable skewers and a stunning selection of desserts.
Staying with the African theme, the new lunch and dinner buffets at Animal Kingdom’s Tusker House has a wide range of choices, including a whole vegetarian table, boasting options such as Marrakesh Couscous with roasted vegetables, vegetable samosas, spiced tandoori tofu and a range of interesting salads and vegetable side dishes.
When it comes to set meals that are served family style, invariably there are choices for vegetarians. The dish served at the Liberty Tree Tavern character dinner at the Magic Kingdom last time we were there didn’t hit the mark, but there was no such problem with the option served up for dinner at ‘Ohana at the Polynesian. Even at the Hoop Dee Doo dinner show, we were asked in advance whether we had any dining requirements and I was offered a choice of three or four options for my meal.
However, one place you may want to avoid if you’re at all squeamish about the sight of raw meat is Teppan Edo in Epcot’s Japan, where the food is cooked in front of you. Unless you have a table of eight vegetarians, the chances are that food is going to include meat and fish and, although the cooks do keep the vegetables away from the other items, it is all cooked on the same huge hot pan.
Better choices in Epcot include Restaurant Marrakesh in Morocco with their lovely vegetable couscous and the Princess Storybook meals at Akershus in Norway, where, as well as a huge selection of cheese and salads on the cold buffet, entree items include a vegetable pasta and, for fish eaters, a couple of fish choices.
Fancy trying a vegetable curry? Then head for the Rose and Crown in the United Kingdom, while you’ll find a beautiful onion soup at Chefs de France next door in France, along with a vegetarian entree at both lunch and dinner.
Another great place for non-meat eaters is Spoodles on the nearby BoardWalk with a wide selection of fish dishes and some more unusual vegetarian items, including the highly recommended Mediterranean dips with toasted pita and marinated olives or the equally good margherita flatbread. Although these are appetizers, I found the latter very substantial and it made a very good entree.
Staying with the Mediterranean theme, there’s plenty on fresh at Fresh at the Dolphin, where you can pick from either a buffet or a la carte items, which include some wonderful roasted vegetable grilled pitas and a Caprese sandwich, complete with delicious buffalo mozzarella and red and yellow tomatoes.
Italian restaurants are usually a good bet for vegetarians and Disney is no exception. You’ll find a fair few dishes on the menu at Mama Melrose’s in Disney’s Hollywood Studios, including mozzarella and tomatoes for appetizer, a delicious tomato flatbread and an eggplant dish. Tutto Italia, the Epcot restaurant, has lost some of my previous veggie favorites from its menu, but still comes through with a tomato and mozzarella pasta dish and an intriguing combination of pasta, pine nut pesto and fagiolini green beans. Tony’s Town Square Restaurant in the Magic Kingdom doesn’t disappoint either with soups, salads, a superb six cheese flatbread and a vegetable pasta dish or eggplant and ricotta roulade, depending which meal you head there for.
I’ve also got to reserve a mention for what is undoubtedly – to me anyway! – the best veggie burger on property. To sample it, head for Beaches and Cream at the Beach Club. The first time I tried it, I really did worry that they’d served me with a meat burger, but no, it was the correct order – and it was that good. It’s remained just as good in all the years since then.
From one extreme to the other, if money is no object, then you’ll get a perfectly catered meal at Victoria and Albert’s, which will take into account exactly what you can and can’t eat. It’s a pricey treat, but it is worth every penny.
Finally, if it’s just meat you don’t eat, but fish is still on your diet, definitely give Fulton’s Crab House at Downtown Disney or the Flying Fish Cafe on the BoardWalk a go. Both have superb fish and another good choice for fish lovers, especially if you enjoy different flavors, is the new Yak and Yeti restaurant at Animal Kingdom – I was pleasantly surprised by their fish options and they had some lovely and unusual flavors to them.