Thursday, March 8, 2012

A Vegan in Disney World: Part Deux

For Part I of my culinary adventures in Disney World, you can go here. Otherwise, let me take you through days 3 and 4 of my trip, which were probably by far the most copious! I think they have some kind of policy that no vegan will ever go hungry in their realm or something because, man, did they try to stuff me!

Day 3: Boma at the Animal Kingdom Lodge

While we had made a couple dinner reservations before we got to Disney World for places we had heard were particularly popular, my sister and I had initially left Day 3 open for whatever food might catch our eye. After the number of raving reviews she and I saw for Boma, the Animal Kingdom Lodge's buffet-style restaurant, we knew we had to try it. (Have to say again, my sister is such a trooper for accommodating to my eating habits!) 

After a full day of Animal Kingdom amazingness (the Tree of Life is magical... seriously), we were ravenous and took the shuttle to Boma a taste of Disney-fied African Flavours. Right off, I have to say that I was so impressed with the service here. When we made the reservations for Boma earlier that morning, I didn't know how to indicate that I was vegan, so I pretty much just checked the allergy options available instead. 

Pointer #1: For the sake of the waitstaff, don't do this. Our waiter explained to me that there is huge difference between how they have to handle allergies and veganism, though they do both wonderfully. Obviously, veganism is an ethical lifestyle choice, whereas allergies, well, they can potentially cause death. When it comes to allergies, the waiter himself (and the chef) are seriously liable if anything should go wrong. Apparently, it could be as bad as some jail time if there is any suspicion that it was consciously done, or if the customer, say, dies or something... 

Anyway, I told the waiter I was vegan, not hyper-allergic to food, and told him I didn't want him to spend the rest of his life behind bars away from his little ones on account of me... he appreciated that, and told me that he would get one of the chefs to come over and take me through the buffet to tell me what I could eat. Really? That was super impressive. The night got better and better after that. I felt so taken care of. Well enough, one of the chefs came and walked me through the place, pointing out my options, showing me his personal favourites, and what was safe to eat. He even pointed to a couple things that were yummy enough that he said he would make me vegan versions if I liked. I also asked if he could make a small stir-fry on the side and he said of course! I was really impressed.

Here was my starter plate:
Some greens 
a delicious papaya grapefruit avocado salad 
(who would have thought that's a winning combination?) 
a yummy slow cooked spicy tomato thing
a watermelon rind salad with a ginger sauce 
(it was delicious, and such a creative idea, though a little heavy on the sweetener for me)
and chickpea edamame salad

I think I could have been contented (and full) with that plate alone, but my personal chef for the evening impressed me with the following dishes that I happily shared with my sis:
a small serving of roasted veggies 
(delish, but a little heavy on the oil)
a faux-meat baby broccoli stir fry
(I think they use Gardein faux-chicken stuff, which has the most entertaining chewy flavour...
I'm definitely not a fan of fake meat, and it was super salty,
but I was so happy they obliged that I ate some and shared the rest with my sister)
a small bowl of wonderfully spiced couscous with peas, almonds, and apricots

I was so stuffed to brim by then, but when I asked what they had for dessert and the chef mentioned they had tofutti ice cream, I couldn't resist. Unfortunately, they were out and brought me a kind of berry sorbet instead. I tried a taste but it was super chemically and sweet so I had to unfortunately decline and let it turn into a little red puddle, while my sister and I spend the rest of the evening chatting and digesting.

I don't think I've ever felt more taken care of as a vegan before and the staff was so accommodating. I would definitely highly recommend Boma to any vegetarian/vegan going to Disney World!

Day 4: Spirit of Aloha Dinner & Show, Polynesian Resort

The morning of Day 4 was spent at the Fit for a Princess Expo to prelude our Half Marathon. There was a lot of really neat stuff there (like the tutus we ended up wearing for the race, and some Cliff energy goo). For the rest of the day, we discovered Epcot by day. The World Pavillion was just as amazing by day as it was by night. For lunch, I snacked on some edamame in Japan while my sis fulfilled an udon noodle craving.
And then... I think we came as close to a bachelorette party as you can in Disney World by going to the Spirit of Aloha Dinner and Show at the Polynesian Resort. Tribal dances from the Pacific islands, fire dancing, and abs, oh my! It was as fun as watching 300, but... set in Polynesia. Oh, and I guess there was some lovely singing and dancing ladies too...

I told our waitress that I was vegan from the get go, and she said that I could start off with the salad and not to worry, they would take care of me (I love Disney World). Our appetizer was indeed a huge salad with mandarin oranges and ginger dressing, delicious fresh pineapple, and a coconut bread (not vegan). I know the dressing in it had some kind of ingredients and sweetener I probably wouldn't usually agree with, but it was tasty!
While my sister had their lovely main dish, the brought me a really fantastic stir fry (still a little heavy on the sodium side) but the simplicity of a veggie stir-fry was very very welcome. I chose to opt out of the rice, since I'm just not use to eating that much of it anymore, but I tasted it and it was yummy too, had I wanted to partake in more of it.
Dessert was also a welcome assortment of fruit. The grapes were delish and that perfect pop in your mouth amount of ripeness. The pineapple was as perfect as during the appetizer.
What a perfect, perfect night it was, and just the right amount of food for me. Give me salad, stir-fried veggies, and a few pieces of fruit and I'm a happy vegan. We followed the show by taking a lovely stroll on the resort's "beach" to digest, watched the electrical parade, and fell in love yet another night, with the magic of Disney World...

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