Friday, January 2, 2015

Eat&Evaluate : A Tourist's Guide to Orlando {Tips for a Traveling Vegan}

What's Special About This Place: Well, Mom and Dad decided that for Winter Break vacation, we would go to Orlando, FL! That meant two days spent riding the rides at Universal Studios Orlando, a day to go down to Tampa Bay to visit the Florida Aquarium, and a New Year's Eve countdown at the Epcot Disney center! But of course, that meant I had to find a way to eat.

Why I Decided to Do An E&E: Traveling health freaks/vegans/vegetarians usually have harder times finding things to eat... And it goes double when you're like me, a hclf vegan that is also a health freak that happened to live the the American South where there are about three salad bars and a SmoothieKing I can frequent. :P {I might have to update my "About Me" page with those facts!}

What Happened: Of course I decided to go at least a bit prepared. I packed the makings for simple dinners of chocolate oatmeal, some bananas of course, a few miscellaneous fruits, sweet bell peppers, and coconut water. Man, did I miss a smoothie bowl! {My mom joked that given the choice, I would have taken my blender, lol.}
Publix was a frequency. Some sushi for dinner occasionally, or some pre-packaged broccoli salad. My outstanding-er moments I trailed for you guys on my Instagram, so read the comments on those pics if you would like a more in-depth description. (:
The highlights were as follows:
I tried my very first Suja juice.

I ordered a "treehugger" sushi roll at The Cowfish. So vegan. So delicious.

I rode the Hogwarts Express at Universal Studios!

I went to the Florida Aquarium. I know that some vegans are absolutely against any sort of animal encagement, so I apologize if that offends you.

Some anemones.
At Epcot, I was the odd one snacking on dates in line for Mission: Space. Dates are pretty darn delicious! These Medjool Joools (Jewels) were the gooiest ever.

Then of course I counted down to the New Year of 2015 with Disney Epcot fireworks!

Quite a show!
I opened the New Year with a fabulous FL-famous grapefruit.
Red is the color of LOVE. I'm going into this year with the mindset I've started to adopt since going vegan. Love yourself, love others, love God, love the earth.

Universal Studios was fantastic. I got to appreciate it a lot more going this much older because of more free rein, more active memory-making, and greater understanding of the rides. Sure, you're going to spend literally 80% of your time in lines, but some of those rides are SO worth it.
The Florida Aquarium was nice. I wasn't that big a fan of the smell. Or of the active animals locked up. But the anemones were really cool.
Epcot was wonderful. I really like this branch of Disney the best because it's more about presentation rather than thrill. It's a relaxing change to simply walk around the world showcase and see the best of some of the best countries.
FAVORITE: The Sum of All Thrills - a simulator where you got to design your own ride

What I Noticed:
a.k.a. TIPS for a Traveling Vegan

  • It's totally okay to talk to the waiter about your special eating ways. At The CowFish, all I had to do was nicely ask her to explain what was vegan on the menu, and she was super sweet about it! Turns out she even ate vegetarian for about six or seven years herself.
  • Bring some stuff yourself. That oatmeal I packed was a savory lifesaver. Like seriously.
  • Be prepared to pay for some overpriced stuff. But that is expected on vacation, right? Sometimes you will have to pay for exclusions, even though you're excluding, not adding on. ):
  • Look up the menu! Everything is practically online nowadays. You can see what restaurants offer vegan options in advance and show up prepared!
  • Dried fruit is the ultimate lifesaver. It is high in energy, and compact. And sweet! Like my box of dates. $6 for a box that lasts me two meals through a walk exhausting day. <3
  • Also, bring water. When you eat plant based vegan, you'll be used to feeling hydrated all the time. When you're on the go, there'll be less ready access to water, so water bottles are a good idea.
  • Avoid buying fruit at vendors that specialize in other foods. Normally, they will be ridiculously overpriced and not worth how much the will satisfy you. For example, a small fruit cup could be as much as a third of the price of an entree! If there's a grocery center nearby, go there! ^.^

The Evaluation: So - was it better having fun, or was the food tastier? Honestly, I loved the vacation! It is not easy finding things to eat that are conveniently tailored to your EatStyle. And while I am willing to go to lengths for a bite (any of my friends know how much I love food), I understand that sometimes my family isn't going to love having to go by Publix all the time on vacation. That said, I definitely find the dishes I can make at home with the plethora of ingredients in my kitchen a lot tastier. Because sad-but-true fact is, Veganism is not that big of an awareness around southern USA. But it's definitely growing. ^,^ I mean, I heard about it, right?

Anyways, Orlando is fantastic. You should go next vacation! (:

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