What do you think the phrase "plant-based" means, when it comes to food?
If you have visited a Disney theme park recently, you might have seen that phrase on several of Disney's menus. Just this week, Disney used to its social media to promote top 5 plant-based items for fall at the Disneyland Resort, but a couple of Disney's selection caught my eye - and not in a good way.
Disneyland promoted its Soy Chorizo Country Breakfast Burrito, which Disney listed as including egg and cheddar cheese, and a Plant-based Chorizo Quesadilla, which it said included mozzarella and cilantro crema.
Egg, cheese, and crema - of course - are not plant-based ingredients, but animal products. No, they are not flesh meat that requires killing an animal to produce, so products containing these ingredients could be acceptable to many vegetarians. But they would not be acceptable to vegans, who do not consume any animal products. Disney's use of the phrase "plant-based" to describe dishes that list the names of animal products as ingredients creates confusion as to whether Disney is using vegan substitutes for those items or the actual animal products. And since some vegan substitutes can trigger allergies, that's a red flag for people with those concerns.
Language should clarify and inform, but Disney's is just confusing in these cases.
Before I go any further, I want to note that Disney almost always has been great in dealing with dietary restrictions, in my experience. I have family members with celiac and others who are vegan or vegetarian. Cast members at Disney's theme parks frequently ask about dietary restrictions and make chefs available to guests to talk about how Disney can meet their specific dietary needs.
But as Disney has shifted more of its quick service locations to mobile ordering, that human interaction has dropped from many guests' experience. Instead, Disney is using vague phrases such as "plant based" and "gluten friendly" on their mobile ordering menus to steer people with dietary preferences to certain food products.
Notice, however, that I just wrote dietary "preferences" and not "restrictions."
If you are vegan, I would not rely on Disney's description of a dish as "plant-based" to confirm that it does not contain any animal products. And if I had celiac, I would not trust any item labeled as "gluten friendly." I would want to speak with a chef to ensure that everything I ordered would, in fact, be gluten free and not subject to cross-contamination in the kitchen. Same for people with allergies. Yes, many of Disney's labeled dishes likely are safe for you, but "likely" isn't good enough for people with actual dietary restrictions, not just preferences.
So allow me to use this forum to offer this reminder. If you have dietary restrictions, skip mobile ordering. Do not rely upon Disney's menu descriptions and instead ask to speak with a chef about what you can eat safely at that restaurant. Disney has plenty of offer people with a wide variety of dietary restrictions - that's part of the reason why Walt Disney World and Disneyland have become such popular get-aways for so many.
Just make sure that you are getting what you actually need.
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