Table of Contents (Jump to a Question):
- Does this food item contain gluten? Soy? Nuts? [Insert your allergen here]?
- Why do you consider an item vegan, even if it is prepared in a shared kitchen / grill / fryer?
- Is the Impossible Burger vegan?
- What about other obscure micro-ingredients that have been tested on animals, such as food dyes? How can you call an item containing them vegan?
- Was the sugar in this food item processed through bone char?
- I have complaints about vegan options at Disneyland. What should I do?
Does this food item contain gluten? Soy? Nuts? [Insert your allergen here]?
Unfortunately, I cannot report on whether things contain gluten or other allergens because I am not qualified to do so. I wouldn’t know how to ask the right questions to make sure it would be safe for you. Also, it is already quite a bit of work to find out what is vegan, and it would be exhausting for me to be asking about every potential allergen as well. Finally, I can’t be held responsible if someone with an allergy relies solely on my information and then accidentally ingests their allergen.
If you have an allergy, you need to speak with a chef at each location. The food at Disneyland changes often, and ingredients can change from day to day. While I do my best to get the most accurate and up to date information for you, I still get told wrong things by cast members and chefs from time to time, and then I need to go back and correct it. This is not such a big deal when it comes to veganism – we all make mistakes and accidentally ingest animal products sometimes, and it is upsetting, but we can shake it off and move on – but when it comes to an allergy, it can have much worse consequences. It could happen that I am given wrong information that pertains to your allergen, or that an item that didn’t contain your allergen when I reported on it has since changed without my knowledge. That is why you need to always double check with a chef when you are there.
You are welcome to use my blog to get a general idea of what might be safe for you if you have a dairy or egg allergy, but please always double check with a chef anyway. If you have an allergy to a plant food such as gluten, soy, or nuts, then your guess is as good as mine whether a given dish contains them. I do try to get my hands on ingredients lists whenever they are available, but often they don’t exist (such as in a prepared dish in a restaurant, as opposed to a snack with packaging), or the cast members say they aren’t allowed to let me take a photo. But I really try to get the ingredients lists for you, and whenever I have them, I post them here on the blog, and then you can read the list yourself and decide whether it’s safe for you.
Please note that I don’t always have information about “made in a shared facility” statements and I don’t always know if there is cross contamination in a kitchen. That is also something you need to ask the chef yourself if you have a severe allergy.
Why do you consider an item vegan, even if it is prepared in a shared kitchen / grill / fryer?
Below is my process when I investigate a new food item, either in a quick service or table service location:
- If it is something that comes packaged at some point, or if the location has a binder with ingredients lists, I first ask to see the ingredients. If I am allowed, I take a photo of it.
- If they don’t have a list, or if it’s a table service restaurant that doesn’t show you things like that, then I ask whether the item contains meat, dairy, eggs, or honey. If it is something that I suspect may contain gelatin or confectioner’s glaze, I will ask about those too.
- I determine based on that information whether the item is vegan or can be made vegan with modifications.
- I then tell the cast member that I am personally fine with shared grills and fryers, but I need to know for my blog whether the item is prepared on a shared grill or in a shared fryer. I then note that information in the Instagram post and on the blog.
Whether you are comfortable eating from a restaurant that has a shared kitchen situation is entirely your personal choice, and I give you all the information that I can so that you can make that choice. I understand that it can elicit a disgust response to think about our food being prepared near animal products.
Even though I have a disgust response, I am happy to eat vegan options that are prepared with shared kitchen equipment. This is because I am vegan for the animals, meaning that I see veganism as being about the animals, and not about me. My goal is to end animal agriculture and animal exploitation.
When I eat at a non-vegan restaurant like the ones in Disneyland, it is important to me that my money is purchasing only vegan ingredients. When I purchase vegan ingredients that are prepared on a shared grill, I am not giving money to animal agriculture, and thus not funding animal exploitation. Not only am I not funding animal exploitation, but I am also boosting the popularity of the vegan items on the menu by ordering them.
If a restaurant finds it infeasible to have separate fryers or separate grills, I still want to buy their vegan options to encourage them to keep those options available and to add more vegan options. It’s not about whether I ingest microscopic bits of animal products through cross contamination, but rather, it’s about changing restaurant menus by showing them that it’s possible to offer vegan options and that they can sell well. Ultimately, this saves animals by keeping the menus moving in the right direction, instead of preventing restaurant owners from trying at all because it seems too hard.
Also, it matters to me that non-vegans don’t write off veganism as excessively difficult. If we tell people that they have to refuse to eat from shared grills in order to be vegan, that rules out most non-vegan restaurants, including most of them at Disneyland. It is a very hard sell to get someone to go vegan if they think they have to do that, and it does nothing to save animals. It actually harms animals because it prevents people from going vegan because they can’t imagine themselves living that way.
Again, it is a matter of personal choice whether you are comfortable eating from a shared kitchen space, but it is not a matter of whether the given food item is vegan or not. It is vegan if the ingredients listed in the preparation of the dish do not contain animal products. I sometimes get messages telling me that I’m not really vegan because I eat from shared grills. This is the wrong approach, in my opinion.
Is the Impossible Burger vegan?
In my posts and blog, I consider the Impossible burger vegan because my goal is to dismantle speciesism and to help animals who need us right now by making veganism seem doable for those who are considering going vegan.
You may know that Disneyland and Impossible Foods have an official partnership now, which means that there are many dishes throughout the parks that feature Impossible meat. Imagine how it would look to a non-vegan if I declared that I would not eat, review, or feature any of those items. It would cut the list of vegan options in the park in half, and make veganism look even more restrictive than people already perceive it to be. This is not what animals need us to be doing now. I am looking at the bigger picture and thinking about animals who can be saved right now from the horrific suffering that we subject them to. I am focused on the progress of veganism and how we can move forward to a vegan world.
Please read these two short articles for more information why I find that it is within the definition of veganism to eat and promote the Impossible burger:
Please do whatever you feel comfortable with. If you are not a fan of Impossible Foods, then you can enjoy the other options in the park that don’t include it. Please see the answer to the next question below for a continue discussion of Impossible.
What about other obscure micro-ingredients that have been tested on animals, such as food dyes? How can you call an item containing them vegan?
The FDA testing that Impossible Foods conducted when they introduced their new ingredient into the food system is the reason that some people say it isn’t vegan. They conducted animal tests in order to get onto the FDA’s list of Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS).
The GRAS list contains 903 items, meaning 903 ingredients that were tested on animals when they were introduced into the food system. You can read the full list here.
Here are a few of them:
Corn oil, corn protein, cranberry extract, pea protein, hemp seed oil, hemp seed protein, stevia leaf extract, tomato powder, canola protein isolate, lecithin from canola, grapefruit extract, rice protein, oat protein, rice hull fiber, annatto seed extract, Canola oil (low erucic acid rapeseed oil), caffeine, silicon dioxide, dried orange pulp, xanthan gum, gum arabic, isolated wheat protein, and Hydroxypropyl Methylcellulose.
Many of these ingredients are common in plant-based foods. Pea protein is one of the main ingredients in Beyond Burgers. Corn and canola oil are in countless vegan foods. Dole Whips contain three of the ingredients listed above.
If we are informing guests that a food item isn’t vegan because of the food dye (e.g. Yellow 5), then we also need to inform them of items containing any of 903 of ingredients on the GRAS list.
If you avoid every item on the list, you basically can’t eat at restaurants anymore, except maybe a few vegan restaurants that focus on whole foods. At Disneyland, you would be eating basically only fruit from the fruit carts.
Are you really going to check that list of 903 items every time you order in a restaurant? What if the only vegan option is a salad with some vinaigrette dressing, are you going to check for xanthan gum and those other 902 ingredients in the dressing? How will that look to non-vegans sitting at the table with you? Do you think they will be able to imagine themselves going vegan in that moment?
The GRAS list’s damage has been done. If you disagree with the FDA testing, please write to them and do all you can to change those requirements. But boycotting everything on the GRAS list is not helping animals; it is hurting animals by making our lifestyle look impossible to those who may be considering going vegan. When we obsess over details like this, we make it so non-vegans can’t imagine themselves going vegan, and so they continue to eat meat, dairy, and eggs.
I go to the vigils at the Farmer John slaughterhouse in LA a few times a month. I see those pigs facing their deaths. They do not care if you are avoiding 903 obscure ingredients on an FDA list. They care that we get people to go vegan NOW and stop paying for them to be put in a gas chamber and have their throats slit.
You are welcome to avoid everything on the GRAS list if you wish; please do whatever you are comfortable with. But please consider how counterproductive it is for us to obsess over this list, and how far beyond “possible and practicable” (definition of veganism) it is to be avoiding everything on that list. Because it is not possible or practicable to avoid the 903 items on the GRAS list, that is why it still falls within the definition of veganism to call and item vegan that contains them.
I hope that we can keep our focus on the animals who need to be saved right now, and that means making our lifestyle look doable to others.
Was the sugar in this food item processed through bone char?
For many of the same reasons I outlined in the above question about obscure ingredients from the FDA’s GRAS list, I consider all sugar to be vegan. It is impossible to know where a given sugar in an ingredients list came from – I have written to companies over the years, and sometimes they can tell me where it comes from, while other times, they can’t. Also, the suppliers change so often that it is impossible to know whether the sugar you are eating in that moment was processed through bone char or not. It goes beyond what is “possible and practicable” (definition of veganism) to avoid all sugar if the origin is unknown, so that is why it still falls under the definition of veganism.
I find efforts to trace the origin of every sugar to be counterproductive. It exhausts us and makes our lifestyle look excessively difficult to non-vegans who might otherwise consider going vegan. Bone char is a cheap byproduct of animal agriculture, and when we end animal agriculture, we won’t be so hard pressed to find uses for cheap byproducts like this. When we get people to stop eating meat, dairy, and eggs, then I believe the bone char sugar problem will sort itself out on its own because sugar processors will shift to other filters when the bones aren’t as cheaply and widely available.
I have complaints about vegan options at Disneyland. What should I do?
Please remember that I am just a guest, not a cast member of any kind, so I have no control over any decisions that Disneyland makes. I don’t have any inside information or influence, I am just the same as you!
When you fill my message inbox and comments sections with complaints about how the food isn’t to your specific taste, or how it is not healthy enough for you, or how it contains certain ingredients you don’t like, it does not change anything because I am just a guest. I pour a lot of time, effort, and money into maintaining this website, Instagram, and Youtube for you, and I know that many of you find it very helpful. But I absorb negativity easily and I am often exhausted by strangers yelling at me about things over which I have no control. Please direct your negative feedback to a place where it can make a difference, as outlined below.
Below are the steps that I take regularly, and I would be grateful to you if you could join me. The more they hear how many of us care about this, the more influence we can all have together.
- Write emails to Disneyland using this feedback form. Please always keep it polite and positive so that the feedback is well received! You might consider using the compliment sandwich. Here are some things you can write about:
- Tell them about a vegan dish you loved
- Tell them that a cast member/chef was particularly helpful about vegan options (include the cast member’s name and the location, day, and time that you talked to them)
- Ask them for more vegan options in general
- Ask them for more vegan options at special events, like the Food and Wine Festival, Festival of Holidays, After Dark Nites, Halloween, etc.
- Give specific suggestions for vegan items that could be added. We were asking for a vegan hot dog at Award Wieners for years, and writing emails suggesting different vegan hot dogs such as Beyond Sausage, Field Roast, Yves, Lightlife, etc., and eventually they did add the Plant-Based Philly Dog to that location!
- Stop at City Hall (on Main Street in Disneyland) and Chamber of Commerce (on Buena Vista Street in California Adventure) to give them feedback about vegan options as well, in all of the same areas that I listed above for the emails.
- Comment on Disneyland’s official Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter posts. Please be a decent human being and keep it polite and positive!