The Space-Themed Disney Restaurant Serving Up Vegan Carrot Cake

Disney parks have always been known for their somewhat whimsical embracing of ideas from the future. Whether it's the sometimes off-base predictions of Tomorrowland, or the ambitious futuristic city turned Florida amusement park, Epcot, embracing new ideas and futuristic attractions has always been part of the Disney brand. Perhaps it's no surprise then that Disney's newest high-end dining destination is embracing that same spirit of futuristic living while serving up dishes that are out of this world.

While it never became the true Experimental Prototype Community of Tomorrow (EPCOT) envisioned by Walt Disney himself, Epcot has become Disney's marquee destination for tourists looking for a good bite to eat. Between the world showcase pavilions serving up food and cocktails from around the world and the myriad seasonal festivals the park puts on, there is no shortage of top-tier dining in the park. That lineup expanded even more in 2021, when Disney opened Space 220 in the park as part of its 50th Anniversary celebration. The intricately themed restaurant takes diners into "space" in an elevator by utilizing high-tech window screens which create the illusion of looking out into the cosmos from a space station. 

To match the ambience, much of the prix fixe menu features dishes with space-themed names and unusual plating, but the dessert menu's popular carrot cake isn't futuristic because of intergalactic theming, it's because it's impossible to tell it's completely plant-based.

Flavors of the future

In an interview with Insider, Space 220's pastry chef Romina Wagener noted that the carrot cake is one of the restaurant's most popular desserts, and that most people are surprised it is plant-based. "It's not really very space-y, but everybody likes it," she said. "It's a completely plant-based carrot cake. And people that actually like the cream cheese in regular dairy products still love this dessert because they think that it actually is like a conventional carrot cake."

While a vegetable-forward dessert like carrot cake seems like it should be an obvious choice for a "plant-based" dish, it's not just the traditional cream cheese icing that can be an issue for vegans. Most recipes also call for eggs and many call for butter, so finding substitutes that still allow the dish to get the proper texture and taste is a tricky business. Luckily, as CNN reports, Disney has an in-house "Flavor Lab," which it has tasked with finding tasting vegan-friendly alternatives to common ingredients. In recent years, the lab has been part of a push to expand its plant-based offerings to appeal to an ever-growing segment of the population cutting meat from their diets for health or environmental reasons. 

The Space 220 carrot cake, which is served with candied walnuts and toasted pepitas, is one of over 400 plant-based dishes that can be found around the Disney parks in Orlando and Anaheim as Disney continues to look to the future and expand its offerings.