The Vegetarian Resource Group Blog

My Vegan Hersheypark Experience

Posted on June 23, 2017 by The VRG Blog Editor

By Shannon Borgoyn, VRG volunteer

When you’re vegan, dining out can be a challenge. There are those obvious ingredients to avoid (eggs, milk, butter, seafood, and meat), but there are sneaky foods that seem vegan but aren’t. This was the challenge when a friend and I took a day trip to Hersheypark in Pennsylvania in August 2016. When browsing through Hershey’s site, I discovered a park policy prohibiting outside foods and allowing only one sealed bottled water per person (reference FAQs/Security/What items are restricted at Hersheypark?: http://www.hersheypark.com/park-info/faqs.php). Knowing this policy, I scrutinized Hershey’s site to find food options.

Wherever I went in the park, I wanted to know at least one food place with vegan and/or vegetarian options. I found a list of Hershey’s food locations at: http://www.hersheypark.com/things-to-do/dining/locations.php. There are few dishes that are specifically labeled “vegan” or “vegetarian.” These “labels” are found in the dishes’ titles; the dishes’ ingredients can be referenced in the ingredient listings under each dish (see the above link for food locations). Don’t be fooled by titles, as seemingly vegan or vegetarian dishes might contain animal products. For example, the Garden Salad from Decades sounds like it has no eggs or dairy, but it contains cheese (Garden Salad/Decades: http://www.hersheypark.com/things-to-do/dining/details.php?id=30). The best way to find out if a dish fits your lifestyle is to reference these ingredient listings. As of June 2017, the ingredients and allergens are labeled in the dishes of most food places. Some of the listed food places (like Chick-Fil-A) require a visit to their company site to discover food options, ingredients, and other information.

A noteworthy item is fries. The regular fries sold at various food places throughout the park are fried in peanut oil, soybean oil, and/or vegetable oil (“contains one or more of the following: canola oil, corn oil, cottonseed oil, palm oil, soybean oil, sunflower oil”). The type of oil used varies from location to location. A food place called Tower Fries serves regular fries (listed as “Fries”) fried in peanut oil. When I went to Hershey, I pointed out the place to my friend so she knew that I didn’t need special accommodations.

Vegans and vegetarians can shop at the Central PA Kosher Market (http://www.hersheypark.com/things-to-do/dining/details.php?id=41) because they also have meat-free, milk-free, egg-free, and butter-free options. There is the Vegan Delight that contains “falafel balls, quinoa tabouleh, chickpea edamame, on a bed of lettuce, purple cabbage, shredded carrots, and red onion.” They have different types of salads, fries (fried in vegetable oil), falafel (no milk or eggs), and more! When I contacted Hersheypark about vegan options, a representative suggested Overlook Food Court. She said they have “a made-to-order salad and wrap line as well as a line that serves quinoa and rice noodle bowls with tofu.” The latter two dishes she referred to are Overlook’s gluten-free quinoa bowl and gluten-free rice noodle bowl: both contain chicken but could be made without it.

Gourmet Grille has labeled four options as vegetarian (not vegan): Vegetarian Burrito, Vegetarian Nachos, Vegetarian Taco, and Vegetarian Taco Salad. The Vegetarian Burrito contains a flour tortilla with a filling of black beans (made with butter), cheese, salsa, and sour cream. The Vegetarian Nachos features nachos and cheese with black beans (made with butter). The Vegetarian Taco consists of cheese, salsa, and sour cream. Finally, the Vegetarian Taco Salad features a fried tortilla with black beans (made with butter), salsa, sour cream, guacamole, cilantro rice (made with butter), and salsa.

Besides these, Hersheypark has familiar fast food chains: Subway and Moe’s Southwest Grill. The benefit and similarity of these two are that you can create a personalized dish: get in line, choose a dish, and select toppings/fillings. Keep in mind that Subway provides its ingredients lists on Hershey’s site and Moe’s doesn’t. However, Moe’s website (https://www.moes.com/food/menu/ingredients/) can be visited and browsed through to discover ingredients. There are two Subway locations in the park: in Founder’s Way and on the Boardwalk. Moe’s Southwest Grill can only be found in Pioneer Frontier.

Need a snack? If you want fruit, Laff Track Beverage has you covered. They serve fresh fruit with “no added ingredients available”: whole oranges, whole bananas, whole apples, sliced pineapple, and sliced watermelon. These sound perfect for a hot day at Hershey! If you want a pretzel, Laff Track Beverage also sells pretzels not made with dairy or eggs (other places include Coal Cracker Pretzel and Pretzel House). Check out more of Laff Track Beverage’s options at: http://www.hersheypark.com/things-to-do/dining/details.php?id=75. Or try Nut Hut: they have trail mix (contains milk), smoked almonds (no eggs or dairy), or salted nuts (no eggs or dairy). See more of Nut Hut’s options at: http://www.hersheypark.com/things-to-do/dining/details.php?id=39.

Businesses are acknowledging vegans and vegetarians by providing more vegan- and vegetarian-friendly fare. Though some food places aren’t strictly vegan or vegetarian, there might be labeled or unlabeled vegan or vegetarian options. It’s great that Hersheypark provides ingredient lists for food dishes. With some preparation, I greatly enjoyed my Hersheypark experience!

To find out more information, visit these links:
Hersheypark’s site: http://www.hersheypark.com/
Hersheypark FAQs: http://www.hersheypark.com/park-info/faqs.php
List of dining locations: http://www.hersheypark.com/things-to-do/dining/locations.php
Allergens: http://www.hersheypark.com/things-to-do/dining/allergens.php

The contents of this posting, website, and our other publications, including Vegetarian Journal, are not intended to provide personal medical advice. Medical advice should be obtained from a qualified health professional. We often depend on product and ingredient information from company statements. It is impossible to be 100% sure about a statement, info can change, people have different views, and mistakes can be made. Please use your best judgment about whether a product is suitable for you. To be sure, do further research or confirmation on your own.

For information on other restaurant chains, see: http://www.vrg.org/fastfoodinfo.php

For information on vegetarian and vegan restaurants in the US and Canada, see: http://www.vrg.org/restaurant/index.php

3 to “My Vegan Hersheypark Experience”

  1. The VRG Blog Editor says:

    Thank you for sharing this perspective. You bring up a good point.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Oddly enough, it was 25 years ago, at Hershey Park, where I decided to stop eating meat. I remember standing in line and smelling the burgers and when it came time to order, I ordered a salad. I was 13 and my family thought it was a phase, but I never looked back and have since gone vegan.

    Now I’m planning a trip with my little family, for the first time in 25 years and your blog was incredibly helpful! Thank you!

  3. The VRG Blog Editor says:

    Thanks for your note!



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