I had dinner with a friend last night who is vegan. I’m always impressed and slightly in awe of those who can maintain such a strict diet. I asked him how he does it and he replied with one word, “Practice.” A nice sentiment for just about anything that takes diligence, effort and continual dedication. I often toy with going vegan and my husband all but begs me not to (I’m a picky enough eater as it is).
And so it was that I thought of my friend today, while standing in front of the clear glass freezer doors at Whole Foods looking for a small, family-owned dairy that produces its own ice cream. Turns out that isn’t such a big challenge, at least here in the Bay Area. I was also moved to consider buying an ice cream maker (I left mine in Costa Rica) so that I could make my own. I opted for the easy way out and bought some Mint Chocolate Chip from Strauss Family Creamery. If you already have an ice cream maker, here is the recipe I love:
2 quarts half-and-half cream
1/2 pint heavy cream
1 1/2 cups white sugar
4 teaspoons vanilla extract
1 pinch salt
Three Twins – San Rafael, CA. They are a member of 1% For the Planet (that means they donate 1% of profits), they purchase carbon offsets and use all compostable serving dishes. Oh, and of course, their ice cream is certified organic.
For those of you who don’t do dairy, here are some non-dairy frozen dessert alternatives:
Nature’s Flavors – Orange, CA. An interesting concept – it’s a powder you add to water. It’s kosher, vegan, gluten-free and certified organic under NOP guidelines. It’s ingredients are, “Organic Cane Sugar, Organic Dextrose, Organic Rice Powder, Organic Stabilizer, Citric Acid, Organic Flavors”.
NadaMoo – Austin, TX. Made from coconut milk, certified organic, kosher, fair trade certified, certified gluten free. Although I haven’t had NadaMoo, I can attest to coconut milk “ice cream”. It’s delicious and though you would know the difference, it’s worth a try.
Tempt – Portland, OR. Ahh, an ice cream alternative made with my favorite milk alternative – hemp milk. All ingredients besides hemp are organic.
Julie’s – Eugene, OR. Organic coconut milk and agave based non-dairy desserts.
Why is organic ice cream better for you and for the environment, you ask? Ice cream made from organic dairy products keeps the harmful antibiotics, hormones and chemicals given to non-organic dairy cows out of your system and out of the larger ecological system. Aside from that, non-organic dairy cows are mistreated. They are artificially inseminated, so they are continually pregnant and giving milk – cows, like any other mammal, only produce milk when nursing. Their calves are taken from them at birth and never allowed to nurse. Whether we think cows are smart or not, I believe that cows and calves don’t want to be separated at birth. Non-organic dairy cows are penned together, usually inside or in a mud pasture and given large amounts of antibiotics to keep them from getting each other sick due to the unhealthy proximity to each other and to their own waste. For a more in-depth article (but not a terribly graphic one) on dairy cows and other food animals, check out FarmSanctuary.org