(Photo at Umaluma by Erin Ireland)
Scoop for scoop, Vancouver is a haven for ice cream seekers. We’re a city that celebrates the active lifestyle; from bike lanes and hiking to boutique fitness studios and run clubs.
With all of this movement and exercise sometimes a slower pace is needed to balance things out…because that’s what we’re all in search of after all. Balance.
This is where Vancouver’s love for Ice Cream comes into play. Through endless Summer lines that reach city block lengths to Winter cravings for ageless comforts, the ice cream joints are busy year long. With this, there has been a steady growth in the Ice Cream sector since Earnest Ice Cream paved the way for the local Ice Cream scene in 2012.
If the truth be told, not many of us can properly metabolize dairy. Dairy isn’t for everyone; whether it be for ethics, or health, or diet, or all of the above, or maybe none of the above. The plant based or 0% dairy options are growing. Here are our Top Spots for Vegan Ice Cream in Vancouver:
Earnest Ice Cream: The original player in the ‘modern’ ice cream movement in Vancouver. They started as a food cart at the Farmers Markets in 2012 and have since grown to be the most in demand scoop spot in town. They always have at least one vegan ice cream option, usually coconut based.
Chau Veggiexpress: One of the best spots for plant based food in Vancouver. Talk to any food lover and there’s a good chance that Chau is on their best-of list. Beyond their amazing lunch and dinner options these guys knock it out of the park with their dessert. The Hazelnut Praline Vegan Ice Cream is hands down one of the best sweet treats in the city. Double down with their Hazelnut Praline Bar to make it even that much better.
Rain or Shine: Rain or Shine rivals Earnest for lineups during Summer’s peak ice cream season. Line ups like these are usually a good indicator of top quality product. Their vegan options rotate, but they always offer a 'Vegan Yumaste’ Sundae, which features their Coconut Chocolate Chunk (secret hack, you can also switch it up to their seasonal vegan offering), plus vegan chocolate sauce and hazelnuts. Trust us, you won’t regret ordering the Yumaste. It’s delicious.
Mister: Mister’s offering is different then the usual scoop experience. There’s a bit of a performance that goes into the making of a cup of Mister Ice Cream. They make each serving per order, using liquid nitrogen. The liquid nitrogen creates an unmatched creaminess in texture due to the rapid freezing process, which prevents the formation of large ice crystals. Their vegan offering is usually a classic dark chocolate, but it is the most similar in terms of texture and flavour to its dairy full counterpart.
Umaluma: Take your pick, because every flavour is 0% dairy. Umaluma is Vancouver's newest gelato spot and we're going to go out on a limb in saying this is the best gelato we have ever tasted...and it happens to be fully organic and 99% plant based (they use honey in a few recipes, all of which are nicely labelled). The flavours, consistency and texture are next level. We could go on for a while about how much we love Umaluma but we'll leave it from here for you to discover on your own.
Say Hello: A Vancouver food truck also offering 100% dairy free offerings. They offer scoops and ice cream sandwiches. The best way to track this tasty food truck down is to follow them on Instagram or Twitter to see where they’re setting up shop. You can now find their scoops and pints at Friendly Snackbar on Main Street, at Vegan Supply in Chinatown and at various other boutique shops throughout Vancouver. Their flavours are crave worthy and score top points on creativity.
Bella Gelateria: Winner of Best Gelato in the whole world a few years back. Not a bad credential to have. Their sorbet offerings are all vegan and their waffle cones, which are delicious, are also vegan.
Nora's Ice Cream: Made from a blend of coconut milk and house-made cashew milk, Nora's Ice Cream, as they say is 'impossibly creamy!' And we agree. You can find Nora's by the pint at Vegan Supply Co. or at Kokomo, both located in Chinatown. Peanut Butter and Chocolate or Strawberry Swirl? It might be best to get one of each!
Virtuous Pie: A vegan’s dream. A plant based pizza and ice cream parlour. One stop shop for all dairy free, guilty pleasures. These guys are changing the game for what pizza can look like, plus their ice cream offerings use a unique variety of flavours, such as Turmeric.
Innocent Ice Cream: Located in the blossoming Riley Park neighbourhood on Main Street, Innocent Ice Cream has an original approach to how they scoop things up. Ice cream sandwiches are their specialty. 100% Gluten Free with a generous selection of vegan options. If you're feeling indecisive, this is your spot as they offer flights of mini ice cream sandwiches.
Buckets Ice Cream: Main Street's food scene is exploding and Buckets Ice Cream is the latest to join the brigade with a tasty new spot for dessert. Their ice cream is made with ice cold nitrogen which creates the creamiest consistency. They've always got a couple of vegan options on the menu, usually a sorbet and a coconut based. Think consistency of a DQ Strawberry Blizzard in the best possible way!
Kokomo: A new plant based cafe in Chinatown with delicious salads, bowls and Cocowhip Soft Serve! Cocowhip is 100% vegan, made mainly from coconut water and probiotics. Kokomo's the first in Canada to offer this Australian created Soft Serve and they jazz it up with delicious toppings and rotating flavours.
The Juice Truck: By the time you read this, we (The Juice Truck) will be launching our new Vegan Soft Serve at our Yaletown location (launching August 1st). We teamed up with dessert maestro, Adam Chandler from Beta5 to design a fully plant based soft serve. The base is a creamy, balanced mixture of house made cashew milk, almond milk and coconut milk. Expect rotating flavours from Turmeric to Matcha to Coconut Ash and Acai with lots of toppings to keep it fun.
Vancouver is a city of ice cream lovers, and the options reflect the growing demand for one of the world’s most celebrated comforts. Next time your frozen treat cravings hit, give one of these dairy free scoops a go and you might just find your cravings change for these delicious plant based options.