What do vegans eat? #3: Ice cream

“What, is there vegan ice cream?!” is a question I’ve heard many times. The answer to that question is simply put just “YES”! There’s quite a few different vegan ice creams out there, usually based on soy, oat or rice, or simply based on fruits or juices. Since it’s summer and we’ve had many weeks with nice sunny weather in Finland (after we had snow here in Helsinki in the end of June!), I felt that it will fit to do a post on ice cream.

There’s a whole bunch of vegan ice creams in the normal grocery stores, the larger ones usually have the biggest selection, but  smaller stores usually carry some vegan ice creams as well. The site “Vegaanituotteet” lists all the available vegan ice creams in Finnish grocery stores here (you don’t necessarily have to be able to understand Finnish to use the list). Some ice cream stands also carry vegan ice creams (Ingman and Sia, for example).

Sweet vegan ice cream

You can also make your own, very simple, ice cream based on frozen banana and plant-based milk that you mix in a blender until smooth and proper consistency. You can flavor it any way you want, maybe with cocoa if you want chocolate flavor, or vanilla powder for vanilla. Your imagination is the only thing that is stopping you! Just be aware that this ice cream melts quickly, so it should be eaten immediately.

If you have an ice cream maker it is of course possible to make even more different kinds of vegan ice creams. I don’t own one, so I don’t know much when it comes to this, but someone who does is the blogger behind Kamomillan konditoria, which you could check out if you understand Finnish. If you don’t, the rest of the internet is still full of recipes of all kinds. Good luck!

Earlier in the “What do vegans eat?”-series:
#1: Tofu
#2: Plant-based milk and cream

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Is it vegan?

Changing old habits is always hard, and taking the step towards becoming vegan is no different. It’s hard to know what to cook instead of your old favorite dishes, which cosmetics are animal-friendly, or which fabrics you should avoid when buying clothes. Finding the vegan alternatives in the jungle of products is confusing and might seem overwhelming. On top of that people around you are most likely questioning your decision.

All in all, becoming vegan is not easy. But it’s worth it – for the animals, the environment and your own health – and there is a lot of information out there to help you on your way. Here in Finland we have a great website that lists most of the vegan foods sold in normal grocery stores (click the picture to get to the website):

Vegaanituotteet

Apart from listings of most of the vegan foods, the website also contains different lists that can help you as a new vegan (or even as a long time vegan!), such as a list of animal-friendly cosmetics, and lists of non-vegan E-numbers and ingredients. The website is kept up by an individual person so it’s of course not perfect and all available vegan products are not necessarily mentioned. For example, the website doesn’t contain products sold in organic food stores or other specialized stores. However, it is still incredibly helpful for anyone living in or visiting Finland, not only for you as a vegan but also for your families and friends. Giving them this link might help them to know what to buy when they want to treat you for a meal or a coffee, but they are unsure what you will eat.

The website is of course in Finnish, but there is a short summary in English under the link “In English”.

Do other countries have any similar website? It would be interesting to know!

In the face of change

I’m sorry for the silence lately, I’ve been so busy with life that the blog has been of less priority. Now we are however all moved in to our new apartment in Helsinki, our wedding is in the past (yes, I just got married – more about that and the great vegan food we had during the wedding in another post), and next week I start my new job.

I’ve just been in Helsinki for a few days now, except the visits I’ve made during the last month since R moved down here. I’m a countryside girl and my thought when I knew we were moving to a big city was something like “Oh no, how can I stand it with all the buildings, traffic, people and busyness?”, but the fact is that I pretty much love the area where we live already. It’s close to the water and beaches, it has several parks and other nature areas and nice places to go walking or running, and still it only takes about 15 minutes to go to the city center by public transport. I think I can enjoy my life here.

The fact that Helsinki is a bigger city also means more options of vegan food, products and restaurants, which I haven’t had time to check out that much yet, but I will, sooner or later. One place that I have had time to visit though, is the all vegan store Heluna Shop in Sörnäinen (Torkkelinkatu 3C, close to the metro station). It’s small and cosy and the woman working there when we visited was very friendly. The store sells some food stuffs, shoes, hygiene products, household products, cosmetics, books, vitamins and even dog food – all vegan. The store is open Tuesdays 1 pm- 7 pm, Wednesdays and Thursdays 1 pm- 5 pm and Saturdays 10 am- 2 pm. Check it out if you happen to be in Helsinki! If you’re not, but live somewhere else in Finland or in Europe they also have an online shop.

The easiest way to recognize cruelty-free products

As a continuation to my last post about animal testing, I wanted to do this quick post about recognizing non-animal tested and vegan products. Companies always want to sound as ethical as possible, and they might paint up a picture of themselves that is not entirely true. A company might for example say that they don’t test their products on animals, but in their case this just means that their final products in not animal tested, but the ingredients in it are.

Finding products with only plant-based ingredients might also be a jungle, because there are tons of animal-derived ingredients in the products we use every day. Some of them have long and complicated names, and there is just no way that you will learn them all by heart. I do have a list with all these ingredients so that I can check if products I buy have them, but sometimes there is an ingredient that might be animal-based, plant-based or synthetic, and there is no way of knowing unless you ask the company. So it is just easiest to stick to the companies that only use vegan ingredients in their products.

There are two main symbols you can look for on a product to ensure it is cruelty-free before buying it:

The leaping bunny

Companies who’s products carry this symbol have not used animal tests in any part of the production.

The vegan logo

There are several different logos that tell you the product doesn’t contain any animal ingredients or that a company is vegan, but the one above (from The Vegan Society) is the most common one. This symbol also indicates that the product has not been animal tested. It is not only found on cosmetics and household products, but also on foods, clothes and other products.

 

All non-animal tested and vegan products will not carry these logos, even though most of them do carry at least one of them by now. There are lists of non-animal tested products made up by different animal rights organisations, as I mentioned in my last post the Finnish organisation Animalia has a list for non-animal tested cosmetics and household products. (However, all products on this list are not free from animal ingredients, only those marked with a “V” as in “Vegan”.) Check with animal rights organisations in your country for lists that are up to date there, but remember also to check what criteria they have for including a company on their list, since some organisations are stricter than others (for example, some might include companies that don’t test their final products on animals, but there might be animal testing earlier on in the process).

Trying out new vegan foods: “Frankenberger” sausage from Wheaty

Our local organic food store had some new (as in new to me and the store) vegan sausages in store last time we went there, so we decided to try them. The sausages are made by Wheaty, a German company that makes vegan meat based on organic wheat gluten. We don’t really eat a lot of these ready-made foods, and in the town where we live there are not either that much of these around, but it is nice to try some every now and then.

veganwurst veganwurst

The sausages did not look that appetizing in the package because of their grey colour, but the taste was really fine. We fried them for a while in a little oil and had them together with french fries and a salad as our “special treat”. Because of the price (this package of 200 g cost 5 euro) this is maybe not something you will enjoy every day, but it is still something I could buy again some other time.

vegan sausage and french fries