Top vegan ice cream spots in Vancouver
By Roshni Riar, Staff Writer
I must be honest—I love ice cream but I hate the way it makes me feel.
This poses a bit of problem in the summer when all I want is ice cream after a long, hot day. A decade ago, that meant I’d have to go to that one shelf in Whole Foods’ frozen aisle and weigh my somewhat grim options, prepared to overpay and not really enjoy myself.
Things have changed, however. Nowadays, Vancouver offers endless options for vegans and non-vegans alike—if you want to avoid dairy, I’d wager that you can comfortably do so with little to no problem.
If you’re like me and just want a treat without needing to crawl into a hole clutching your stomach afterwards, then this list of my three favourite options for vegan ice cream is for you. Even if you don’t feel that way, I guarantee you’ll find something you’ll like.
235 East Pender Street, Vancouver
Umaluma’s vegan gelato has the perfect texture and overall consistency—of any frozen vegan treat I’ve ever tried, this by far has the best mouthfeel. Each flavour is made to stand out on its own or work well paired with an additional, totally guilt-free scoop. The shop in Chinatown offers over a dozen flavours on rotation with the opportunity to sample at least three before you take the plunge.
So, I’m just going to say it: Vegan pistachio gelato. That’s right. I’d personally never seen vegan pistachio gelato before but just knowing it existed was enough to sell me on Umaluma. Their “Punk Pistachio” is made with directly sourced Sicilian pistachios and the gelato is nutty, sweet, and refreshing, yet also deep in flavour and nuance.
The gelato’s mere existence coupled with the rich, pronounced, and overall outstanding flavour and texture have been drawing me in more regularly than maybe I should admit.
Given the array of flavours that Umaluma’s quaint, brightly coloured shop offers, if pistachio isn’t for you, there’s no need to worry. Their vegan gelato is made with a variety of bases including vanilla, chocolate, fruit, nut, and more. To see what’s available before you pop by, be sure to check out their website for available flavours.
If you don’t feel like making your way down to their storefront on Pender Street, I’d recommend keeping your eyes peeled during your next trip to Whole Foods, since they sell pints of select flavours.
The only downside would be the price—depending on the flavours you select, the prices range from $8.00 to $11.50 for a double scoop. While it is pricey, I think it’s totally worth it for a special treat on a warm summer’s day.
Earnest Ice Cream
Three locations in Vancouver—1829 Quebec Street, 1485 Frances Street, and 3992 Fraser Street—and one in North Vancouver on 271 West 1st Street
I think it’s safe to say that Earnest Ice Cream is practically a Vancouver staple by now. Their non-vegan and vegan ice creams are all worth a trip to one of their many storefronts.
While the vegan ice cream selection is more limited than Umaluma, there’s a constantly rotating board of multiple flavours so there’s a strong chance that every time you visit, you’ll be able to try something new.
The vegan Cookies + Cream is by far my favourite. It’s a simple but nostalgic flavour and the bits of crunchy, chocolate cookie mixed throughout the sweet coconut cream base is delicious as an after-dinner treat.
Earnest’s Frances Street shop sometimes has vegan ice cream sandwiches available—so if you’re ever in the area, I’d highly recommend stopping by to see what they have in stock. Alternatively, if you’re feeling extra fancy, you could splash out for a sundae.
Earnest updates their website daily to list the available flavours, so if there’s one that you’re specifically looking for, you’ll know exactly which location to head to in order to cure that craving.
Earnest’s prices are reasonable and if you feel like buying a pint, be sure to bring back your clean jar once you’re done for $1 off your next purchase. Earnest’s pints are available in several stores across the Lower Mainland, from Donald’s to Whole Foods.
Say Hello Sweets
Search for the cute, pastel-coloured ice cream truck!
Getting yourself a sweet, refreshing treat from Say Hello Sweets is the perfect way to get back in touch with your inner child—who didn’t love hunting down the local ice cream truck in the summer heat with a handful of change?
Keep your eyes peeled for the adorable white and pink coloured truck riding around the city. You can find Say Hello Sweets often parked at farmers markets or street events but if you’re feeling really determined, I’d suggest checking their Instagram to see where they’ll be when you need them. If that’s not your speed, then check their website to see the many places around Vancouver that carry their ice cream.
All Say Hello Sweet’s ice creams are vegan, with a coconut milk base. If you’re lucky, you might be able to snag one of their highly sought-after Ice Dream sandwiches.
Café-No Lait is my absolute favourite flavour—with medium roast espresso mixed into the ice cream base, a scoop of it is like drinking a sweet, smooth coffee. The creamy, sugary ice cream base is a great balance to the dark, rich coffee accent and makes for a great pick-me-up on a hot day. If coffee doesn’t suit your fancy, then there are plenty of flavours to choose from—staples like Vanilla & Co and Chocolate Nirvana or more funky recipes like Stay Mallow (yes, with actual marshmallows) and Lemon Squeezy.
Prices range from $7 per Ice Cream sandwich to $11 for a cube-shaped pint. Scoops out of the truck are cheaper, varying by the flavour and if there are any special flavours being offered. Wherever you find Say Hello Sweets, you’re likely to find other local vendors with lots to offer, so I highly recommend seeking them out and making a day out of it.