My Quest for Healthy Ice Cream: Becoming a Vegan Gelato Artisan | Business
I was in an awful jam; one that you may be in, yourself.
I loved ice cream so much that when I would buy a pint, I would eat a pint. No need for freezer space. As soon as I got it home from the store, it was gone.
For years I knew that I had to find a way out. I didn’t want to gain weight, clog my arteries, or spike my blood sugar…all eventualities from the “pint-of-ice-cream-daily” diet. Nor did I want to contribute to enslaving cows or warming the globe, two unfortunate side effects of milk production.
What to do?
Searching for a stunningly delicious, nutritious, animal-and-earth-friendly frozen dessert, I came up empty-handed. My conclusion: I would have to create this product myself.
As I pondered how to proceed, I realized that I had finally found my green business idea.
Some background: While I earned my undergraduate degree in economics from the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, I had found the pursuit of finance to be rather soulless, and ultimately got a doctorate in clinical psychology. For the past ten years, I have had a private practice in Cleveland Park, working with individuals and couples.
While I love my work as a psychologist, a few years back I read Paul Hawken's "The Ecology of Commerce: A Declaration of Sustainability". Inspired by Hawken’s message, that the pursuit of commerce can actually be an enormously powerful force of positive change for human societies and for the planet, I became eager to start a green business: One that would benefit all life on earth, and the health of the earth itself.
Realizing that a "green" ice cream could be my route toward accomplishing these goals, all I had to do was develop a healthy and delicious product—no easy task!
In the Summer of 2007, inspiration struck. On the checkout line with a fellow soymilk-drinking vegetarian friend, I was browsing through an "Utne Reader" article detailing the health problems associated with soy.
"Don't worry," my friend told me when I shared what I was reading. "I've been off soy and drinking hemp milk for months now."
"How do you make milk out of a rope?" I asked. I vaguely thought that hemp was either heavy rope or a fancy word for marijuana.
Very soon, I learned that hemp is the low-THC cousin of marijuana, and that hemp seeds are powerfully nutritious, packed with omega-3 fat, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. I also learned that hemp is an amazing plant that can provide environmentally-friendly alternatives for almost all of humankind's needs.
That's when I conceived the idea to make vegan gelato, using hemp milk (hemp seeds ground in water) as my base and, for an even healthier product, agave as a low-glycemic sweetener.
Since then, I have spent many, many hours in my kitchen developing Zendulgence, with the help of a commercial gelato machine I purchased. Making and tasting hundreds of batches of gelato has been an extremely rough job, but the results have been worth the effort. I now have the gelato of my dreams: the more I eat, the better!
In recent months, after perfecting my recipes, I connected with a local gelato company and have begun commercial production. Learning the food business is extremely challenging, often scary, and quite a bit of fun. I’m having a wonderful time going back and forth between my psychology practice and my new role as a vegan gelato artisan.
And I hope that Zendulgence will be a wonderful treat for anyone who is vegan, dairy/soy/gluten intolerant, on a low-glycemic diet…or simply yearning to eat as much creamy, delicious ice cream as they want to!
Zendulgence comes in five flavors: Chocolate! (the exclamation mark is intentional—this is a very serious chocolate), Chocolate Raspberry, Chocolate Mint, Gianduja (Chocolate Hazelnut), and Pistachio. It is becoming available in restaurants and stores in the Washington D.C. area. Check out www.zendulgence.com to find out where!