Vegan Ice Cream and a Mission

by Samantha Gendler

Rhode Islander Chris Belanger doesn't think of himself as an activist, but rather as someone who spreads the vegan message one person at a time. It's something we can all do, but the vegan ice cream truck Like No Udder that he co-owns with his wife Karen has given them a moving platform. "We're injecting veganism everywhere we go," Belanger said.

Like No Udder serves non-GMO soy-based soft serve ice cream, coconut milk shakes, floats, sodas, Primal Vegan Jerky strips, and Go Max Go Candy Bars. In addition to street service, they take the truck to university events, music and arts festivals, VegFests, corporate meetings, weddings, and more. Recently, rather than attending primarily vegan festivals, which are full of people who are already vegan, Chris and Karen have started choosing very un-vegan events, like a Cinco De Mayo party for example, so that they can have more of an impact on people who may not typically be exposed to vegan food. Belanger feels a victory when there is even one fewer person in the world eating dairy. "Even if only for 5 or 10 minutes of their day, it's making a difference," he said.

Belanger dabbled with vegetarianism on and off through college, but finally made the switch when eating lobster. When tearing the body apart with his hands, he realized the barbaric nature of what he was doing and changed his habits. When he met Karen, she was vegan, and they dived into a vegan lifestyle together.

Through six seasons of running Like No Udder, Chris and Karen have met and connected a network of other vegetarians. Though there was already a local educational vegan group in their area, there weren't a lot of social vegan gatherings. They began hosting potlucks, vegan Thanksgiving dinner, raffles, and acting as a mouthpiece for other vegan groups and events through their social media pages. Belanger created a webpage called, which is a Rhode Island vegan dining guide. "We try to let people know what's new and promote places that accommodate vegans. Hopefully this encourages other businesses to add more vegan items to their menus."

Likewise, Belanger tries to educate restaurants that are incorrectly labeling food on their menu as vegan; sometimes he's successful and other times not. An Indian restaurant in his area incorrectly labeled their rice as vegan, and after being educated about the definition of the word vegan, the owner changed the menu. They were not as successful with a local Vietnamese establishment that labeled a dish with chicken broth as vegan, and they published the misinformation on "We try to spread the understanding of what vegan means and get places to fix it if they're wrong," he said. "We feel it's the right thing to do."