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Vegan in the Region

The number of non-dairy ice cream options is growing and with it, a happier and healthier group of consumers.

When I stopped eating meat back in the late 1980's, there were few food items available and even less choices when it came to personal and home cleaning products that were free of both animal products and animal testing.

It used to be that I would have to go a health food store to find the few options that were out there.

But boy have times changed.

It's been fascinating watching the number of vegan, vegetarian and cruelty-free products multiply in the aisles of just about every grocery, department and convenience store.

While I don't eat a lot of these processed food items — preferring healthier whole foods — I do have a few favorites I want to share.

One that is tough for me to pass by is the Silk-brand chocolate soy milk. I have tried all the other varieties of chocolate non-dairy milks, but nothing even comes close to this sugary, chocolaty, creamy dream of a treat.

Speaking of non-dairy milks, seems like each time I am at the grocery store a new variety pops up. (I recently spotted banana milk.) I really like the Good Karm Flaxmilk, but be sure to check out the unsweetened versions of whatever you choose to avoid crazy high levels of sugar.

I am also a big fan of the various non-meat hot dogs, including Smart Dogs and Tofurky dogs. They taste great and provide all the comfort of the original without the pain, ill health effects and mystery meat products.

My favorite non-dairy butter-like spreads are those offered by Earth Balance. But I have noticed that other, more mainstream brands are now offering non-dairy versions. The big companies are following the dollars!

While I typically freeze peeled bananas and toss them in a food processor with fruit or cacao powder to make a healthy and great-tasting ice cream substitute, I do enjoy splurging once in a great while on vegan ice cream. One great tasting choice is Ben & Jerry's, but be prepared for sticker shock at about $6 a pint.

I am not a big fan of vegan burgers, nuggets and cheese, but you will find lots of varieties of those foods as well.

It's getting easier all the time to leave meat and other animal products behind.

The opinions expressed here are solely that of the author.

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Porter/LaPorte county reporter

Bob is a 23-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.