Vegan cuisine: a soft serve that can serve everyone in Maine
After a bumpy start last season, Maine’s vegan scene has expanded this summer. With dozens upon dozens of Maine scoop shops now offering vegan hard serve, which is different this season, it’s newly installed dedicated vegan serve machines in at least four other ice cream shops, bringing the total twist points of herbal sweetness. at least five.
In 2021, food truck Curbside Comforts (now a storefront in Gorham) attempted to offer vegan service, but found the temperature on the truck was too hot for the machine to work. Also last summer, a scoop store in Gray advertised 30 vegan flavors of soft cream before learning that the mix it was using contained hidden cow’s milk. Then in the fall, vegetarian restaurant Boja’s Bungalow opened in Greenville and began offering vegan oatmeal dishes.
Soft serve is only available from scoop stores, never in pints, and requires a special machine that combines air with flavors and chilled ice cream mix to create the distinctive, softer ice cream. As Gray’s scoop store learned the hard way, mixes labeled “dairy-free” sometimes use that label inaccurately and actually contain ingredients made from cow’s milk.
This confusing situation can create problems for unsuspecting businesses – for example, prompting the Gray store to apologize to its customers – and potential health problems for customers unable to digest lactose. All of the scoop shops listed here have assured me that they use a vegan mix rather than one labeled “dairy free”.
In my conversations with ice cream parlor owners, I learned that while vegans strongly influence the demand for plant-based ice cream, a major segment of the market comes from children and adults who avoid cow’s milk. According to a 2017 report published in the medical journal The Lancet, after infancy, approximately 68% of the world’s population is unable to digest lactose, the sugar in cow’s milk. The exception to this rule is found among people of Northern European ancestry.
So whether you’re vegan, lactose intolerant, or just looking for something new to try, there’s still time to enjoy a sweet and curvy treat at one of these shops before the season ends.
THE BOJA BUNGALOW
36 Pritham Ave, Greenville
THE FLAVOURS: vanilla and chocolate
CONES: Cake cones, waffle cones and gluten-free cones
VEGAN TOPPINGS: Gluten-free chocolate chips, gluten-free granola, strawberries, chia seeds, hemp seeds, walnuts and almonds
OTHER NOTABLES: Everything on the menu at this vegetarian restaurant can be vegan, and it also offers cold-pressed juices and smoothies.
GOOD TO KNOW: The restaurant’s seasonal closing date has yet to be determined, but it will likely be early November.
COMFORT AT THE EDGE OF VIEW
680 Gray Road, Gorham
THE FLAVOURS: Vanilla, chocolate, a twist of both, or rotating flavors including bubblegum, strawberry, blueberry, tutti-frutti, watermelon, and peach
CONES: Gluten Free Cake Cones, Waffle Cones, Waffle Bowls & Cones
VEGAN TOPPINGS: Rainbow Chips, Chocolate Chips, and Chocolate, Cherry, and Blue Raspberry Dips
OTHER NOTABLES: The scoop shop makes soft serve shakes in flavors such as strawberry, hot fudge, blueberry and pineapple with an option of a hot fudge drizzle inside the shake cup.
GOOD TO KNOW: Curbside Comforts plans to remain open year-round.
244 Log Cabin Road, Arundel
THE FLAVOURS: Vanilla and sometimes chocolate
CONES: Cake cones, gluten free cones, vanilla waffle cones and chocolate waffle cones
VEGAN TOPPINGS: Chopped fresh fruit, fruit sauce, crumbled chocolate sandwich cookies, naturally dyed sprinkles, cocoa nibs, granola and hot fudge
OTHER NOTABLES: The shop offers a hot fudge sundae topped with a chocolate zucchini brownie, hot fudge, and sprinkles of a cherry on top.
GOOD TO KNOW: The popularity of vegan ice cream means the machine can move indoors as the farm shop moves from the open-air summer building to its winter display case, making it possible to offer ice cream all the year.
SALT + SOCIAL PEPPER
67 Main Street, Newcastle
THE FLAVOURS: vanilla and chocolate
CONES: cake way
VEGAN TOPPINGS: Rainbow sprinkles, chocolate chips and rotating toppings, including crumbled chocolate sandwich cookies and spiced nuts
OTHER NOTABLES: Soon, the store will be making single-serve ice cream cakes.
GOOD TO KNOW: The new all-vegan boutique, bakery and take-out sandwich shop will remain open all winter. The shop will also be open on the Saturday and Sunday of Damariscotta Pumpkinfest in October.
VEGGIE LIFE AT MAINELY CUSTARD
150 U.S. Route 1, Freeport
THE FLAVOURS: Vanilla, chocolate or a twist of both
CONES: Cake cones, sugar cones, waffle cones, waffle bowls, gluten free cake cones and gluten free sugar cones
VEGAN TOPPINGS: Homemade hot fudge and caramel, whipped cream, peanut butter, rainbow sprinkles, peanut butter cups, yummy bears, chocolate chips, cookie dough, nuts and dips including pineapple, strawberry, blueberry and raspberry
OTHER NOTABLES: Veggie Life offers shakes and sundaes, including the Turtle Sundae, with hot fudge, caramel, whipped cream and nuts.
GOOD TO KNOW: After Labor Day, the days and hours will be reduced. The business will close for the season after Indigenous Peoples Day on October 10. On October 8, Veggie Life is sponsoring the first-ever 5k road race to benefit Freedom’s New Equine Sanctuary, operated by Peace Ridge Sanctuary in Brooks. All runners who visit the shop before its seasonal closing will receive a free soft serve ice cream.
Avery Yale Kamila is a food writer who lives in Portland. She can be reached at