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Family & Friends

  • May
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Becoming a Vegan-Gelato Artisan

Posted by at 1:27 PM | Permalink | Comments (9)

imgThe week of May 2, 2011, is officially called “Hemp History Week,” and therefore, we’d like to share this personal account from proud PETA member and vegan-gelato entrepreneur Asher Radkowsky.

I went vegetarian in 1995 after watching Ruffy, a dog pal of mine, kill a mouse on the sidewalk. Realizing that the mouse was another sentient being with a soul who was out for an evening’s stroll just like I was, I resolved then and there to stop eating other animals.

This realization put me in an awful jam, because I loved ice cream but didn’t want to keep eating a dessert whose production involved enslaving cows and contributing to climate change. Nor did I want to continue clogging my arteries and spiking my blood sugar. Therefore, I decided to create a stunningly delicious, nutritious, animal- and Earth-friendly frozen dessert.

What lead me to this point? While I had earned my undergraduate degree in economics, I had found the pursuit of finance to be rather unfulfilling. One life-changing day, a friend lent me 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 for the planet—I became eager to start a green business that would benefit all life on Earth and the health of the Earth itself.

Realizing that a “green” ice cream could be my route to accomplishing these goals, I started working on developing a healthy and delicious product—no easy task!

In the summer of 2007, inspiration struck when a friend informed me that she was now drinking hemp milk.”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 fatty acids, protein, vitamins, minerals, and fiber. I also learned that hemp is an amazing plant with many, many environmentally friendly uses.

That’s when I had the idea to make vegan gelato using hemp milk (hemp seeds ground in water) as my base and agave as a low-glycemic sweetener, for an even healthier product.

Since then, I have spent many, many hours in my kitchen developing what I’d later call “Zendulgence.” With the help of a commercial gelato machine that I had purchased, I made and tasted hundreds of batches of gelato. It’s been an extremely tough job, but the results have been worth the effort.


After perfecting my recipes, I have begun commercial production. Learning the food business is extremely challenging, occasionally scary, and also quite fun. Now the fruit of my labor, Zendulgence, is available at stores in the Washington, D.C., area, and I hope to increase distribution in the coming months. I’m currently manufacturing Chocolate, Chocolate Raspberry, and Chocolate Mint, and I will soon have more flavors on the way. Almost all my ingredients are organic because I don’t want to contribute to environmental degradation by supporting the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. Check out www.zendulgence.com for more information!

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    Rob says...

    May 3rd, 2011, 4:07 pm

    Great and inspiring article. More evidence of how diverse and supremely flavorful plant-based foods can be. Hemp oil’s so good & healthy; we use it in many dishes. So smart of you to figure out a hemp seed gelato recipe! Will tell my DC friends about Zendulgence.

    Christine says...

    May 6th, 2011, 6:28 pm

    I’m over in Washington state and will keep an eye out for this sure to be successful venture!

    Michael says...

    May 6th, 2011, 6:49 pm

    You should be extremely proud of yourself for just diving into something that you knew nothing about! Inventing a product from scratch is amazing! You inspired me! And on top of that your reasons for doing it are so admirable and good-hearted. I would love to try your product but I am in Canada. I look forward to the day it will be over here!

    Michele says...

    May 6th, 2011, 7:52 pm

    I haven’t seen this product yet. But I’ll be looking for it. Thanks for the info!

    edwige says...

    May 6th, 2011, 9:14 pm

    j’aimerai y gouter,quand en France ??????????

    Suzin says...

    May 7th, 2011, 8:20 am

    Innovative! Im in Miami any Whole Foods stores distributing your product?

    Asher says...

    May 7th, 2011, 9:18 am

    Rob, Christine, and Michael:
    Thank you very much for your supportive and warm comments! I am grateful–and I hope Zendulgence will be in your neighborhood soon. Thanks again for the good wishes–Asher

    Asher says...

    May 7th, 2011, 6:29 pm

    Thanks, everyone who is writing and looking for the product! I am grateful for your good wishes and support. I’m going to do my BEST to expand distribution ASAP and as wide as possible! You can check http://www.zendulgence.com/locations.html

    Lorraine Greyvenstein says...

    May 16th, 2011, 5:09 am

    Asher Congratulations I wish you all the good fortune you deserve.
    I would like to sample your ice cream but guess it won’t be available in South Africa.

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