My Vegan Journey (Plus a Recipe for Dairy-Free Strawberry and Vanilla “Nice” Cream)

I write a food blog, manage a smartphone recipe app, and am a few months shy of getting my masters degree in public health nutrition. Like many of us who read the Food & Nutrition Magazine's Stone Soup blog, my passion is all things wellness, food and nutrition.

Ironically, nearly three years ago, my decision to adopt a vegan lifestyle had nothing to do with health. Sure, I was aware of the research showing the benefits of a meat-free diet and a reduced risk of developing heart disease and diabetes, but I was young and didn't yet have a fear of those diseases.

The call for me to become a vegan came after reading The Kind Diet by Alicia Silverstone. This was the first time I really thought about the realities of factory farming and animal suffering in a way that touched my very core. Within days of finishing the book, I decided to become a vegan.

After the initial excitement wore off, my veganism grew in ways I never expected. A few months later, I read the book Eat to Live by Dr. Joel Fuhrman. It argues that a primarily plant-based diet is best for optimal health. I cut back on the processed vegan food and significantly increased my intake of vegetables. Within a few months, my chronic migraines, allergies, anxiety and excess weight disappeared, and I was feeling my best ever.

Then, two years into my new lifestyle, I was diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Depression, shame and betrayal ensued. Why hadn't my meat-free diet protected me from this diagnosis? Was I a vegan- and health-advocate failure for having gotten cancer? Aside from making plans for surgery to remove the malignant tumor, I experienced a turbulent battle with my emotions.

I learned later that thyroid cancer often takes years to develop and there was no way to figure out why it appeared when it did. After I had the surgery to remove my thyroid and was told by my doctors that I was cancer-free, I was able to understand that my veganism was so much more than my own food choices.

Now, as I approach my third year of being vegan, I appreciate that the passion for continuing my life as a vegan is based on the very reason why I became a vegan: a deep love and respect for living beings and a desire to reduce suffering. Many people call this "ethical veganism" and it accurately describes my desire to live a compassionate life, all while enjoying the cruelty-free, whole plant-foods that are as nutritious as they are delicious…like this vegan "ice cream."

Strawberry and Vanilla "Nice" Cream

Recipe by Carrie Forrest

You'll need an ice-cream maker for this recipe, but this "nice" cream using coconut milk as a base is a wonderful alternative to a traditional dairy-based ice cream.


1 13.5-ounce can full-fat coconut milk
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
1 1/2 cups pitted Medjool dates
1 pint strawberries
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 vanilla bean


  1. Place the can of coconut milk in the refrigerator until chilled thoroughly.
  2. Combine coconut milk, soy milk, dates, strawberries, vanilla extract and the seeds of the vanilla bean in a high-speed blender and process until smooth.
  3. Pour the mixture into the base of an ice cream maker and freeze according to the manufacturer's instructions.

Please note: If you like this recipe, you can find 100 more on Vegan Delish, my recipe app for iPhones and iPads.

Carrie Forrest
Carrie Forrest, MPH, blogs at