There's a new all-inclusive ice cream shop in Chapel Hill. Vegan Ice Cream Man, founded in 2019, serves plant-based ice cream that is dairy, egg, cruelty and nut free.
The founder, Theodore Chatfield, has always had a passion for ice cream. The shop officially opened in September.
“In New York City, an ice cream truck would come through my neighborhood about two to three times a day," Chatfield said. "As I kid, I became fascinated by it because when he would come, I felt like he had super powers.”
He started in the frozen dessert business when he was young, working for his grandmother’s shaved ice push cart in New York City. At 16, he rented an ice cream truck because he had always wanted to sell ice cream.
At 19, Chatfield purchased a soft serve ice cream truck and worked this truck in NYC until he was 32. He then moved his truck to Raleigh, where he operated it for another two years.
Although he's been vegetarian since he was 17, he decided to go vegan when he was 33.
"When I became a vegan, it was really hard for me to sell dairy ice cream to people," Chatfield said. "I no longer believed in the product. It kind of felt like I was selling people poison."
After 10 years without ice cream, Chatfield said he had a dream about making ice cream without dairy, nuts, soy and gluten. He worked on his recipe for three years, and the rest is history.
Chatfield said he wants to encourage others to adopt veganism through his ice cream shop.
“I thought if I could make this ice cream then it would be my contribution, and hopefully people would use it as a tool to transition because it’s such a popular dessert,” Chatfield said. “If I can make an ice cream that is nut free, soy free, dairy free and also loved by all, then maybe I can help some people transition into the vegan world.”
Overall, both Chatfield and CEO Fatima Wyche said they want the business to bring people happiness.
“We really enjoy spreading love through our product,” Wyche said. “We have a passion for health, we have a passion for loving others and the community through our product and we just love what we do.”
Additionally, Chatfield said he hopes the ice cream is something everyone can enjoy as it encompasses all diets.
“I just want the brand to be an inclusive brand, meaning it’s for everyone, so that was included in the thoughts when I was making the recipe,” Chatfield said.
The ice cream is made from carefully chosen ingredients that reflect the mission of the brand with the goal of feeding the soul.
“In order to demonstrate love for our bodies and life, we have to put love inside of it, so we put love in our products as well,” Wyche said. “One of the things that we are looking forward to is locally sourcing our ingredients to support the community and having more opportunities to partner with other local businesses and organizations to share our passion.”
Reagan Fleeher, a sophomore at UNC, is vegan. She said she is thrilled to hear about the new shop.
“It’s so exciting when new vegan options and vegan businesses pop up in the area because it can be hard to find options sometimes,” Fleeher said.
Vegan Ice Cream Man currently has a food truck located at 102 S. Merritt Mill Road. Chatfield said they will soon have an online ordering option to deliver throughout the Triangle.
Wyche said she hopes Vegan Ice Cream Man can help inspire and support the community.
“We kind of consider ourselves change agents of love, and we just hope to do it one scoop or one pint at a time,” Wyche said.
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