This food truck’s not new; if anything, Like No Udder — the world’s first vegan soft serve food truck — blends into the hip College Hill scene more than any other mobile feeder on the block. The purple, polka-dotted truck is about as funky as it gets, and so is what’s going on inside of it.
Meet Karen Krinsky (left below), the brains, talent, and resident vegan behind it all:
Karen and I first met when I spotted Like No Udder from a distance on Thayer Street. As a vegan and fro-yo/soft serve lover myself, the truck had my name written all over it. Though I went over with one mission — to finally experience the foods I had missed since going vegan — I was easily detoured by Karen’s and my fifteen-minute conversation about the truck and her other experiences. Like No Udder is a two-for-one deal: Karen is just as awesome as all of the delicious treats she serves.
If you’re a struggling vegan, a curious foodie, or a lover of food trucks, read our chat with Karen about all things Like No Udder below:
BlogDH: Can you tell us a little bit about your food truck?
Karen: Like No Udder is the world’s first (and I believe still only) vegan soft serve ice cream truck. We are entering our fifth season, primarily focusing on Providence on weekdays, with events throughout the state and nearby [areas] on weekends. The mission of LNU is to provide delicious frozen desserts that just happen to be dairy-free. We offer vanilla and chocolate soft serve, shakes, floats, frozen lemonade (3 flavors), candy bars and meatless jerky. Of course many of my customers are dairy-free, vegan/vegetarian or gluten-free, but another part of my customer base are simply people who want a tasty, healthier alternative to traditional soft serve.
Karen: Living in New England, we have a very seasonal flow to the food industry, especially cold treats. A truck just seemed like the natural fit for the products I serve. Instead of paying rent for five months on a store front in the off season, the truck operates April to October during optimal weather. I like the idea of a brick and mortar business, but the truck is all I want to commit to right now. Ultimately, I would love to see LNU trucks in other states. Being mobile has pros and cons, but the greatest benefit is working events. I love being part of community fun, and people are always happy to see me. Soft serve just makes people happy!
BlogDH: What’s your personal background with food and veganism?
Karen: I’ve worked various food jobs over the years: catering, managing a cafe/deli, running my own vegan baking business. I became vegetarian at age 10 and vegan at 17. It’s the driving force in my life, and I am grateful that it led to a career. I get to live my principles through my business. Not a lot of people get to say that.
BlogDH: Why should people go vegan?
Karen: Wow, this’ll be a long answer, but in a nut shell… veganism covers all bases: respect for health, animals, the environment, and people. It’s an everyday stand against the industry of using animals. It’s a vote for treating the earth better by using grain and water to better serve the world’s population (meat takes a huge amount of resources to produce exponentially little in return). It’s a diet shown to result in reversal of some forms of diabetes and heart disease and can bring about weight loss. And I do feel that at its core, when people learn to respect animals and the environment, it directly results in a more peaceful world.
BlogDH: Do you incorporate your passion for eco- and animal-friendly eating and living into any other aspects of your life?
Karen: I pretty much live my life in an eco-friendly way as much as possible. It’s just part of my nature. For the last 20 years, I have been taking my picture in front of every veg restaurant I eat at, and then they get posted on Facebook for people to get inspired. I think when people see how much good stuff is out there, it makes veganism seem not so difficult. And ultimately, it’s a very easy way to live.
BlogDH: What is your favorite vegan food? What is your favorite treat we can get at Like No Udder?
Karen: My favorite vegan food, that’s a tough one. I can pretty much eat avocado sushi any day. Also, almost any form of noodles works for me–pasta, ramen, rice noodles. My favorite Like No Udder treat is the chocolate peanut butter shake. The combination of coconut milk, chocolate soft serve and peanut butter is a natural match (Ed. Speaking as a non-vegetarian, it’s unreal).
BlogDH: Can you recommend a few great vegan-friendly places on or near College Hill for Brown students to try?
Karen: Some of my favorite veg-friendly places in the area are Veggie Fun (downtown Providence, pan-Asian cuisine), Nice Slice Pizza (vegan slices, sandwiches and whole pies), Gordito Burrito (lots of veg options) and Abyssinia (Ethiopian cuisine on Wickenden)… there are certainly many more. Maybe students can venture up to the Providence/Pawtucket line on a Saturday and visit Rasoi for an all you can eat vegan/gluten-free buffet and then follow it up with a treat from Wildflour vegan bakery.
BlogDH: Now, the big question: how did you think of a name as clever as “Like No Udder”?
Karen: A friend of mine came up with the name in her sleep at some point before I opened. I really could not have asked for a better business name.