An ancient bean known as sweet lupin is creating new opportunities in Canada for high-protein, plant-based foods — including a vegan form of soft serve being sold at one of Winnipeg’s most iconic ice cream stands.
“We started selling it this year. The feedback has been great,” said Justin Jacob, owner of the Bridge Drive-In, famous since 1957 for its soft-serve ice cream.
“Last week, we sold out of the non-dairy mix. … It’s definitely a higher volume than our old non-dairy product that we were offering before.”
The ingredients in traditional ice cream, which include cream, butterfat, milk and eggs, make it a no-go for vegans and those with lactose intolerance or dairy allergies.
Lupin soft serve gives them a tasty alternative, says Jacob.
“We can now still kind of mimic exactly a banana split or whatever you’re used to getting,” he said. “You can still kind of keep your dietary restriction but substitute in all non-dairy products.”
A rich, creamy texture
Bridge Drive-In, or BDI as it’s known to locals, has for years offered a vegan option made from a U.S.-sourced coconut powder, but Jacob didn’t like the taste or the texture.
Demand for dairy alternatives has been growing, so several years ago, he partnered with John Thoroski at the University of Manitoba’s Dairy Science Pilot Plant, which operates as both a classroom for agriculture students and a development lab for commercial clients.
They tried making soft serve with peas, beans and other legumes. They had the most success with oat milk, but they couldn’t find a place to buy the product in bulk, and it was too expensive to purchase from the grocery store.