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Is Shaved Ice Vegan? Can Vegans Eat Shaved Ice?

Is Shaved Ice Vegan? Can Vegans Eat Shaved Ice?

Answer: Yes.

Is Shaved Ice Vegan? Can Vegans Eat Shaved Ice?

If you are following a vegan diet, you probably wonder whether it is safe to eat shaved ice. As pure shaved ice does not contain dairy or animal products, it is entirely vegan.

Traditional shaved ice combines water, fruit purees, fruit juice, and sweet condiments that are entirely vegan. So, as long as you are careful with toppings and additional ingredients, shaved ice is 100% vegan. 

Read on to learn about different ingredients to avoid to make sure any shaved ice you buy or make is entirely vegan.

Shaved Ice – A Brief Description

Shaved ice is a large family of ice-based desserts made from finely crushed ice and flavored syrup or sweet condiments. This dessert is quite famous worldwide and has different names in different countries.

In the 1880s, when Japanese immigrants arrived in Hawaii to work on sugar plantations, they brought sweetened shaved ice or kaki-gori. It quickly became a popular staple on the island and can now be enjoyed worldwide.

Many people confuse shaved ice with “Italian ice.” However, both staples are pretty different. In Italian ice, the flavors are incorporated into the water before it is frozen. On the other hand, shaved ice is often flavored after the ice has been shaved.

Popular Toppings for Vegan Shaved Ice

Basic shaved ice contains water and flavored syrup. People use tons of toppings to make this dessert more cheerful and delicious. Fortunately, there are several vegan options available for shaved ice. 

Following are some of the most popular vegan-friendly shaved ice toppings:

Glass Jelly

Similar to Asian gelatin, this minty treat is like wheatgrass. As glass jelly does not contain gelatin, it is perfect for vegan shaved ice.

Frosted Flakes

Frosted flakes are surely not the healthiest option for your shaved ice, but they do not contain animal-based ingredients. In Southeast Asian countries, adding frosted flakes on top of shaved ice is surprisingly popular.

Chocolate Chips

Not all chocolate chips are vegan, and some contain dairy products. Therefore, proceed with caution on this one.


An odd one, but if you love pickles, you might love adding sliced pickles on top of your cherry or strawberry shaved ice. Pickle as a topping is quite popular in Southwest US, where it is popular as a Piccadilly snow cone.

Sweetened Coconut Milk

Sweetened coconut milk is entirely vegan. This ingredient adds a delicious and creamy dimension to your shaved ice. You can combine coconut milk with other toppings to achieve a perfect finishing touch.


For health enthusiasts, pineapple is one of the best toppings available. With this ingredient, you can make a mouth-watering and healthy dessert simply by adding pineapple juice over your shaved ice.

Mochi Balls

Mochi balls are made of glutinous rice, which is entirely vegan. This sweet dessert is typically filled with matcha paste, red beans, or other sweetened sauces.

Adzuki Beans

Another ingredient that deserves a spot on our list is adzuki beans. Adzuki beans are quite popular in Japanese, and Hawaiian-styled shaved ice. For shaved ice, these beans are boiled with sugar to sweeten them.

Ingredients to Avoid in Your Shaved Ice

The essential ingredients of saved ice are entirely vegan and cruelty-free. However, there are some ingredients you should avoid when ordering shaved ice, such as:

Whipped Cream

Whipped coconut cream is a perfect vegan alternative to whipped cream. Whipped cream is a milk-based product. Therefore, you should avoid whipped cream while making or buying shaved ice.

Marshmallow Cream

Marshmallow creams like “fluff” contain egg whites and are surely non-vegan. So while ordering vegan shaved ice, avoid marshmallow cream or go for vegan marshmallow fluff.

Ice Cream

Ice cream is one of the most common toppings for shaved ice. Asian and Hawaiian-style shaved ice often contains a scoop of ice cream at the top or the bottom. Skip this topping in your dessert unless they offer a vegan, milk-free ice cream option.

Vegan ice creams are usually made of soy, coconut, rice, or almond. They taste great on your shaved ice and have several health benefits.

Evaporated Milk

Evaporated milk is thicker than regular milk and is derived from evaporation. Unlike condensed milk, it isn’t as thicker or sweetened. Especially in Halo-Halo shaved ice, evaporated milk is used as a topping. For vegan-friendly shaved ice, we recommend using unsweetened or sweetened coconut milk. 

Condensed Milk

Condensed milk is a no-no for vegans. Instead of condensed milk, you can use condensed coconut milk as a shaved ice topping. This milk is often mentioned as a “snow cap” and is used in Hawaiian-styled shaved ice.

Is Shaved Ice Healthy?

Like all other vegan products, shaved ice has hundreds of health benefits. This dessert is famous worldwide, from Central America to Asia. Due to its popularity, it’s rational to ask, is shaved ice healthy? 

To answer this question, below, we have compiled a list of some of the most significant health-related issues of shaved ice:

Shaved Ice and Dehydration

Shaved ice is the perfect dessert for you if you suffer from pica, iron deficiency, or anemia. Shaved ice can help you rehydrate and lower your body temperature. In addition, this dessert offers needed moisture to your mouth and lips.

Symptoms of dehydration include darker-colored urine, less urination, a dry mouth, and thirst. By consuming shaved ice, you can eliminate these symptoms. However, you probably require emergency medical care if you have severe dehydration.

Shaved Ice and Added Sugar

While shaved ice is vegan, safe to eat, and refreshing, eating too much can harm your health. As this dessert is loaded with added sugar, too much intake can cause several health problems. 

According to American Health Association, sugar can cause obesity epidemics and weight gain. Because shaved ice contains flavored syrup, which is rich in added sugar, you should try to limit your dessert intake.

Shaved Ice and Iron Levels

According to a journal issued by Medical Case Reports, there is a relation between ice and low iron level. If you have a higher iron level, there will be less craving for ice. However, if you eat too much shaved ice, that might reduce your iron level.

Eating too much shaved ice will not reduce the symptoms of anemia or iron deficiency, in which you don’t have enough red blood cells. However, following a diet rich in iron can help. According to experts, you should have eight to eighteen milligrams of iron daily.

Shaved Ice and Pica Symptoms

Pica is most common in young children with other developmental disorders. However, it can occur in adults too. One of the most common pica symptoms is craving non-food items, including ice, sand, soap, chalk, clay, dirt, and paint. 

If you are craving shaved ice, it’s okay. However, if you are carving for regular ice, you might suffer from pica. This disorder is a serious health concern and can lead to iron deficiency or lead poisoning.

Shaved Ice and Calories

Shaved ice is a low-calorie, summer’s hot, and chilly treat. According to experts, the calorie count in a single shaved ice or snow cone serving is anywhere between 60 to 80 calories. In comparison, frozen yogurt or ice cream contains more than 100 calories per serving.

Is Shaved Ice Healthier Than Ice Cream?

Shaved ice has fewer calories than ice cream, making it a healthier option.

As the primary ingredient of shaved ice is water with no calories, it is healthier than ice cream. However, most manufacturers use artificial flavoring, fruit-flavored syrup, and other ingredients to increase caloric count. You can avoid additional toppings or use healthy fruits to control your calorie intake to create delicious, vegan shaved ice.

Pro Tip for Health Enthusiasts

How to enjoy healthier shaved cones? Well, eating a cup of sugar-free shaved ice may seem like a healthier option, but it’s useless if you are using artificial flavoring or eating too much shaved ice per day. 

If you want to enjoy healthier shaved ice, the first step is to ditch artificial flavorings. These flavorings are low in nutritional value and high in calories and sugar. Instead of artificial flavorings, you can create delicious, and 100% vegan shaved ice with fruits or fruit juice from your fridge. 

In a Nutshell

As the essential ingredients of shaved ice are water, flavoring syrup, and fruits, this dessert is entirely vegan. However, there are several ingredients you should avoid when ordering shaved ice, such as condensed milk, evaporated milk, ice cream, marshmallow cream, and whipped cream.

Instead of milk-based ingredients, you can use vegan toppings to make delicious and mouth-watering shaved ice, such as vegan chocolate chips, sweetened coconut milk, adzuki beans, mochi balls, frosted flakes, pineapple, and even sliced pickles.