I’m Susanna Rönn, a 40-year-old vegan baker, food blogger, Master of Arts, and mother of two from Vaasa, the sunniest city in Finland. I’m also the Cookie Dough Vegan, because I’m a cruelty-free do-gooder, who absolutely loves American-style desserts and sweet treats. My home-baking and the contents of this site revolve around those tenets. Everything I bake is vegan, and all the recipes I share are tried and tested by me. Keep reading, and I’ll tell you more about why and how I’m the Cookie Dough Vegan.
The Cookie Dough Craze Begins
I think of myself as a big eater. I know that sounds funny, but even as a kid, I never shunned away from trying new foods. I enjoyed both the savory and the sweet stuff, though I definitely had a soft spot for sweet treats. I remember vividly how amazing grandma’s fresh baked rolls tasted with a glass of milk or how much I enjoyed munching on cream fudge or chocolate cookies. I’m still like that; I’ll have a light salad or soup for lunch and a big piece of chocolate cake for dessert. It’s just that over the years my taste has changed.
I knew that nothing would ever taste better than that.
The first big change came in the late 1990s. I traveled to Phoenix, Arizona, as a 16-year-old know-it-all to spend a high school year in the U.S. With sweat running down my back in the unrelenting desert heat, I realized not only how charmed life was in Finland, but also the amazingness of American desserts! I still remember exactly the first bite of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich, chocolate chip cookie, gooey brownie, and cinnamon roll from Cinnabon. But nothing quite beats my first spoonful of edible cookie dough – it was beyond delicious. I was on cloud nine! I knew that nothing would ever taste better than that. Scooping spoonful after spoonful of cookie dough in my mouth was like being permanently allowed to be Mommy’s little girl, spooning her bowls and pans clean of cake batter.
During the exchange year in the States, I got my first taste of many of the desserts and treats that I now bake regularly. I was completely hooked. What would life be without super soft blondies, chewy chocolate chips cookies, or sticky, creamy fudge? For me, they were – and are – mind-blowing experiences of ultimate yumminess. I was particularly drawn to the amazingness that is cookie dough, and that’s why I’m The Cookie Dough Vegan. Here on my blog, cookie dough stands for all the crazy good traditional American delicacies that I fell in love with during that year in Phoenix.
Coming Home Isn’t All Fun and Games
When Ben & Jerry’s started selling their ice-creams to the local grocery stores in 2007, edible cookie dough became a hit in Finland, too. But by then, I had gone through a lot in my personal life. After an adventurous, fun-filled foreign exchange year, however, life wasn’t exactly fun and games. High school felt like a drag, and I kept drowning my sorrows in food. I felt out of place and out of touch.
I developed a serious eating disorder. For me, it was a way out of uncomfortable life events and feelings, and largely an outcome of my personality: perfectionism, niceness, and conscientiousness. It was a coping mechanism that sheltered me from life, but luckily also one that I could learn to cope without.
Thinking back, it’s such a long time.
Bulimia nervosa kept me on a leash for 15 years. Thinking back, it’s such a long time, but life wasn’t all bad. The eating disorder was a trusted but harmful friend that I’d always give in to when faced with challenges, conflicts, or heartbreak. The rest of my life just kind of happened. I got my Master’s from the university, tried to make a career as a translator happen, jumped from one relationship to another, one apartment to another… For a long time, I was lost and unable to find my way out.
Breaking Free from an Eating Disorder by… Eating
The general consensus on eating disorders is that they’re not about food or eating. Psychologists often interpret under- or overeating as a means to control one’s splintered self-image. I do not completely agree with this. Paradoxical as it may sound, I think that eating is the best medicine when it comes to issues with eating. I could have spent the rest of my life in psychotherapy, but it wouldn’t have made much difference without getting some sense into my eating habits.
For me, becoming aware of the importance of eating was key to breaking free. I have numerous wonderful memories from my childhood that revolve around treating myself to something sweet. I cherish many of those moments deeply. That’s why admitting to having a sweet tooth isn’t a sign of weakness or illness. It can also be a way to do good to yourself. Satisfying your sweet tooth can be an indulgence, a way to pamper yourself, or offer relaxation after a tough week at work.
All eating must be meaningful.
What stands out, however, is how you satisfy that sweet tooth of yours. This slowly became clear to me after becoming a vegetarian more than ten years ago. I made the change on an unusually uneasy January night after watching the documentary Earthlings. It chronicles the horrific everyday suffering of animals raised solely for profit. All of a sudden, it dawned on me that all eating, desserts included, must be meaningful.
Slowly but securely, the leash of the eating disorder was becoming looser and softer. I had a newfound trust in doing good to myself, animals, and the world at large through my eating choices. I was breaking free from an eating disorder by eating.
Finally Transitioning into Veganism
I got married to my husband Petri in 2012, and we have two absolutely amazing daughters, born in 2014 and 2018. My love for them exceeds my vocabulary. With two young children, life can get pretty hectic, but never ever is there a dull moment. That’s for sure!
Veganism was something I thought about for a long time. For years, I educated myself on what it would mean to become a vegan. Over time, I was getting more and more certain that it was the right fit for me. My only concern was how my family would take it. Could I be a vegan and my husband and kids continue with our vegetarian lifestyle? Could we all eat the vegan meals that I’d cook? Would they like the food? Would veganism overly complicate our everyday eating?
It sounded right in every way possible.
As a vegetarian, I had given a lot of thought to the far-reaching effects of our food choices. I had sought answers to the origins of the food: where and how it had been produced and how the farmers had been treated and compensated. I had thought about the quality, naturalness, and healthfulness of the food we ate. I had considered the environmental impact of raw material production and transportation of food. By asking the questions that I was asking, I was making more conscious and informed decisions every day. It was sometimes hard to believe that food had come to represent a life of routine, safety, and balance for me.
My thought process had gradually taken me close to veganism. I was no longer able to hide from the realities. I felt obligated to seek answers to questions of fairness, profitability, and well-being when it came to the environment, animals, and other people. Looking at the big picture, I saw only one solution: to become a vegan. One and a half years ago, I was finally ready to take the plunge and utter the words “I am a vegan” out loud. It sounded right in every way possible. My husband and children have embraced the change with open minds. Today, we’re a more-or-less vegan family of four. For me personally, eating in the way that feels right has come to represent a foundation of life that will remain solid in any kind of weather.
Ambassador of Sweet Vegan Treats
After what I’ve been through in life so far, I’m proud to say that I’m The Cookie Dough Vegan. It might have originally been a quip that was jokingly uttered amongst friends, but it doesn’t take away from the fact that I’m putting my whole being into this: heart, body, and soul! I have created this site in an effort to introduce you to the easiness of vegan baking and the deliciousness of American desserts, in particular. My wish is to become an ambassador of sweet vegan treats!
It is worth pointing out that sweet treats are a part of a healthy, active lifestyle, not the sole purpose. In my everyday life, I eat high-quality, nutritious, and health-promoting meals with fresh ingredients. I try to steer clear of burgers, burritos, hotdogs, and other highly processed foods, and opt for tofu, beans, nuts, seeds, and a big pile of leafy greens. Dessert, of course, is a different thing, altogether. You shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. It’s important to remember to nurture, pamper, and do good to you, too!
I have a very active mindset, both mentally and physically. My brain is always working, and to balance that out, I love to work out. I do something that makes me sweat every day, because working out is the best form of therapy in addition to baking. It cheers me up, makes me strong, and keeps me driven. In order to be active, the body needs to be properly and sufficiently nurtured. Nutrition and activeness always go hand in hand and complement each other.
Finally, I want to welcome you to my site! I’m happy and honored that you have stopped by. I hope to be able to get you going with your vegan baking – and to keep coming back, of course! I’ve kept many of my recipes really simple so as to inspire even less experienced home bakers to give them a try. On a final note, it’s worth emphasizing that I always create the recipes for my sweet vegan treats with quality, sustainability, and sensibility in mind, but without compromising the mouth-watering taste experience!
I’m The Cookie Dough Vegan. You can be, too!