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Thursday, February 14, 2019

Plant-Based Eating Hack #1: Non-Dairy Plant-Based Ice Cream

As part of my new year’s resolution to focus more on plant-based eating, I promised you I would share all kinds of tips and ideas throughout the year. Today is the first of these posts, which I will call “Plant-Based Eating Hacks.” A bigger focus on plant-based eating doesn’t mean you have to go vegan, but those of us who aren’t vegan or vegetarian are often unfamiliar with the great options out there for plant-based eating. Let’s explore those options together! Today we’re going to start with a classic dessert we all know and love: ice cream. Yep, we’re talking about non-dairy, plant-based ice cream with nary a drop of cream in sight!

scoops of salt & straw vegan ice creams

Three years ago I had the chance to travel to Vermont to visit the Ben & Jerry’s headquarters. It was ridiculously cold, I had a 5-hour flight delay in Chicago and I discovered on this trip that I have sacroiliac dysfunction (which basically just means excruciating pain). Despite all the cards stacked against me and the fact that I hobbled about like a 150-year-old woman addicted to ibuprofen, it was hands down one of the most fun trips I’ve ever been on. We toured the factory (including the production floor!), ate ice cream straight from the production line, and even got to create our own new ice cream flavors in the test kitchens. The experience was unforgettable. Ben & Jerry’s hosted this media trip as part of their non-dairy frozen dessert product launch. I was the only writer on the trip who was not vegan. At the time I was a full-fledged dairy consumer and knew very little about veganism, quite frankly. But I walked away from the trip with two things. First, really wonderful vegan friends who were open and ready to teach me in the least-judgy way imaginable. Second, a love for non-dairy, plant-based ice cream.

Why Non-Dairy, Plant-Based Ice Cream?

Here’s the thing: you totally do not need cream to make good ice cream. I know, it sounds like crazy talk. But since I cut dairy a year ago, I can attest to the fact that my non-dairy, plant-based ice cream options have left me completely happy and not missing “real” ice cream at all. And, as we learned in my plant-based eating kick-off post, cows are a huge drain on the environment. Eating red meat and dairy makes for a reeeeeealllllllyyyyyy big carbon footprint. If you can sub out that dairy with something equally delicious, why wouldn’t you?

I’m going to share two great non-dairy, plant-based ice cream options that I love with you today. And then I’m going to ask you all to share your own favorites in the comments! Let’s make this the best collection of plant-based ice cream recommendations around!

Ben & Jerry’s Non-Dairy Frozen Desserts

As I mentioned, about three years ago Ben & Jerry’s launched their non-dairy frozen desserts line. At the time I believe there were 4 flavors, but today the line has expanded to 11 flavors (and I’m sure it will keep growing). All of Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy frozen desserts are made with an almond milk base (which is delicious, btw) and are certified vegan.

Display of Ben & Jerry's Pints at the Factory in Burlington, VT

And since I have yet to write about that trip from many moons ago, I have to share some pictures with you.

Tour of the Ben & Jerry's factory in Burlington, VTPictured: Top – Shots of the Ben & Jerry’s factory floor in Burlington, VT; Middle – Ice cream straight off the line; Bottom – Product testing for quality control

The Ben & Jerry's Test Kitchen - creating new non-dairy frozen dessert flavorsPictured: The Ben & Jerry’s test kitchen where they develop new flavor – we had the chance to create our own non-dairy frozen dessert flavors. My partner Becky from Glue & Glitter (bottom left) and I decided our ice cream should be called “Beck & Janey’s.” Aren’t we clever?

Salt & Straw Vegan Ice Creams

Salt & Straw is a Portland, Oregon-based ice cream shop that that serves unique and quirky ice creams that taste amazing. They have started to expand to other states and the kids and I recently visited their Anaheim location. Salt & Straw has made a commitment to make 20% of their product line plant-based by the first of of this year. From what I recall on my last visit, their non-dairy ice creams are all made with a coconut milk base.

Sign announcing Salt & Straw's new focus on vegan ice creams

My 7-year-old meat eater son Owen is very resistant to my plant-based food changes, so when he happened to pick one of the vegan flavors at Salt & Straw, I just kept my mouth shut. I only let him know his ice cream was vegan after he was done eating. He looked shocked and then just laughed. If you can fool Owen, you can fool anyone.

I know not everyone has access to Salt & Straw, but when you visit your favorite ice cream shops, keep an eye out for non-dairy options! Last summer the kids and I visited Honeycomb Creamery in Cambridge, MA. They had a few vegan options, including an ice cream made with a cashew milk base, which was divine. I’m telling you, now is the time be alive if you’re wanting to eat more plant-based foods. The trend will only continue and these ice cream companies are proving that plant-based ice cream can be done in a truly delicious way.

Scoops of Ice Cream from Salt & Straw in Anaheim, CA

Tell Us Your Favorite Non-Dairy, Plant-Based Ice Cream Brands!

Now that I’ve shared a couple favorites, it’s time for you to fess up! Tell us your most favorite non-dairy, plant-based ice cream brands and flavors in the comments below!

Vegan Bloggers I Met at Ben & Jerry’s. These blogs are fantastic resources for plant-based eating!  


1 Comment »

  1. 1
    Erika B

    Hi Jane! Happy to hear that you’ve found yummy treats that work for you. Two of my favorites are NadaMoo https://nadamoo.com (Birthday Cake, Snickerdoodle, Rocky Road) and Mint Almond Dream Bites http://www.dreamplantbased.com/product/almond-dream-peppermint-dessert-bites/. I get both at Sprouts. So true that you can have wonderful dairy free ice cream.

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