Nothing says summer like ice cream. In a perfect world you make your own vegan ice cream, as creamy and smooth as the version you had on retreat. In real life your ice cream desire pops up in the “heat of the moment”. When you want ice cream you don’t have hours to wait, you want it now before the opportunity to sit on the porch swing and savor it passes. You want to find a truly sensational summer treat. That means a vegan ice cream brand you can enjoy on the fly.

Welcome to week two of vegan foods on the blog! Yes, finding a tasty vegan ice cream brand is tough. Thankfully I am willing to take one for the team and do a little taste testing to find a sensational summer treat. Once again, this is not a sponsored post. I paid for each of these with my own money. I did solicit some recommendations on my personal Facebook page which I found extremely helpful.

I’ll always encourage you to make your own ice cream with some delicious coconut milk like Patty does at Timber Creek. I also know that the time, desire and skills aren’t always there. You need an easy button to enjoy when the rest of the family insists on Andy’s Frozen Custard and you would prefer not to break out into a rash.

If you’re a moderator, you can keep a pint in the freezer so it is handy. If you’re abstainer and can’t keep your ice cream in the house don’t worry. The brands I’m going to share are easy to find so you can send grab a pint on your way to your niece’s birthday party or the book club cookout.

I rarely do this but I am actually going to start with a DON’T. I generally try to keep my reviews positive but I feel I have to share something I really didn’t like. Halo Top has been receiving a lot of hype. Perhaps the regular version is better but the vegan version really tasted awful. Of course, I only tasted one flavor (vanilla maple) but that flavor was a big disappointment to both Bri and I as we sat down to watch basketball anticipating a really good treat.

What was wrong? First, the texture was very gritty. I chalk that up to the pea protein. Second, the flavor was just wrong. The maple and vanilla tasted so artificial that it was hard to classify exactly what it tasted like. I know the appeal is the lower calories, with only 250 calories for the whole pint of our particular selection. But I’m a quality over quality person. I would much rather have a small portion of something amazing to savor than a large volume of something that is just “meh”.

Now that we’ve got that bit of unpleasantness out of the way, let’s talk about the three vegan ice cream bands that should prove much more satisfying on a hot summer night.

My favorite of the three brands we tried is So Delicious. So Delicious has been making ice cream for years with natural dairy free ingredients. Enjoying a dish of their coconut milk chocolate frozen dessert was a great summer treat. There was no grit and a yummy chocolate taste. There is added sugar but it is less than the other brands I taste tested. My taste testing partner agreed that this was one we could buy again. (In fact, Bri recalled there was a time years ago when we did buy this brand to enjoy in the summer on the porch swing but I have no recollection of this.)

At 140 calories per half cup this a great Middle Ground choice. You probably shouldn’t eat the whole pint but it can easily fit in an average day’s eating plan. You’ll also be more satisfied with the quality of what’s in your dish. There is added sugar but less than you might find in other brands. Find this vegan ice cream brand at Mama Jean’s Natural Market or in the natural foods section of your favorite local grocery store.

If you’d prefer a more familiar brand, did you know that both Ben & Jerry’s and Haagen Dazs now both make vegan ice cream? I found them both at Target. But before we talk about how they taste, it’s time to make an important disclaimer. Neither of these brands (perhaps none of these vegan ice creams) should be considered “healthy”.

This isn’t to say ice cream is a “bad” food.  There is a time and a place for everything. In the case of ice cream, for most of us it should be a treat. It should be eaten mindfully and without guilt. when we choose it and open to the fact while delicious they aren’t giving us much nutritional value.

Vegan Haagen Dazs is a treat. There is nothing low calorie about it. It is as rich and decadent as it’s dairy filled counter part. I tried the Coconut Salted Caramel flavor which has 240 calories for ½ cup. While it has ingredients that I can pronounce those ingredients include corn solids and brown sugar. This would explain the very very sweet flavor. I don’t enjoy very sweet things but even Bri found it almost too sweet (trust me, that’s rare.) If you’re a coconut fan this will hit the spot but don’t say you weren’t warned about the super sweetness.

If you’re a Cherry Garcia fan you can get a vegan version. It’s going to satisfy your craving but out of all the vegan ice cream brands we tried this one had the longest and most questionable ingredient list. There was less sugar than the Haagen Dazs which was noticeable in the taste. It was less rich, although I did feel fuller after eating it. I liked the burst of the maraschino cherries and the creamy feel in the mouth. As far as calories goes it also comes in at 240 per 1/2 cup, putting it firmly in the treat category.

I hope these vegan ice cream brands help you enjoy the party along with your dairy eating friends. Just remember, it’s a treat not a habit. If you want a something cool and creamy to enjoy daily try one of these dairy free yogurt brands with frozen bananas and berries. Stay tuned for another non-dairy delight next week…how to make the ultimate vegan grilled cheese sandwich!

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