Updated on March 1, 2016
When I look back at my time in high school, there are clear, sugary memories of me walking home from school and occasionally stopping by a local liquor store to pick up a pint of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream to treat myself to. Picking huge chunks of chocolate or nuts or spoonfuls of swirls was the best part about them, and at times I would leave half a pint of the base melted in the carton (not my prouder moments).
Fast forward to now: Ben & Jerry’s has released their first ever vegan-certified line of flavors and the internet is going crazy over them. Their PR team reached out to me to cohost the first national tasting event here in LA and how could I refuse? I was so excited to be able to try the new flavors, and share them with fellow bloggers and ice cream lovers.
Admittedly, I got to try the 4 flavors out before the tasting party, and if you’re not yet familiar they are: PB & Cookies, Chunky Monkey, Coffee Caramel Fudge, and Chocolate Fudge Brownie. No, they didn’t go the plain and easy route with these flavors, y’all; they made these as only Ben & Jerry’s does, with chunks and swirls of sugary, delicious goodness.
If I was to pick a favorite it would be PB & Cookies; a cookies and cream base with HUGE chunks of chocolate cookie sandwiches and thick swirls of salty peanut butter. Straight up DREAMY. If you’ve ever had a tagalong/peanut butter patty Girl Scout cookie, this tastes like that and it is ambrosial.
Now, back to this tasting party! We hosted it at Mohawk Bend, which is always a great venue, and had Kirstin Schimoler, Ben & Jerry’s own flavor guru there to answer any questions that we had about the frozen non-dairy desserts (can’t call it ice cream because there is no dairy cream in it, damn Dairy lobbyists!!), and tell us all about what into creating this vegan line.
Honestly, it is CRAZY how much time and energy B&J put into these four flavors in terms of quality of ingredients, research, sourcing of ingredients and getting the right textures and flavors. I would even go as far as to say that they have outdone some existing vegan brands of ice cream in how thorough they were.
All ingredients are certified vegan through Vegan Action, non-GMO certified, the cocoa, sugar, bananas, coffee and vanilla are all Fairtrade certified (I love this!), the one flavor that contains palm oil is sustainably sourced and they are hoping to find a good substitute in the very near future (you wouldn’t believe the hoops they have to jump through for this). They got their non-vegan brownie company, Greyston Bakery in NY- to make quality vegan brownies for their Chocolate Fudge Brownie flavor. Overall, it took them 3 years to develop this line, and they found an almond milk base to be the best canvas for their flavors.
I will say this ice cream has the best texture out of any non-dairy ice cream that I’ve ever had. Admittedly, I still have my favorite flavors of other brands, but these ones have the perfect balance of fat, sugar, and air. Ingredients-wise these are not healthy, straight up. But, that is not what I am looking for in a pint of ice cream, otherwise I would make my own frozen banana concoction at home. What IS exciting about this, to me, is that there is now a hugely available vegan ice cream that will be all over the US and will give vegans and lactose-intolerant people something to treat themselves to and to change non-vegans minds about how tasty cruelty-free life can be.
Now, is this brand owned by Unilever? Yes. Does that suck? Yes, to an extent. But, the people from Ben & Jerry’s have told me that since their launch of these flavors, they’ve had HUGE companies within (and outside of) Unilever come to them asking for information on how to make quality vegan products. I am of the feeling that having more vegan options, no matter what they are, is showing growth in this niche market and that the demand is high for these products. I do want to see more of them out there and accessible, especially in areas where vegan is a dirty word (looking at you middle of nowhere Midwest, Texas, etc.).
Lastly, you can find these flavors coming to a store or scoop shop near you within the next couple of weeks, if you don’t have them available already! Even LA wasn’t supposed to see them for a while and they have been found in local Targets, Vons, and scoop shops. I highly recommend that you check them out!
I worked as a cohost to the Los Angeles Tasting Party alongside Ben & Jerry’s and was compensated for both my time and this post. All opinions/words are honest and my own.