In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “How is vegan ice cream made?” and will discuss different ingredients of vegan ice cream.
How is vegan ice cream made?
Vegan ice creams are made by using coconut milk, almond milk, or soy milk, among other ingredients. Those are all plant-based substances; no animal products are included in any of them. Nevertheless, because it includes egg, dairy-free ice cream that is prepared with coconut milk is not vegan since it contains dairy.
Is vegan ice cream healthier?
According to PCRM (Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine) head of nutrition education Susan Levin, “absolutely.” Unlike plant-based foods, dairy products include components that are intrinsically unhealthy. Saturated fat and total fat should be limited in diets. Of course, adding sugar to your diet doesn’t add any value to it.”
However, the use of non-dairy ingredients to substitute cow’s milk, such as fruits, legumes, tubers, and cereals, has been regarded and widely utilized as alternative materials for ice cream production. Besides, the uses of these ingredients could give some additional healthy values due to the nutrition and bioactive compounds (1). In addition, Substitution of refined sugar with coconut sugar which is made from coconut inflorescence sap may be a healthy alternative in ice cream as it has low glycemic index, supplies calories and nutrients (2).
Is vegan ice cream out of the question? Not. “Look for the ones that have the least amount of fat and sugar.” However, Levin stated, “In summary, it’s better than dairy, but not a healthy food.”
In addition, the kind of ice cream you choose matters. NadaMoo!, which has a low sugar level and a low overrun (ice cream industry lingo for how much air is put into the mix) is a lighter option, as is Ben & Jerry’s vegan ice cream (a pint of its Dutch Chocolate contains only 8 grams of sugar). It’s also becoming more common for companies like So Delicious and Halo Top to provide low-calorie choices.
It has been reported that dairy milk sales have decreased globally by 7% in 2015 due to the negative health perception of dairy-based product consumption. Plant-based food diets however have become more inclusive within personalized nutrition plans for more than 70% of consumers. Several factors such as lactose intolerance, gastrointestinal discomfort, and allergies have become the principal reasons for people avoiding dairy-based products (6).
Ingredients of vegan ice cream
Almonds have a high content of fatty acids, lipids, amino acids, proteins, carbohydrates (including dietary fiber), vitamins, and minerals which contribute to improving artery health, reducing high blood pressure, and have positive effects in improving diabetes and metabolic syndrome. In recent years, almond milk beverages promoted as a healthy alternative to cow’s milk have potential prebiotic properties due to the presence of bioactive compounds such as vitamins, especially vitamin E which cannot be synthesized by the body, flavonoids, and polyphenols (3).
Companies aren’t surprised at all that they’ve partnered with almond milk as the most popular dairy-free beverage option. If you’re looking for the same taste and texture as traditional Ben & Jerry’s, almonds are your best bet for making dairy-free ice cream. So Delicious, Swedish Glace, and Almond Dream all provide vegan almond milk ice cream.
Archer Farms, Target’s private label brand, also produces almond milk ice cream. Non-dairy pints and bars made by Enlightened are made with almond milk. Breyers, a well-known dairy company, also uses almond milk as a foundation for their tastes.
Soy milk has been used as milk substitutes due to their functionalities, such as water-holding capacity, water-binding, emulsifying ability, and stability. Soy milk contains a high total solid that influences the increase in viscosity and melting rate (1).
There was more to soy-based ice cream than simply the ’80s fad. Tofutti and So Delicious’ (neé Soy Delicious) dairy-free soy snacks are still in business today. Additionally, there are choices like Soy Dream, Swedish Glace, vegan Cornetto, and several of Trader Joe’s vegan ice creams that are also available.
Another popular vegan ice cream base is coconut. Coconut milk can be the best substitute for dairy milk. Both coconut milk and dairy milk are technically oil in water emulsion where fat is naturally stabilized with proteins in it. Majority of the fatty acids present in both are saturated in nature and need to simulate the desirable attributes of dairy milk, especially fat globules, as they contribute to the desirable creamy appearance, texture, and mouth feel (2).
Coconut milk ice cream from Texas-based NadaMoo! has been on the market since 2004. If you’re looking for an organic alternative, check out Coconut Bliss, So Delicious, and Swedish Glace. Halo Top, a popular low-calorie ice cream company, also uses coconut milk to manufacture its vegan ice cream.
Cashew has also been used as a milk substitute in the production of non-dairy cheese and ice creams. However, it contains various bioactive components known as anti-nutritional factors that interfere with the absorption of nutrients. For example, phytates (phytic acid) and saponins form insoluble complexes with cations (e.g. Ca2+, Mg2+, Fe2+and Zn2+) and decrease their bioavailability. Phytic acid present in oat, soy and cashew milk substitutes binds to essential minerals and trace elements to create insoluble complexes that consequently inhibit their absorption (4).
So Delicious is the only prominent vegan ice cream company that uses cashews as its basis. Gourmet company Van Leeuwen, which operates scoop shops in New York and Los Angeles as well as in select locations around the United States, uses a combination of cashews, coconut cream, and cocoa butter to manufacture its dairy-free foundation.
Oat milk is a very popular non-dairy milk and has been used to produce vegan ice creams and vegan probiotic yogurts. Oats are a good source of dietary fibers and carbohydrates. However, saponins present in oats may interfere with protein absorption through the formation of insoluble saponin-protein complexes which are resistant to digestion (4).
Oat-based ice cream is finding its way into supermarket shelves after taking the dairy-free milk world by storm. In Europe, Oatly has been selling vegan ice cream for some years and is now gearing up to debut in the United States. Oat milk pioneer “Oat milk” ice cream was introduced by So Delicious earlier this year in three flavors. “Oats Cream,” a collaboration between a century-old ice cream business and a vegan dairy processor, was released this year.
Usage of pea protein isolate (more than 80% of protein content) is most affordable and sustainable in developing dairy alternatives as they meet functional and nutritional properties with the least allergens. Besides, the functional properties like foaming, emulsifying, oil-holding capacity, water holding capacity, solubility, and food texturing are the most promising features to apply pea protein isolates in the manufactur- ing of plant-based dairy alternatives (5).
Even ice cream is getting in on the fun with pea protein – a vegan meat substitute that’s creating a name for itself. Both Ben & Jerry’s and Halo Top’s vegan ice creams include the protein derived from legumes. Pea protein and coconut oil are used to manufacture Magnum’s new vegan ice cream bars. McConnell’s, a 70-year-old dairy brand, likewise uses pea protein to achieve its creamy consistency.
Avocado ice cream was previously a staple of dairy-free desserts that could be produced at home or a neighborhood shop. Cado, a kind of vegan ice cream based on avocados, debuted at Whole Foods Market in the summer of 2013. Compared to other products, it has less sugar and more “healthy” fat owing to avocados, according to the company’s claims. Avocado has high fat content which is a good source for substituting the milk fat in frozen dairy desserts. It has been reported that people who consumed avocado regularly tended to have a sufficient nutrient supply of dietary fiber, vitamin K, vitamin E, potassium, magnesium, as well as vitamin B complex (6).
More vegan ice cream recipes are out there. SorBabes is a dairy-free sorbet company, but co-founders Nicole Cardone and Deborah Gorman also use nut butter including pistachio, peanuts, almond, and hazelnut to create rich, creamy sweets.
Häagen-Dazs uses sugar and corn syrup to replicate its dairy foundation in its non-dairy varieties. Portland-based coffee shop The Little Bean utilizes chickpea milk as its primary ingredient. Small tuber tigernuts, used by Toronto-based firm The Chufa Co in their horchata, are a crucial component. Rice Dream, a rice-based vegan ice cream made by the “Dream” family of brands, is also available in pints and ice cream sandwiches. Ice cream maker Snow Monkey follows in the footsteps of handmade “lovely cream” by using ripe bananas to get its creamy smoothness.
Other FAQs about Vegans that you may be interested in.
In this brief guide, we answered the query, “How is vegan ice cream made?” and discussed different ingredients of vegan ice cream.
- Romulo, Andreas, and Bayu Meindrawan. Effect of Dairy and Non-Dairy Ingredients on the Physical Characteristic of Ice Cream. IOP Conf Ser Earth Environ Sci, 2021, 794, 1.
- Beegum, P. P., et al. Effect of coconut milk, tender coconut and coconut sugar on the physico-chemical and sensory attributes in ice cream. J Food Sci Technol, 2021, 1-12.
- Leahu, Ana, Sorina Ropciuc, and Cristina Ghinea. Plant-Based Milks: Alternatives to the Manufacture and Characterization of Ice Cream. Appl Sci, 2022, 12, 1754.
- Rasika, Dissanayake MD, et al. Plant-based milk substitutes as emerging probiotic carriers. Curr Op Food Sci, 2021, 38, 8-20.
- Narala, Vikram Reddy, et al. Inulin as a fat replacer in pea protein vegan ice cream and its influence on textural properties and sensory attributes. Appl Food Res, 2022, 2, 100066.
- Surjawan, I., and E. Abdillah. The potential of avocado paste (Persea americana) as fat substitute in non-dairy ice cream. IOP Conference Series: Earth Environ Sci, 2018, 102.