If you follow the same blogs and Facebook feeds that I do, you’ve no doubt been bombarded with news of Ben and Jerry’s vegan flavors.
Celebrating this entrée into the realm of non-dairy, Ben and Jerry’s invited me and 9 other bloggers to Burlington, Vermont, where they are headquartered.
I flew there last week to sample their new vegan flavors and tour one of their factories. Today I’m going to tell you all about it.
Here’s a video re-cap of Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream + factory tour:
The ice cream
It took 18 months & over 50 versions to develop these frozen desserts. All of the ingredients are certified non-GMO, fair trade, and vegan. Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice creams are part of their goal to reduce their carbon emissions by 80% by the year 2050.
As their non-dairy sales increase, they hope to offer more vegan options. (Update: Since this post, Ben & Jerry’s has added more non-dairy flavors. More details below!)
The ice creams have an almond base, which is ideal for a neutral flavor that lets the inclusions shine. In addition to almond milk, the base also includes coconut oil and pea protein to give the ice creams a full-bodied quality and mouth-feel.
After talking to fans, they got the message that people wanted non-dairy ice creams that replicated old familiar favorites along with new flavors that would be exclusive for them.
Here are Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream flavors:
- PB & Cookies – My fave. This vanilla ice cream is packed with chocolate sandwich cookies and generous swirls of peanut butter. This is the kind of ice cream that makes you want to just keep digging for more chunks of deliciousness.
- Coffee Caramel Fudge – This is my second favorite. The notes of coffee don’t overwhelm, and the caramel swirl has a fabulous pull and gooeyness that is the highlight of this ice cream.
- Chunky Monkey – This classic flavor is made with banana non-dairy ice cream with chocolate fudge and walnuts. I don’t think I ever had Chunky Monkey in my non-vegan days, and banana isn’t a big draw for me dessert-wise. This ice cream wasn’t bad, but it didn’t feel like as much of an indulgence as the first two flavors.
- Chocolate Fudge Brownie – This was my least favorite of the line-up. The brownies in this ice cream, made by New York company, Greyston Bakery, are easily the best part. Lots of dense chocolaty brownie bites highlight how the flavor of the ice cream is lacking.
New Ben and Jerry’s vegan flavors from 2017:
- Caramel Almond Brittle
- Cherry Garcia
- Coconut 7-Layer Bar
Where can you find them?
The ice creams are out now! You can find them at Target, in the health market of Hy-Vee, and at most natural grocery stores. Keep an eye on these non-dairy ice creams wherever Ben and Jerry’s is sold.
The PB & Cookie is available by the scoop in scoop shops, and the other non-dairy flavors are available there by the pint.
Making our own non-dairy ice cream
Carlo, Paul, me, and Madeline
While we were there, we got to see on a micro scale how flavor development works by creating flavors of our own just for fun with the help of Ben & Jerry’s experts, Kirsten & Paul. We broke into small groups to create 8-pint batches of ice cream using our choice of add-ins.
After we created our unique ice creams, we pitched them to Ben and Jerry’s staff, got their feedback, and even designed a poster for our new flavors.
Ben and Jerry’s factory tour
(After years of knowing each other online, Becky & I finally got to meet in person!)
We also had a chance to tour one of their factories to see how their ice cream is made on a large scale. It was interesting to see how the move is made from concept to reality.
After watching from afar, we suited up in hairnets, jackets, and work boots to visit the manufacturing floor.
Tasting our way through Vermont
While we were in Vermont, Ben and Jerry’s treated us well – putting us up at the modern Hotel Vermont, where they arranged vegan room service (a very rare thing).
I couldn’t believe my good luck when I was able to order a soy latte brought to my room, along with a breakfast burrito one morning and a hempseed patty with fingerling potatoes the next day.
One night, we gathered in a conference room for a multi-course all-vegan meal prepared by the hotel chef. The smoked sweet potato soup and fried cauliflower were particularly wow-worthy.
Jenné from Sweet Potato Soul
I asked if these vegan options would be available to other guests, and they said they always have at least one vegan option listed on their restaurant menu. Plus, the chef is happy to whip something up upon request.
I recommend calling ahead and letting them know that you’re interested in vegan options.
We ventured to local vegan restaurant, Pingala Café & Eatery, one evening for a catered dinner. We were able to try a variety of things to many yums all around.
Even people in my life who aren’t vegan and never venture into natural food stores have taken a real, serious interest in these new non-dairy ice creams.
While there are plenty of tasty vegan treats already on the market, I’m always happy to see non-vegans getting excited about plant-based options. Hopefully they will displace the animal foods in their diets, and show that being vegan is delicious and entirely doable.
Plus, these desserts meet people where they are, as they can be found in chain stores right alongside their dairy counterparts in addition to specialty markets. People won’t have to wander off into the faraway health market to find a more compassionate alternative.
I hope that Ben and Jerry’s vegan ice cream flavors sell well, and that more companies will see that vegan options are the way of the future.