When you think of ice cream, the first word to cross your mind is probably not “innovative”. The flavors we love most are typically variations on mixtures that have been around for a while.
On a different note, the processes of ice cream haven’t really changed very much since Jefferson was president (although the rose water and orange blossom flavors that were popular in his day have definitely been improved upon). Even most vegan ice cream varieties use the same processes as regular ice cream, they just sub in coconut milk, almond milk, soy milk, rice milk (you get the picture).
It’s About the Sugar
There is one frozen treat brand on the market that is using new processes to make a truly vegan dessert. Many non-dairy desserts are almost vegan, but almost every one is sweetened with sugar, and traditional sugar is bleached with bone char, meaning it is not a vegan ingredient. It is almost impossible to find a plant-based ice cream substitute that isn’t using sugar or sugar alcohols instead. The sugar alcohols are vegan, but they have a slew of other problems. Regular sugar just isn’t vegan (in addition to the other problems with it).
They are also full of allergens like nuts and soybeans, so even if they manage to use a truly vegan sweetener, they are a minefield for people with food sensitivities. Snow Monkey frozen treats avoid that trap.
Snow Monkey treats are made from a base of banana. This gives them natural sweetness, without the need to add sweeteners to most flavors.
When sweetener is added, it is either fruit juice or a little bit of maple syrup, nothing bleached and processed sugar. These ingredients add nutrients instead of adding straight sugar, so there are health benefits to every single element of the ice cream, which also manages to be free of gluten, soy, nuts, coconut, and pretty much every major allergen. The natural creaminess of bananas makes it feel like ice cream to your mouth without adding emulsifiers either.
Sugar Alcohols Are Not It
Many natural desserts try to stay low calorie by using sugar alcohols instead of sugar or artificial sweeteners. Sugar alcohols are natural, but they aren’t necessarily healthy. Without getting too deep into the chemistry, sugar alcohols trick your tongue into thinking they are sweet, but they can’t be metabolized, so they pass out of your body instead of being converted to carbohydrates and used for energy.
Unfortunately, the process that sugar alcohols use to trick our taste buds also works on the good bacteria in your gut. This means the bacteria eat the sugar alcohols instead of actually breaking down the more complex carbohydrates. Since the sugar alcohols can’t be converted, the bacteria in your gut then starve to death. If you have ever taken a large dose of antibiotics, you probably know of the nausea and gas that come next. That is a pretty ironic result if you were avoiding ice cream because of the cramps you get from milk.
Regardless of whether you are wanting plant-based ice cream for health or ethical reasons, it is important that you know about the odd hidden elements that might come up. Most people don’t think of sugar as not being vegan, and they might not realize other hidden ingredients that can impact their choices. This is why you should look for foods with as few ingredients as you can find. This allows you to understand what is in your food, and make better substitutions if needed.
There are some great plant-based ice cream choices out there, and it is possible to find completely vegan and allergy-friendly options for every part of every meal as long as you try!