Do you remember when vegan dessert consisted of a plate of chopped fruit delivered by a confused person about what a vegan was? Vegans didn’t have much to choose from on the menu, and they had almost no options at the grocery store besides whole grains, fruits, and vegetables. Times were tough.
Veganism is on the rise, and people looking to reduce their consumption of dairy and meat are always casually shopping for vegan foods. They may not want to give up their favorite things completely, but they understand the health benefits, ethical position, and environmental impact of becoming less dependent on them.
Now, the grocery store is a paradise for vegans. A short stroll through the freezer section will show you dozens of brands of dairy-free frozen desserts, with each brand having numerous flavors.
It used to be too hard to find a vegan ice cream alternative. Now it’s too hard to choose one.
The new problem is a far better problem to have — you have an excuse to taste dozens of options in the name of finding a favorite.
1. Snow Monkey
Snow Monkey is doing something that most vegan ice cream companies have never tried. They aren’t using some kind of milk alternative to create their frozen desserts — they’re using banana puree, apple puree, hemp protein, and sunflower butter to create the base for their dessert. This improves the protein content and keeps the texture fuller, thicker, and a little bit healthier. All that fruit adds some fiber to their ice cream, too.
Because Snow Monkey is made almost entirely out of fruit, it’s one of the healthiest vegan options available. A quick look at the ingredients list and nutrition facts shows something that would be perfectly reasonable to eat for breakfast. Perhaps that’s why the company dubs it an “anytime dessert.” Every ingredient in every flavor of Snow Monkey is guilt-free.
The brand also has a decent amount of flavors relative to other plant-based options, and their unique offerings beat many other vegan ice creams. They have an açai berry dessert, a matcha green tea variety, a maple cinnamon flavor, and even a passion fruit dessert.
Packing in tons of protein, antioxidants, and fiber while still being nut-free, dairy-free, gluten-free, and paleo-friendly, Snow Monkey has earned its #1 spot on our list.
2. So Delicious Dairy Free
So Delicious Dairy Free never picked aside. They decided to cater to everyone. Their ice cream alternatives come in cashew milk, coconut milk, soy milk, and oat milk pints. They also offer bars and other frozen treats made of almond milk.
So Delicious Dairy Free deserves credit for its versatility. They did a good job at addressing every dairy-free need. If you can’t have nut milk, you always have an alternative. If you’re avoiding soy, you still have choices. If you don’t like coconut milk, grab the oat milk pint. They’ve positioned themselves as a one-stop vegan shop for all things ice cream.
Most of So Delicious Dairy Free’s flavors are pretty textbook. You’ll see the standard, predictable fare in their cashew milk and coconut milk line. Things get interesting with their oat milk ice creams, though — there, you’ll see Peanut Butter & Raspberry and Caramel Apple Crumble, two of the unique flavors the brand has to offer.
3. Halo Top Non-Dairy
Halo Top became the go-to brand for dieters who wanted some ice cream. The brand managed to do something unique by offering an entire pint of ice cream for the calories of a single serving of their competitors. Not many brands can promise you a delicious pint of ice cream all to yourself for only 280 calories. They made it possible to eat an entire pint in a single sitting without any guilt.
Halo Top’s first venture into non-dairy ice cream wasn’t so successful. People didn’t like their original non-dairy formula, and they wished the dessert contained more protein. Instead of discontinuing the line, Halo Top went back to the drawing board and returned with a new and improved version of their coconut cream frozen desserts. Definite kudos for the consumer-awareness.
If you’re a vegan on a diet, Halo Top is speaking directly to you. Dig into a whole pint of vegan dairy-free birthday cake ice cream for a mere 280 calories.
While the name of the brand is OATLY!, we’re not sure why they’re yelling. For simplicity’s sake, let’s call them Oatly. Oatly is an exclusive oat brand. They make oat-milk based alternatives to dairy products like ice cream, milk, and yogurt.
Their ice cream selection is somewhat slim, featuring mostly the basics. Their two standout flavors are coffee, and shockingly, oat. Yes, Oatly has an oat-flavored oat milk ice cream. It’s a little on the nose, but fans of oatmeal cookies might be surprised at how much they like the oaty flavor of this variety.
Oatly is highly agreeable to people with allergies. The ingredients list is concise, and the calorie counts are reasonable, but each pint lacks vitamins and nutrients. The protein content is negligible, and you’ll only find small amounts of essential nutrients. If health is a concern, you might discover Oatly a bit hollow, but we know we have some die-hard oat fans reading this, so this is for you!
5. Nada Moo
Nada Moo is the unofficial king of the coconut milk domain. Their coconut milk-based ice creams are mostly organic and come in a very impressive array of flavors. You’ll see Caramel Cold Brew & Cookies, Marshmallow Dust, Peach Cobbler, and Maple Pecan among their most popular offerings. They did a great job offering more than the vanilla, chocolate, and strawberry that most brands default to.
If coconut milk is your thing, you’re going to love Nada Moo. They may not be the healthiest out of all your vegan ice cream options, but they’re certainly among the most delicious. While their calorie content and added sugars aren’t terrible, they’re very light in the protein department.
So Who’s the Winner?
Let’s establish this right now: anyone enjoying a pint of vegan ice cream is undoubtedly a winner. Any company willing to try its hand at creating a delicious dessert for vegans deserves recognition for doing so. It feels good to see brands on store shelves that value animals’ ethical treatment and the environment as much as devoted vegans do.
That having been said, there’s still a dessert that pushes slightly past the others. If you’re looking for the right balance of taste and nutrition, Snow Monkey has everyone else beat. They solved a need that most people didn’t even know they had — they’ve made the first frozen dessert that it’s impossible to feel guilty for eating.
There’s nothing else like Snow Monkey on the market. It’s an ice cream alternative that’s technically a proper meal. Two servings are low in calories and provide about 12 grams of protein. You can toss in some chopped fruit or healthy granola and make yourself a sundae for breakfast — it would technically be a frozen fruit salad.
Again, we want to give a special shoutout to Halo Top for improving their product to please their customers, too — that’s something that a customer-centric company does when they genuinely care about the people they’re serving. So Delicious Dairy Free deserves recognition for their ambition, Nada Moo gets props for their creative flavors, and Oatly gets props for their dev-oat-ion. Yeah, we went there.