I Tried Two Non-Dairy Ice Cream Brands

Depressed. Paranoid. Psycho. Lactose Intolerant. What do all of these have in common? They’re all the top responses for, “Is everyone a little…” on Google. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, “approximately 65 percent of the human population has a reduced ability to digest lactose after infancy.” Consuming anything with lactose, like dairy milk, can cause “abdominal pain, bloating, flatulence, nausea and diarrhea beginning 30 minutes to 2 hours later.” With the Economist naming 2019 as “the year of the vegan,” the amount of dairy-free options is growing daily. It’s time to make the switch and make a health-conscious decision. But which choice is the best? I tried two dairy-free vanilla ice creams to see which ice cream was worth the scream.

Jon Snyder, creator of the original Ciao Bella gelato and self-proclaimed ice cream aficionado, explains the top characteristics of ice cream are flavor, presentation, temperature, color, aroma and texture. Since I did purchase both desserts from the frozen section at Publix, I will forgo the presentation and temperature sections of the judgment process, as that is out of the manufacturers’ control. And although this is a frozen dessert and is distinctly labeled as frozen dessert and not ice cream due to dairy-related reasons, we’ll hold it to the same standards of comparison.

So Delicious Dairy Free Vanilla Bean Coconut Milk Frozen Dessert:

First up: So Delicious. Distributed from Eugene, Oregon, whose slogan is “A Great City for the Arts and Outdoors,” the town also turns out to churn out some great sweets. The frozen dessert is rich and thick like you’d expect any regular ice cream to be. If you were to taste this ice cream without the knowledge of it being made with coconut milk and not cow's milk, you’d be convinced it came straight from the cow’s udder. You’d think Ben and Jerry personally prepared the ice cream in collaboration with the nicest of cattle. But you would’ve been fooled. You would’ve made a complete fool of yourself in front of everyone at the ice cream social. They would never invite you back again. How could they, when you made such a mistake?

Don’t be fooled. This frozen dessert is made with coconut milk, although the flavor of coconut is very much hidden.

It’s tasty, it’s vanilla. A great base for toppings and a great palette cleanser. The color of it was simple: white with black flecks from the vanilla bean. The smell of the frozen dessert was very much of vanilla, almost like the classic scent of warm vanilla sugar by Bath and Body Works. The texture of the frozen dessert was smooth and creamy.

NadaMoo Organic Vanilla...Ahhh Dairy-Free Frozen Dessert

“Nada” means “nothing” in Spanish, and although no one knows the true translation of “moo” in cow language, we can guess the brand’s name wanted to illustrate how natural it is. This frozen dessert is organic and made with natural vanilla beans. While the naturalness of it all is exciting, after trying it, I found it lacked strong vanilla flavor. The notes of vanilla were weak compared to the taste of coconut. Don’t get me wrong; I love coconut ice cream, but that requires me to be in a different headspace than with vanilla ice cream.

It’s not terrible, but it’s not a classic vanilla ice cream taste. It’s also lighter in consistency, veering toward the sherbet lane rather than the rich, thick ice cream yellow brick road. It was also white with black speckles, and if you looked at both the NadaMoo and the So Delicious frozen desserts next to each other, you wouldn't be able to tell the difference. The aroma was more coconut-y than expected, although it would make for a great candle scent. The flavor was much more of a “coconut vanilla” vibe than just vanilla. Still tasty and still worth it, though.

People with tree nut allergies beware: Coconut milk is here to save you from your barren desert of desserts you’re able to eat without having to use your EpiPen. Put the EpiPen away, and pick up the spoon; it’s chow time.