Thursday, March 2, 2017

Vegan Ben & Jerry's comes to Canada!

By Giselle Wedemire

Big news, Canadian vegans: as of Feb. 27, pints of Ben & Jerry’s dairy-free ice cream have hit store shelves across the country. But before you throw on some decent pants and run to your nearest grocer, pump your brakes and drive slow, homie, because there’s a possibility that your neighbourhood store might not stock these niche items yet.

In Calgary, I’ve heard that only select Walmart locations are currently carrying the new dairy-free B&J flavours – and even then, the flavour selection might be limited. Surprisingly, my neighbourhood Shoppers Drug Mart had jumped on the dairy-free band wagon. However, that store only carried the P.B. & Cookies flavour, and it wasn’t included in the BOGO deal they were running on all other B&J pints, which induced major sad faces in me and Mr. Picky Bitch.

It’s also worth noting that these new dairy-free ice cream flavours – which retail for about $7.50 or more – are made with an almond milk base, with the possibility of cross contamination with soy and wheat products. If you’re allergic to any of these ingredients, back away slowly and find refuge in other, more allergen-free vegan ice cream options.

Ok, but how does it taste?

To answer the burning question that's on all of your minds, I have to say, "Meh." I’m not sure if it’s because of the huge hype or if my taste buds are broken, but the P.B. & Cookies flavour just didn’t work for me. The ice cream itself was both bland and overly flavoured with a chemically aftertaste, and the peanut butter and cookie flavours and nearly non-existent when eaten straight out of the freezer. 

And even though I found that this tasted a bit better if left to sit at room temperature for a few minutes before serving, it didn't make much of a difference. In fact, it just reinforced that this ice cream just straight up doesn't taste like food to me. (Which, to be honest, doesn't make me optimistic for trying out the other flavours in the dairy-free line. But if I manage to find the other two flavours, I'll definitely give them all a try.)

On the plus side, Mr. Picky Bitch loved it and had to stop himself from eating too much of it as a late-night snack. For me, though, I think that at that price point, I’d much rather opt for the silky smooth coconut milk-based options at Village Ice Cream. But maybe that just makes me an ice cream snob. Whatever!

I've since had a chance to try the other two vegan Ben & Jerry's flavours, and have changed my harsh stance on the vegan line of ice creams. While the P.B. & Cookies still tastes like chemical sludge to me and Mr. Picky Bitch, we've found that the Coffee Caramel Fudge is an unlikely yet impressive flavour combination; the coffee flavour stands out on its own, while the caramel itself helps deepen the flavours and bridge the gaps between the coffee and the fudge. Oh, and btw, the 'fudge' they speak of is actually just chunks of chocolate.

The true winner in the three-part cruelty-free line-up, however, is the Chocolate Fudge Brownie. With its soft and fudgy brownie bits and rich chocolate ice cream base, this is definitely the flavour you should reach for if you're in the mood for indulgence -- or if you simply want to get over a breakup. Whatever your circumstances may be, I imagine this will pair nicely with a good pair of sweatpants and some trashy TV shows.
Have you tried any of the new dairy-free Ben & Jerry’s flavours? What did you think of them?

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