On the surface of things, Ben & Jerrys’ (the Cadbury equivalent of ice cream, in that it’s probably the best tasting, mass-market, most commercially available thing in its class) decision to offer up dairy-free options for its products is an obvious one.
There are, after all, millions of people the world over who don’t consume dairy, either by choice or by biological design, given how there are many of us who are lactose intolerant. Strictly speaking, of course, and depending on who you ask, we’re all lactose intolerant to a greater or lesser extent.
That’s because the human body was never really built to consume bovine lactation, with that ability only evolving just under 10,000 years or so ago, which in evolutionary terms is a blink of an eye.
I readily admit I may be wildly missing the mark with that statement, but it serves to illustrate my point, which is all that matters, really.
Conventional wisdom would dictate that B&J’s non-dairy options won’t taste as good as the regular sort, that is to say, the kind made with the sort of thing that would cause some to launch into an hour-long lecture about how milk is murder (vegans) or launch into serious gastrointestinal distress (the lactose intolerant).
What makes ice cream good is the mouth-filling oomph of cow’s milk. And frankly, milk made from rice, oats, nuts or anything other than the lactic emissions of an animal doesn’t quite have the same kick to it.
There’s also a ridiculous campaign to have anything other than milk of animal origin have the term “milk” stripped from its name. Which leads to such ridiculousness as some menus calling their not-milk milk “m*lk” instead.
Their reasons for doing so are pretty obvious, since they not only have to denote what they’re serving isn’t actually milk, but a milk substitute from a non-animal source.
Anyway, I’m rooting for “mulk” as an alternative, which probably isn’t too far off how a New Zealander would pronounce the word for lacteal secretion. Oddly enough, people have been calling soy milk “soy milk” for ages, and only now they have a problem?
Oh well, but I digress.
I personally don’t have any problems with non-dairy milk, as such. Coconut milk is amazing in certain foods, and soy milk is incredibly tasty as well. As for not-milk more hipster leanings, I do also like oat or nut milk.
I mean, why not? It’s tastes perfectly fine, and if you have any problems with it, you’re probably one of those milkophobes who won’t drink it on principle, or one of those people who would refuse to eat something that’s vegan simply because it’s vegan.
And I’m not just proclaiming my allyship just because I don’t want death threats from vegans or the lactose intolerant. I mean, the things I’ve written about in The Snackdown, they’d have hanged me by the neck until I was really sorry several times over.
So, Ben & Jerry’s non-dairy options then. Apparently, there are a few out there, but for the purposes of this, I thought I’d visit an old B&J’s staple, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough, which should provide a fairly solid baseline upon which to judge.
The good news is, in a blind test, you probably can’t tell the non-dairy B&J’s from the ‘real’ kind. Which is good.
Well, you can sorta tell, but it’s so subtle that unless you’re looking for it, you won’t be able to find it. It’s not entirely unlike an Impossible Burger, which is about the best non-meat meat you can find.
It’s a little easier to discern the non-dairy B&J’s from the kind laden with a substance that would cause a lactose intolerant person’s stomach to fold in on itself in psychic sympathy in that it’s ever so slightly thinner.
It doesn’t have the unctuous quality dairy ice cream has, but then again, this doesn’t have dairy in it, which is psychological anathema to vegans and physiological anathema to lactose intolerant people.
Wait, or was that the other way around?
Non-dairy B&J’s sits a little lighter on the stomach as well, which is a valuable bonus, so now there’s always room for dessert.
Now, isn’t that nice.
Now, I also understand that this post is quite unlike my usual, in that I'm being unusually positive, wholesome and conciliatory.
With that, I shall endeavour in closing to be as controversial as possible by saying bacon that doesn't come from pork doesn't deserve to be called bacon. In the spirit of what I talked about earlier, I propose that non-pork bacon be named something else. like "b*con" or better yet, "borkon".
10-word review: An ice cream to make vegans and lactose intolerant rejoice.
Best paired with: A tall glass of non-dairy milk, or if you prefer, m*lk.