It’s summer. What do most of us love come summer? Ice cream. However, for those of us who are dairy/lactose intolerant, vegetarian but avoid dairy, or vegan, ice cream usually isn’t an option. Or is it? It can be, but you have to be careful about your choices.
“Vegan” or “Non-dairy” ice cream1 comes in a few brands – there’s NadaMoo, So Delicious, Ben & Jerry’s, and now Haagen-Dazs has some non-dairy flavors. I’m sure there are other brands out there if you hit up Google, but those are the four I know are available in my area because I’ve tried all of them except NadaMoo2.
So with all those choices, why do you have to be careful about what choice you make? It should just be a matter of which brand you prefer, right? Wrong. NadaMoo, So Delicious, and Ben & Jerry’s all bear the vegan symbol on their packaging while Haagen-Dazs does not. I believe that this may be due to one of the ingredients found in the pint of Haagen-Dazs Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert I purchased the other day here when I finally found it in our Target store.
The flavor I’d purchased was Chocolate Salted Fudge Truffle and it was very good. But a quick scan of the label showed no sign of the vegan symbol. I started to wonder why, as so many of the people I follow on Twitter have been rejoicing over Haagen-Dazs giving them a vegan option for ice cream. Then I read the ingredients list. One3 of the ingredients listed was cane sugar or a cane sugar product. As noted in a previous post, cane sugar is often processed using an animal product called bone char to whiten the sugar. Unless the source of cane sugar/cane sugar products4 is one that doesn’t use bone char in their processing of the sugar, then Haagen-Dazs Non-Dairy Frozen Dessert flavors that contain cane sugar/cane sugar products are not vegan.
I repeat – because of the cane sugar/cane sugar products, it is possible that Haagen-Dazs non-dairy flavors are not actually vegan.
Now I’m not saying that they aren’t vegan for certain. They could be vegan. However, there are two facts that need to be addressed. First is the origin of their cane sugar/cane sugar products. Not all of the four flavors list cane sugar/cane sugar products on their labels, some of them simply say “sugar” on the label. If the origin of these sugars is a company that doesn’t process the sugar using bone char, great! Then we’re golden on that front and we can safely say that it probably is actually vegan.
The other fact is that Haagen-Dazs does not make any mention of their non-dairy frozen dessert being vegan, period. The symbol is not there and they do not claim on their website that it is vegan/suitable for vegans. I’ve heard that it can cost a fair bit of money for companies to have their products certified as vegan, so that could be the reason it isn’t certified. But with a company as well known as Haagen-Dazs, you would think they’d spend the money. Of course, it also could be that they’re just waiting for their vegan certification to be completed before they mention the dessert being vegan. I hope this is the case, that at the moment it would be considered “accidentally” vegan while they await certification. Otherwise, I fear some of my vegan friends may have been happily consuming this product without realizing that it isn’t actually vegan5.
Just because a product is non-dairy doesn’t automatically make it vegan. There can be other ingredients that are animal based, making the product unsuitable for vegans. Always check your ingredient labels and if in doubt about a particular product, write/call the company and ask before you make the purchase. Most companies won’t claim their products are vegan unless they can be certain they are6.
I hope you find the above information helpful. Obviously, your choice is just that – your choice. I just wanted to raise awareness that non-dairy does not necessarily mean vegan.
- aka non-dairy frozen dessert ↩
- Hy-Vee charges a ridiculous amount for it, so I don’t buy it. ↩
- Or more, I don’t have the container handy, the three of us in the house demolished it already. LOL ↩
- In this case, powdered cane sugar. ↩
- I’ve met a few vegans who don’t think to ask before consuming items that they think are vegan and then find out later they weren’t. ↩
- Although you never know, there are some reps who might tell you something is vegan just to make sure you buy it. ↩