Yes, you heard that right: ice cream in December—and vegan ice cream, at that!
Though you may be familiar with National Ice Cream Day, which is celebrated annually on the third Sunday in July (thanks to Ronald Reagan, who inaugurated this holiday in 1984), did you know that December 13 is simply . . . Ice Cream Day? Its origins are murky, even per the internet's standards, but we at the Free Library are happy to observe any dessert-based event.
Since going vegan three years ago, I've discovered that of the many nostalgic sweet treats I associate with childhood, ice cream is one of the easiest to create without animal products. The rich taste and texture of cow’s milk is paralleled or even exceeded by non-dairy milks such as those made from coconuts, almonds, and cashews, and because of the natural fat found in all three, eggs are no longer needed, either. (Some non-dairy ice creams add a stabilizer to take on the binding work that eggs traditionally perform, but depending on the recipe, it's not always necessary.)
It's not just home chefs who have picked up on the remarkable simplicity of making ice cream without cow or chicken products—there is a veritable abundance of vegan ice creams out there in the world, ready and waiting to be enjoyed. National chains like Ben & Jerry's and grocery-store brands like Breyers make great dairy-free ice creams for everyone, whether you're vegan, lactose intolerant, a fan of the taste of non-dairy milks, or just plain curious. Even the Franklin Fountain, that old-school Philadelphia favorite, usually has at least one non-dairy offering on hand.
On this Ice Cream Day, why not try out non-dairy ice cream and see what you think? For those of you who are home chefs, the Free Library's got you covered. Check out the ebook edition of The Vegan Scoop: 150 Recipes for Dairy-Free Ice Cream That Tastes Better Than the "Real" Thing, or a print copy of Vegan à la mode: More Than 100 Frozen Treats for Every Day of the Year. The more ambitious among you may be interested in Vegan Ice Cream Sandwiches: Cool Recipes for Delicious Dairy-Free Ice Creams and Cookies—two kitchen projects in one! (I'm definitely not one of these ambitious folks . . . sign me up instead for the So Delicious–brand mini ice cream sandwiches made with coconut milk that a coworker recently brought to the office.)
Have a favorite non-dairy ice cream flavor, recipe, or tip? Let us know in the comments below—and happy Ice Cream Day!