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The size of the vegan population in the UK quadrupled between 2014 and 2018. Plus, the number of those who are choosing to reduce the amount of dairy and meat that they consume is also on the rise. That has made vegan options for favourite foods, such as ice cream, increasingly popular. Not only that but many non-vegans are also finding new tastes and flavours that they are able to enjoy in non-dairy alternatives.

Why do people opt for vegan ice cream?

There could be any number of reasons for this including:

  • A healthier option. Vegan soft serve is part of the innovation that the ice cream industry has been driven towards in trying to keep up with consumer tastes for ‘healthier’ products. Although there is plenty of evidence to suggest that vegan ice cream has a range of health benefits, it does often contain sugar so is not completely without diet ‘sins.’ However, depending on the ingredients it’s often a healthier choice in terms of fat and alternatives to dairy may have other health benefits too e.g. almond milk has fewer calories than cow’s milk but is high in calcium.
  • An ethical choice. For many people today, living without animal products is a positive lifestyle choice, whether that’s in order to benefit the environment or to live cruelty free. The range of different vegan products makes this much easier to accommodate and many customers now expect a non-dairy option from businesses like an ice cream store.
  • Vegan ice cream tastes better today. During the early years of vegan ice cream the only real option was something like a sorbet, which lacked the rich creaminess of ice cream. However, many brands have now developed alternatives that use plant milks, such as oat, almond and coconut, and which mimic the depth of taste and flavour that traditional soft serve is able to offer the palette. As a result, choosing vegan ice cream no longer has to be a compromise when it comes to flavour and enjoyment – vegan ice cream that is really skilfully made can taste the same as, or even better than, traditional soft serve ice cream.

Are there any obstacles to soft serve vegan ice cream?

Cost can be an issue – currently, plant milks are a much more expensive ingredient than regular dairy. This is especially so when it comes to nut based milks – for example, almond milk costs around four times as much per litre as cows milk. However, many vegan consumers are happy to pay a little more for a dairy free ice cream alternative. It’s also likely that, as these non-diary milks become more widely available for products like ice cream, the cost will come down.

If you want to sell soft serve vegan ice cream in your business there are plenty of options. It’s often a good idea to start by asking your audience if this is what they want – if there is a market for it from those who already buy from you then that’s a great reason to introduce it as a new product.