This Summer’s Hottest Indulgence: Lactose-Free Ice Cream
It feels like there are new kinds of ice cream popping up every day – from dairy-free, to animal-free, to fat-free, to sugar-free, to protein-rich, and hundreds more – it’s hard to keep up with the latest and greatest in the ice cream and frozen indulgence space. We’re here to help you learn the difference between lactose-free, animal-free, dairy-free, and plant-based ice creams, to make sure you’re clear on your summer scooping plan.
What is Lactose and Lactose Intolerance?
Lactose is a milk sugar carbohydrate that is a naturally occurring component of cow’s milk that requires an enzyme called lactase for proper digestion. About 75% of people do not naturally make enough lactase in their bodies to properly digest lactose, this digestive disorder is known as lactose intolerance. While lactose intolerance isn’t life-threatening, it can cause major discomfort. People who are lactose intolerant often have to cut out dairy products entirely or else live with the stomach consequences.
Lactose intolerance is very common and affects around 65% of the adult population. We are all born with adequate lactase enzyme levels however shortly after birth they begin to decline even with continued lactose ingestion so by the time we reach adulthood, many people are unable to digest lactose. It is actually a mutation near the gene that produces lactase that allows people to continue to produce the enzyme. This happened over 7,000 years ago, when humans began to domesticate cows and drink their milk more frequently. Now about 35% of the population has the mutation to produce lactase through adulthood. Geography also plays a role in people’s ability to digest lactose because of our ancestors’ diets. The mutation is most common in those of European descent, while those of Asian descent are more likely to have lactose intolerance.
Side effects of consuming lactose can range from mild to severe.
More common symptoms of lactose intolerance include:
- Abdominal bloating
- Abdominal pain
- Nausea and vomiting
- And in severe cases, it can present with headaches, muscle pain, joint pain, mouth ulcers, urinary symptoms, and loss of concentration.
It’s also common for people to confuse lactose intolerance with a dairy allergy, leading to potentially cutting out foods unnecessarily. A food allergy occurs when your immune system overreacts to a specific food protein and when you consume it, it can trigger an allergic reaction. Symptoms of a dairy allergy range from rashes, hives, itching, and swelling to trouble breathing, and wheezing which can be potentially life-threatening. Lactose intolerance, on the other hand, does not involve the immune system, it is a digestive disorder as a result of people missing the enzyme lactase, and it is not life-threatening.
Animal-Free is Lactose-Free
Good news – even if you are one of the 7 out of 10 people who suffer from lactose intolerance, you don’t have to miss out on a cool scoop of creamy, delicious ice cream this summer!
There are many lactose-free ice cream options out there, so we’ve outlined each to help you decide which pint to pick up:
- Plant-based/Dairy-free options are made without any animal inputs or dairy, meaning they are free of any dairy allergens or lactose. These ice creams are often made with a coconut, soy, almond or oat milk base. However, because these ice creams are plant derived, they don’t emulsify in the same way a dairy-based ice cream would and can’t achieve the same creamy texture.
- Animal-free options are also made without any animal inputs but are still real dairy minus the lactose. Since these ice creams are made with real dairy they can achieve the same creamy, taste and texture of traditional ice cream. Animal-free ice cream is a perfect option for anyone with lactose intolerance, living a vegan lifestyle or looking to reduce their environmental footprint. However, since it is real dairy, those with dairy allergies should opt for a dairy-free or plant-based option.
How do you make real ice cream without cow’s milk?
At Perfect Day we’ve partnered with nature to make the things we love while taking less space and using fewer resources. We create animal-free dairy identical to protein in cow’s milk but are made without a single cow, thanks to the magic of precision fermentation.
The magic begins with our tiny partners, microflora, which are organisms that naturally ferment in the wild and produce large amounts of protein through fermentation. We help them to adopt the genetic instructions to make cow whey protein. In a tank, the microflora ferments a broth of plant sugars and vitamins, producing non-animal whey protein that is nature-identical to whey that comes from cows. Imagine a brewery, but instead of beer, we’re brewing milk protein. Using gold-standard dairy industry technology, the protein is safely filtered, and we’re left with a pure whey protein that’s identical to the dairy protein that’s been consumed for generations. It’s identical to the classic. We just got there a different way.
Our animal-free and lactose-free dairy, has all the benefits of traditional dairy and is also cholesterol-free, hormone-free and antibiotic-free.
Get to Know our Partners
We’re partnering with retail brands and food service manufacturers to create a future you can taste and enjoy the foods you love without compromising our climate future. Here are our animal-free and lactose-free ice cream partners to check out for your ice cream fix this summer:
Brave Robot creates exceptionally delicious animal-free and lactose-free ice cream, ice cream sandwiches, and cake mix. They have the classics – Vanilla and A Lot of Chocolate as well as some more adventurous flavors like Buttery Pecan and Hazelnut Chocolate Chunk. Brave Robot is in over 8,000 stores nationwide such as Kroger, Stop & Shop, Lowes Foods, and more, you can also order directly from their website. If you haven’t had a taste yet, find a store near you.
N!ck’s is a better-for-you sweets and snacks brand that creates healthier options without compromising on taste. All of their ice creams are keto-friendly, contain no added sugars, and have fewer calories. Check out their vegan, lactose-free, and animal-free line for delicious pints in Swedish flavors like Vanilj Bean, Choklad Choklad, Karamell Swirl, and more! You can find them in stores nationwide including ACME, Pricerite, Stop & Shop, Giant, and more, they are also available to order directly from their site.
Graeter’s has over 150 years of experience making irresistibly delicious ice cream. Handcrafted in small batches, their Perfect Indulgence line of animal-free and lactose-free ice cream is available in decadent flavors such as Madagascar Vanilla, Black Cherry Chocolate Chip, Cookies & Cream and more. They are available for nationwide shipping and local delivery in select areas in Kentucky, Illinois, Pennsylvania, Indiana and Ohio.
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