Another week, another giveaway – the fourth of the summer here on Farmers Market Vegan, to be precise. This one comes at the prompting of my Coconut Bliss giveaway back in June, in which I relayed to you all the inner turmoil I experienced in deciding whether or not to run the giveaway after a representative contacted me. If you remember, soon after agreeing to host the giveaway, I discovered that in 2011 Coconut Bliss became majority owned by Lochmead Dairy, and thus that by following through with my agreement I would essentially be providing publicity for a dairy company by extension.
Obviously, I did end up running the Coconut Bliss giveaway, concluding that the imperfect state of the world renders “pure” veganism impossible and that the giveaway would provide an ideal opportunity to contact Lochmead and encourage them to expand their non-dairy options. But I still felt a bit of discomfort in devoting a blog post and giveaway to an ultimately non-vegan company – no matter how impressive their non-dairy ice creams and otherwise ethical practices – especially considering the existence of quality vegan ice cream purveyors that don’t engage with animal agriculture (or, at least not as directly. Again, imperfect world, people).
So I contacted one of those purveyors: the NYC-based DF Mavens (the “DF” standing for dairy-free, of course!). After explaining my desire to highlight a less questionable brand of ice cream, the folks at DF Mavens responded with enthusiasm, explaining their devotion to supporting the animal rights movement and vegan community. Indeed, a portion of all of DF Mavens’ profits goes to the national animal advocacy organization Mercy for Animals, while the company’s Board of Advisors includes such passionate and well-known animal/vegan advocates as Victoria Moran, Joshua Katcher, and Rich Roll. Though headed by one of the premier (non-vegan) ice cream consultants, DF Mavens functions independently of any dairy operation and is strongly backed by the decidedly vegan managing and marketing firm known as PlantBased Solutions.
And, oh-so importantly, DF Mavens’ ice cream positively excels in quality, thanks to its unique variety of flavors, full-bodied taste, rich mouthfeel, and unparalleled creaminess. Certified gluten-free and kosher, and named by VegNews as the Best New Vegan Product at Natural Products Expo West 2013, DF Mavens claims that it has set a “new standard for dairy-free ice cream,” and I honestly cannot argue. DF Mavens produces three lines of ice cream, each based in a different type of non-dairy milk: coconut, soy, and almond. Impressively, all of them harbor the same decadent, silky-smoothness – the almond-based ice creams taste just as rich as the coconut-based ones! Clearly mindful of dietary allergies and restrictions (please note: I don’t include vegan in this categorization since I don’t consider it an inherently restrictive diet), DF Mavens also produces two sugar-free flavors, both of which have a coconut base.
The generous folks at DF Mavens sent me a sampling of five of their flavors, including at least one from each of the company’s three lines. From the coconut milk line, I received the Del Lago Chocolate and the Alphonso Mango; from the soy milk line, New Orleans Salted Praline; and from the almond milk line, Mint Almond Cookie and Caramel Apple Almond. (NOTE: though the Food Empowerment Project does not yet include DF Mavens on its list of recommended ethically sourced chocolate companies, the folks at DF Mavens assured me that they source the chocolate in their ice cream from areas where industry slavery is not practiced.)
Described as “a deep dark dreamy chocolate crafted from the finest cacao in Venezuela’s tropical lowlands,” the Del Lago Chocolate held a complexity of flavor that I certainly don’t usually expect from chocolate ice creams – they tend to taste rather one-note to me, and have since childhood. Surprisingly, I found myself “mmm”-ing just as happily with spoonfuls of DF Mavens’ chocolate ice cream as with the others sent to me.
Harboring a more unctuous creaminess than the other ice creams, the Alphonso Mango boasted small chunks of mango for pleasant textural interest and provided me with clear recollections of biting into juicy, succulent fresh mangoes.
Perhaps my favorite ice cream of the bunch, the New Orleans Salted Praline featured a swirling river of sticky salted caramel punctuated by glorious pecans – the richest and sweetest of all nuts, in my humble opinion. I only wish that each pint of this flavor contained a higher density of pecans, for I enthusiastically welcome a contrast of crunchiness among the otherwise smooth ice cream.
Though not usually a huge fan of mint-flavored desserts, I absolutely inhaled the Mint Almond Cookie ice cream, which offered a chunk of homemade, gluten-free, Oreo-like sandwich cookie with every intensely minty spoonful.
Finally, the Caramel Apple Almond sufficiently wowed me with its saccharine flavor and sticky texture, impressively akin to a real caramel apple – indeed, DF Mavens claims that licking a cone of this ice cream “is almost the same as eating a caramel apple.” Crunch factor aside, I would have to concur in regards to flavor.
After this foray into DF Mavens’ world of non-dairy ice creams, I’m eager to taste their other flavors, most notably the Cardamom Pistachio, Peanut Butter Fudge Mash, Sicilian Hazelnut Truffle, and Key Lime Creme.
I’m also eager to help one of you enjoy a DF Mavens foray of your own! Simply click on one of the links at the top and bottom of this post to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for your chance to win four whole pints of DF Mavens vegan ice cream. Unfortunately, due to shipping costs and product sensitivity, this giveaway is only open to residents of New York City and its five boroughs. For those of you not included in this stipulation, check out the retailers near you that carry DF Mavens or order some for yourself!
This giveaway will end at 11:59 pm on Sunday, August 3, and I will announce the winner on the following day.
I was not paid to run this giveaway, though I was provided with free product samples. All opinions are completely my own.
In solidarity, Ali.