Vegan ice cream

Breyers new non-dairy almond milk ice cream.

Bob Kasarda, The Times

While growing up in the 1960s and '70s in Gary, ice cream seemed to be at the center of our lives.

I am not kidding you. It was there at every birthday party, of course, but it was also one of the more coveted items in our home of four children.

It was right up there with the various Hostess treats my mom had taken to freezing in a futile attempt to keep us from inhaling them before they could be packed away in our lunch boxes.

Ice cream was one of the few foods in the house we were not supposed to partake of on our own. Rather, we were supposed to wait for those glorious evenings when, unannounced, my mom would reach into the freezer and gift us each with a carefully sliced portion of the frozen wonder.

It was served sliced, of course, because the type of ice cream my mom typically bought was Neapolitan, which featured even rows of vanilla, strawberry and chocolate. Each of us was to share in equal portions of all three flavors.

Yet someone in our family was clearly violating this policy, as was made clear by the frequent breaches into the coveted chocolate row. But I digress.

All these memories came flooding back to me last week when while I came across the new Breyers non-dairy (almond milk) ice cream at the Meijer store in Michigan City.

What a find. Sure, there have been other brands of tasty non-dairy ice cream available for many years. But I have come to pass over them as they are served up in small pints at prices that surpass the more familiar and heart-warming quart-and-a-half sizes.

I grabbed one of the Oreo-flavored Breyers and then grabbed a second carton just in case this was a fluke that would never be repeated. I do live in Indiana, after all.

Racing home, I dug deep with a scoop, breaking with family tradition of cutting with a knife. I then topped it off with a vegan caramel sauce and savored the moment and memories.

I also reflected on how it just gets easier and easier to eat and otherwise live as a vegan, even here in Indiana.

The best part? Those little vegan chunks of Oreo cookies were scattered freely throughout the ice cream. No more having to put up with strawberry and vanilla to get at the chocolate.

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Bob is a 22-year veteran of The Times. He covers county government and courts in Porter County, federal courts, police news and regional issues. He also created the Vegan in the Region blog, is an Indiana University grad and lifelong region resident.