Nothing refreshes like a creamy cup or cone of ice cream on a hot summer's day, but what to do if you are avoiding dairy? Fortunately, options abound, and we vegans are not limited to sorbet or FrozFruit (although those, too, are viable options, as are Italian Ices and CocoMango icies.)
Several vegan ice cream parlors exist in the city. The best of these three is Stogo in the East Village, across the street from St. Mark's Church. They have almost as many flavor options as a Baskin Robbins, and I haven't yet found one I didn't like. Soy, coconut milk, and hemp milk based ice creams as well as sorbets are available. One can also have an ice cream sandwich made-to-order with vegan cookies.
Another option is Lulu's Sweet Apothecary, which I don't go to that often because it's way over on Avenue B and 6th street, but the ice cream is very good. This place is kitschy and designed like an old time sweet shop, and along with a host of flavors (some gluten-free, as well) they have a zillion toppings, sundaes, malted milkshake, etc. Some of their ice cream is also offered at Sustainable NYC, which is on 9th and A and is a little less of a schlepp.
I was delighted to discover that a vegan ice cream option also exists in Midtown! Kyotofu, an Asian restaurant on 48th and 9th Ave, has soymilk soft serve which will fool even the most diehard Mr. Softee fan. 2 flavors are available daily and a small comes with a free topping, most of which are vegan. I sampled the green tea and black sesame flavors recently and they were terrific.
Additionally, most vegan restaurants serve vegan ice cream, although generally not to take out. Most health food stores sell a variety of vegan ice creams as well. Tofutti is a well-known brand which has been around for years, primarily to serve the Jewish Kosher community who can't have a dairy dessert after a meat meal. I don't particularly advocate this brand because, despite being quite tasty, it has a lot of chemicals. Other options have sprung up, however including Soy Delicious, which offers soy and coconut milk ice creams with a minimum of additives, Tempt, which is made from hemp milk, and Rice Dream, which is made from rice milk and is very light. I also highly recommend Ciao Bella's Blackberry Cabernet sorbet.
Even if you are not a vegan, if you are lactose intolerant or watching your weight or cholesterol, these various vegan treats are superior to their dairy counterparts, and you will not be missing anything taste-wise.