The demand for vegan ice cream is on the rise, and food manufacturers throughout the country are taking note of this important cultural and economic shift. In fact, popular Vermont ice cream Ben and Jerry's has even made the shift to offer vegan and dairy-free options for their growing number of consumers who identify as vegan and vegetarian.

Who's going vegan?

This trend is particularly prevalent among younger Americans. It's estimated that 12% of Americans under the age of 50 claim to be vegan or vegetarian in 2016 and this number is only expected to increase.

But this small population has sent ripples throughout the food industry. The vegan or vegetarian food industry was worth an estimated $2 billion in 2017. The revenue saw an increase of about 23% from 2016.

Whether you're vegan by choice, necessity, or otherwise, there's no doubt that the vegans have managed to shake up the dessert industry. Here's what you should know about vegan ice cream before you're ready to invest in a vegan lifestyle.

vegan ice cream

Vegan: What is it?

Veganism is a type of diet and lifestyle that refuses the consumption of any animal products. As such, the favorite items in your fridge will likely be replaced by healthy, animal-free alternatives. No more milk, no more eggs, and -- maybe worst of all -- no more ice cream.

Luckily, countless manufacturers, producers, restaurants, and grocery stores have began to become more accommodating for their growing vegan clientele. The demand for meat-free food options and meat alternatives surged nearly 987% in 2017.

Many non-vegans also want to provide vegan options for their friends. A recent study showed that vegan food searches garner almost three times as much traffic as vegetarian and gluten-free searches online, while the number of saved searches for "vegan desserts" on Pinterest has increased by 329%.

How do you make vegan ice cream?

Even though people have begun to shift away from animal products, it doesn't mean that they have to give up all of life's luxuries. Countless alternatives are used to mimic the appearance, flavor, and consistency of one of our favorite summertime treats: ice cream.

Though this might seem blasphemous to some, vegan ice cream has become a hugely popular product among vegans and dairy-free eaters alike. Producers will use almond milk, coconut milk, and even avocados to create a luxurious dining experience. At least partially thanks to veganism, almond milk is expected to be worth over $5 billion by 2024.

Before you dip your spoon into your favorite dessert cup, you might take a moment to wonder what vegan options could appeal to you.