Ben & Jerry's is always ready to help satisfy America's craving for ice cream, especially among vegan consumers as the company impressively offers over 20 dairy-free flavors. This week, Ava DuVernay –– the highest-grossing Black woman director in American box office history –– announced that she teamed up with Ben & Jerry's to release a vegan ice cream called Lights! Caramel! Action!

Duvernay help Ben & Jerry's craft this specialty flavor over recent months, which will be available in both dairy and vegan variations. The 13th and Selma director worked closely with Ben & Jerry's flavor guru Colleen Rossell to test out her favorite ice cream combinations before arriving at Lights! Caramel! Action! The non-dairy flavor features an almond milk base packed with salted caramel swirls, chocolate chip cookie dough, and graham cracker swirls.

"Ice cream is a simple joy of life. A comfort food that I've turned to on many days –– making sunny ones brighter and dark ones sweeter," DuVernay said. "Partnering with Ben & Jerry's, a company that I've long admired for their commitment to social justice, has been a thrill ride. I had the opportunity to work with food scientists to create a flavor with all the ingredients that I personally love for a cause close to my heart.

Lights! Caramel! Action! will be added to Ben & Jerry's permanent collection. Consumers can expect that the non-dairy versions of the ice cream will ship by January 2023. Ice cream lovers nationwide will be able to find this flavor for $6.49 per pint at retailers or at the brand's countless storefronts across the United States.

Ben & Jerry's Vegan Ice Creams With a Purpose

Ben & Jerry's new ice cream arrives after the company's fans acknowledged that Black women were consistently unrepresented in the brand's several ambassadors and initiatives. Now, DuVernay intends to create an ice cream pint to support Black women in the film industry and her non-profit ARRAY Alliance. DuVernay's proceeds will help benefit the social impact work of her non-profit to help elevate artists of color and women directors through grants mentorship, and education.

"Framing this up as a new flavor for the first Black woman to be a featured partner on our pints doesn't do Ava justice," Matthew McCarthy, Ben & Jerry's CEO, said. "We are humbled by this partnership, impressed by her work sharing not only the struggle but the joy in the justice, and we are inspired by her commitment and vision."

Now, Ben & Jerry's aims to help promote DuVernay's mission through its new personally created Lights! Caramel! Action! flavor, benefiting ARRAY directly through its ice cream sales. ARRAY Alliance helps promote the work of artists and directors of color through four distinct initiatives including the film distribution arm ARRAY Releasing, the content company ARRAY Filmworks, the programming and production hub ARRAY Creative Campus, and the non-profit group ARRAY Alliance.

"Beyond being downright delicious, proceeds from Lights! Caramel! Action! will help ARRAY Alliance further its non-profit mission of inclusion and belonging in the film and TV industries. A worthy and delicious endeavor," DuVernay said.

This ice cream flavor continues on DuVernay's previous work to both help promote Black voices and veganism. The acclaimed director rarely speaks about her vegan diet, but she released an article titled “Black Vegans Step Out, for Their Health and Other Causes” in the New York Times in 2017.

“Like many food trends that seem new, Black veganism has historical roots,” DuVernay tweeted, sharing a quote from the article. “For a lot of Black people, it’s also about social justice and food access. The food we’ve been eating has been killing us.”

Ben & Jerry’s Massive Vegan Ice Cream Portfolio

DuVernay's collaboration with Ben & Jerry's adds to the brand's extensive list of non-dairy ice creams. In total, Ben & Jerry's sold approximately 282 million pints of ice cream this year, and the company continues to help make vegan options available for hungry American customers. This January, Ben & Jerry's surpassed its 20th vegan ice cream with the release of two new dairy-free flavors are Non-Dairy Bananas Foster and the Non-Dairy Boom Chocolatta.

The beloved ice cream brand uses several dairy-free bases to replicate its creamy and dynamic ice cream flavors. The company features both sunflower butter bases and an original almond milk base. Ben & Jerry's commitment to plant-based development echoes its parent company Unilever's overarching goal to expand its vegan sector. Unilever CEO Alan Jope called vegan food an “inexorable” trend, noting that the company is “seeing in every single country in the world a shift towards more plant-based diets, even in emerging markets.”

For more plant-based happenings, check out The Beet's News articles. 

The Ultimate Vegan and Dairy-Free Ice Cream Taste Test