The cool new way your Ben & Jerry’s ice cream could help the climate

FeaturedFood & DrinkLifestyle

Written by:


Do cows eat seaweed? On a Ben & Jerry’s dairy farm, yes. In May, the popular ice cream maker announced that they’ll be putting their cattle on a special diet to reduce emissions of methane.


It’s no secret that animal agriculture and dairy farming are major contributors to global climate-warming greenhouse gas emissions.  As a whole, the livestock sector is responsible for 14.5% of all GHG emissions; and, 40% of all methane emissions – a greenhouse gas 80x more potent that carbon dioxide – are specifically attributed to cows and other livestock.


SPONSORED: Find a Qualified Financial Advisor

1. Finding a qualified financial advisor doesn't have to be hard. SmartAsset's free tool matches you with up to 3 fiduciary financial advisors in your area in 5 minutes.

2. Each advisor has been vetted by SmartAsset and is held to a fiduciary standard to act in your best interests. If you're ready to be matched with local advisors that can help you achieve your financial goals get started now.






Ben and Jerry’s, of course, relies on dairy to make their famous ice cream products (imagine a world without Cherry Garcia!), but acknowledges that their milk consumption comes at a cost to the environment; nearly 50% of the company’s carbon footprint comes from the dairy they purchase from farms. They’ve launched an initiative – dubbed Project Mootopia – to tackle their climate impacts from their legions of dairy cows. The three-pronged approach includes stoking electricity-producing digestors with the 80 pounds of manure each cow produces every day, feeding their herd with crops that contain less synthetics and contribute to healthy soils, and, finally, slashing “enteric” emissions from their bovine friends.


That’s where the seaweed comes in. Every belch and fart from a dairy cow (of which there are, admittedly, many) releases methane into the atmosphere. Like all ruminants (including deer, goats, and sheep), cows have a four-chambered stomach.


The largest chamber – the rumen – contains microbes that break down food, producing as much as 50 quarts of gas an hour in the process, most of which is released by belching. To reduce that belching, Ben & Jerry’s is working with a company called Blue Ocean Barns that produces a seaweed supplement, Brominata, made from dehydrated red seaweed grown in tanks in San Diego and Hawaii. Studies show that adding just 3 ounces of seaweed to a cow’s diet can reduce methane emissions by 82%.


Cows also lose energy when they belch – about 12%  – so these supplements are a win for farmers too, who will need less feed to nourish their animals. Ben & Jerry’s is trialing Brominata – which has been approved for sale by the California Department of Food and Agriculture – on a Vermont dairy farm that provides milk for their products.


But seaweed isn’t the only dietary alternative being tested for its methane-reduction capacities: garlic and citrus extracts and mixes of green tea and oregano have proven successful as well. The sale of the feed additive Bovaer was also approved for sale in Brazil – the world’s largest beef exporter – and Chile in 2021. The long-awaited product contains the organic compound 3-NOP, which reduces methane by 30% and can be fed to cows, goats, and sheep. Also in 2021, Starbucks announced that they would be sourcing milk from cows fed Agolin: a blend of plant extracts, including coriander seed oil and wild carrot that reduces enteric emissions by about 11%.


The coffee giant, like many companies, is likely responding to pressure from consumers to address sustainability in their practices. According to a 2021 study, 60% of consumers rate sustainability as an important criteria when purchasing products. “A substantial portion of consumers are currently willing to pay for sustainability,” said Shikha Jain, author of the study, “demonstrating that there is a market for ‘mission-driven green’ companies and why we see a rise in sustainable companies around the world.” Ben & Jerry’s has already shown themselves as a leader in sustainability – with their moves towards ditching petroleum-based plastic in their packaging, installing solar panels at their Vermont factory, and introducing vegan ice cream flavors, among other initiatives – and tackling methane emissions is the next step.


Jenna Evans, global sustainability manager for Ben & Jerry’s, agrees that companies need to directly address their emissions.


“I can’t go purchase carbon offsets from a forestry project in Panama that has nothing to do with making ice cream,” said Evans in an interview with Fast Company. “I have to make direct reductions in our ice cream supply chain.”


Project Mootopia will begin with 15 farms in the U.S. and the Netherlands that produce milk for Ben & Jerry’s. The company intends on making their findings on Brominata public so other dairy farms and companies can benefit, and hopes that by 2024, these 15 farms will emit only half the industry average of greenhouse gases for dairy farms. So, someday soon, you’ll be able to enjoy a pint of Half-Baked with a side of seaweed.


This article originally appeared on and was syndicated by

More from MediaFeed:

The 27 best ice cream flavors you’ve never heard of


You scream, I scream, we all scream for weird ice cream flavors!


Unless you’re lactose intolerant, the chances are high that you’re a fan of ice cream. Be it classic vanilla or more adventurous flavors like Rocky Road, there’s an ice cream flavor for any set of taste buds.


If you’re looking to expand your ice cream horizons and find some Instagram-worthy flavors, keep reading!


Note that flavors may be seasonal or limited edition and therefore currently unavailable.





Lobster lovers can get lobster-flavored ice cream from Ben & Bill’s Chocolate Emporium in where else but Maine! It’s made with chunks of actual lobster meat in vanilla ice cream.


Ben & Bill’s


  • Torimi Cafe
  • Japan, 〒657-0836 Hyogo, Kobe, Nada Ward, Shironouchidori, 3 Chome−2−14

Torimi Cafe serves up bird-themed ice cream while letting visitors also hang out with birds in the cafe. One flavor is Cockatiel, which is made with honey, apple, pumpkin and sunflower seeds … you know, bird foods!


Torimi Cafe


  • Jeni’s
  • Various stores

As part of its Ice Cream for Breakfast campaign, Jeni’s released this Everything Bagel ice cream. While it was a limited edition, some grocery stores may still have some in stock.




If peanut butter and jelly isn’t a sweet enough combination for you, Max and Mina added caramel fluff to this delectable treat! This one is a must-try for only the most serious of sweet tooth cravings.


Max and Mina’s


Have your alcohol and eat it too with Odd Fellows’ boozy ice cream line. One popular pint is the Gin and Coconut.


Odd Fellows


Goosebump fans young and old will be glad to know Salt and Straw has brought back its Monster Blood ice cream. It’s made with citrus, “green goo” and red strawberry bark.


Salt and Straw


Humphry Slocombe’s Hong Kong Milk Tea is another fan-favorite flavor that’s been brought back. It’s made with organic tea, condensed milk and almond cookies.


Humphry Slocombe


OK, so this is technically gelato. Il Laboratorio del Gelato created this beautiful black-and-white poppyseed ice cream that will surely be a hit among your foodie followers.


Il Laboratorio del Gelato


Creole Creamery created this punchy sorbet for those looking for a less sweet dessert. It’s a combination of mango, Tahin and chamoy, giving you sugar, spice and everything nice with every bite!


Creole Creamery


Mondays are a drag, but this Monday Sundae by Big Gay Ice Cream certainly is anything but! It’s made with twisted chocolate and vanilla soft serve and dulce de leche and whipped cream as toppings. The best part? The waffle cone is lined with Nutella!


Big Gay Ice Cream


This limited edition treat was served up by Sweet Action Ice Cream for the Easter season. It was made with Cadbury Eggs and vanilla ice cream.


Sweet Action Ice Cream


Azucar Ice Cream combines sweet and salty with this unique flavor. It’s made with cream cheese and guava mixed in vanilla ice cream.


Azucar Ice Cream


Leopold’s Ice Cream has made a name for itself online with its Tutti Frutti ice cream. This flavor is made with rum ice cream, candied fruits and roasted Georgia pecans. Leopold’s has been serving Tutti Frutti since 1919, and you can even ship it to your home!


Leopold’s Ice Cream


Wingie Ice Cream fans are head over heels for Roasted Garlick! It’s made with garlic-flavored vanilla ice cream and is a staple flavor at Wingie.


Wingie Ice Cream


Few flavors are as polarizing as black licorice. But Capannari Ice Cream has embraced the derision with this limited-edition flavor.


Capannari Ice Cream


  • Kenny Lover
  • 796 High Street Thornbury, Victoria, Australia

We all have that friend who puts soy sauce on everything. Well, Kenny Lover is that friend. They’ve put soy sauce on chocolate ice cream, creating a fan-favorite that’s made the place famous online.


You may have never tried squid ink before, but Masiwa offers luxury squid ink-flavored ice creams, coffees and other treat. It’s got a photo-worthy black color served in glasses with its cute octopus mascot!


Masiwa_2006 / Instagram


  • No longer available in stores, but you can make it yourself!

In 2019, French’s partnered with CoolHaus to create mustard-flavored ice cream. You can’t find these limited-edition pints in stores anymore, but you can now find a recipe on McCormick’s website.


French’s / McCormick


Looking for some southern flavors in your ice cream? Craft Creamery made a jalapeo cornbread-flavored ice cream that may just be the ticket! It may look like plain vanilla, but it certainly has a kick to it.


Craft Creamery


Bacon. Vanilla ice cream. Chocolate. Cookies. Need we say more? Cacao al Cubo dipped a traditional ice cream cookie sandwich in chocolate and sprinkled it with bacon bits. What’s not to like?


Cacao al Cubo


Strawberry, salt and chocolate: What’s not to like? OwowCow recently released this strawberry salted stracciatella, which balances sweet strawberries and chocolate with Maldon sea salt.




We’re traveling back to Odd Fellows for another weird flavor: olive oil. The company admits that it’s an odd flavor, but they claim the flavor is “bomb.”


Odd Fellows


  • Eishaus 
  • 117 Park Place, Covington, Kentucky

OK, so this isn’t actually spaghetti-flavored ice cream! Eishaus has a special machine to make its ice cream look like noodles and tops it with chocolate sauce and cookie crumbles, making it look like gravy and cheese.





Jacob’s Eats & Treats released a buffalo wings-flavored pint in February. This limited edition flavor combined vanilla ice cream, buffalo flavoring and fried sugar crisps.


Jacob’s Eats & Treats


Salt and Straw is getting fancy with this toasted anise ice cream! While Monster Blood may be for the kids, this flavor requires a more refined pallet. It’s made with vanilla ice cream, rhubarb jam and toasted anise.


Salt and Straw


For those who aren’t a fan of sugary sweets, spicy pickle paleta from El Paraiso Ice Cream may be for you! It’s made with pickle and Hot Cheetos flavor to give it a spicy and savory kick.


El Paraiso Ice Cream


  • Jordan’s
  • 894 Laconia Rd in Belmont New Hampshire

Still looking for more spicy ice cream? Jordan’s has a white chocolate habanero that may be for you. It’s a traditional milk-based ice cream made with habanero seasoning and topped with white chocolate chips.




Full disclosure: This spooky treat is only available around Halloween. But that gives you plenty of time to plan your trip to The Parlour! This black-colored ice cream is sprinkled with black sesame throughout, which many commenters on this Instagram post say tastes a lot like peanut butter with more earthy undertones.


The Parlour


Featured Image Credit: Depositphotos.