Is Chocolate Vegan?
Not all chocolate is created equally, so therefore not all chocolate is vegan. But I hear you cry chocolate itself comes from a plant, so it must vegan. Wrong – only some chocolate is vegan.
So if you’re vegan or thinking about going vegan and wondering if chocolate is still on the menu. You’ll be delighted to know as a Vegan “Yes” you can still eat chocolate(yay), but not all chocolate(boo), so you’ll have to be diligent.
Chocolate comes from cocoa beans in the pod of a cocoa tree (making it a plant seed), and therefore vegan, but it doesn’t always stay that way. Going from the tree to the supermarket shelf, additives go in, like sugar and milk or milk fat. So chocolate starts out as vegan but can become non-vegan along the chocolate-making process.
But craft, artisan or bean-to-bear chocolate, unlike mainstream chocolate processing, will have a higher chocolate content, pure ingredients, and little to no additives. Using, only three ingredients: cocoa, cocoa butter, sugar (and occasionally lecithin). Flavoured bars can have other ingredients too like vanilla, nuts or fruit(called inclusions).
Triple threat Chocolate.
Photograph by Federation Chocolate, Tasmania.
The three main chocolate types:
- Dark: cocoa beans, cocoa butter & sometimes sugar
- Milk: cocoa beans, cocoa butter, sugar & milk powder
- White: cocoa butter(which gives its pale colour), milk powder and sugar
Cocoa butter, despite its name, is 100% vegan and dairy-free. It’s part of the fatty portion of the cocoa bean, responsible for giving chocolate that indulgent melt-in-your-mouth moment.
Dark is best for vegan out of the 3 main chocolate types, and craft or bean-to-bar chocolate is even better, as chocolate makers only use the best ingredients available, while taking a “less is more approach”.
“Cocoa butter, is 100% vegan and dairy-free. It’s part of the fatty portion of the cocoa bean, giving chocolate that indulgent melt-in-your-mouth moment.”
So most chocolate is not vegan because of the additives used, so when you see anything labelled “Milk” it’s most likely not vegan. But there are producers out there making “milk” chocolates from non-dairy substitutes. When you see chocolate labelled “Dark” it could also have milk(mostly lower quality ones) so you need to stay diligent, checking all the ingredients.
Checking those labels
It can get confusing reading labels, where are all the normal words? So here are some names “dairy products” masquerade under and what you need to watch out for:
- Whey, casein, or lactose (milk derivatives)
- “Contains milk” (in allergy statement)
- Cholesterol level greater than 0% (cholesterol is only found in animal products)
- Plus check for inclusions e.g. caramel, toffees, they may include dairy too
So don’t panic there are many delicious dairy-free options available for chocolate-loving vegans, and if you’re thinking about going vegan you can still indulge in a chocolate treat.
Do you have a favourite vegan chocolate?
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