Is dark chocolate is vegan? The answer is not as straightforward as you may think. Read on to learn how to spot vegan chocolate and ways you can continue to indulge in smooth, rich chocolate while still being vegan.
Is Dark Chocolate Always Vegan?
High-quality, dark chocolate is normally a trusted option for vegans. This is because chocolate’s main ingredient is the cacao bean, grown in cacao trees, making chocolate a, first-and-foremost, plant-based food. Another main ingredient in chocolate is cocoa butter, which too is plant-based, and so totally fine for vegans to eat.
In most cases, any chocolate with a cacao content over 50 percent should be good for vegans to eat. But that’s not always the case! Make sure to check the ingredients list for any hidden milk derivatives or added treats such as caramel or biscuit chunks. You’ll learn how to identify non-vegan ingredients in the next paragraph.
How to Tell If Chocolate is Vegan or Not
Vegan dark and milk chocolate is more available on your supermarket shelves than you may think. You just need to know what to look out for when reading the ingredients.
Non-vegan ingredients in chocolate include:
- Milk: Unsurprisingly, if chocolate has milk in it, it is not suitable for vegans. Generally speaking, any milk or white chocolate will contain milk and so should be avoided for a vegan diet.
- Milk Derivatives: These ingredients are used as a cheap alternative to cow’s milk, but are still not vegan. They include milk solids, milk fat, milk powder, lactose, casein and whey powder.
- Lecithin: This ingredient is also used as a cheap filler for chocolate instead of cow’s milk. Lecithin generally comes from eggs, and so is most definitely not vegan.
A rule of thumb for vegan chocolate is that the fewer ingredients, the better. Typically speaking, chocolate’s main ingredients should be sugar, cocoa butter (which yes, is vegan!) and vanilla. Any other added ingredients could mean that chocolate is not suitable for vegans, and so make sure to double-check if you are following a vegan diet or are looking for a vegan chocolate bar next time you are at the shops.
Vegan Chocolate Options If You Prefer Milk Chocolate
The bitterness of vegan dark chocolate is not for everybody. But no need to worry, because there’s an abundance of vegan milk chocolate options out there to satisfy your cocoa cravings, for example:
- TAZA Chocolate: Taza’s Almond Milk Classic bar is vegan, organic and the cacao used is direct trade. You can find them here.
- Trader Joe’s Organic Almond Beverage Chocolate Bar: Trader Joe has created a nut-based, dairy-free and gluten-free chocolate bar from organic almond milk. They are available at Trader Joe’s, but you can find more information on them here.
- Even conventional chocolate brands like Hershey’s are making extra commitments to produce plant-based products. Their new Oat Made, dairy-free line of vegan milk chocolate bars are made with almond milk. Available in Target, or shop online here.
Note: We at Utopia recommend buying chocolate from organic brands that use ethically sourced cocoa. You’ll find recommendations here: 9 Incredible Chocolate Brands for Vegans
How to Use Dark Chocolate in Vegan Recipes
The good news is that chocolate vegan treats don’t need to end at dairy-free chocolate bars. There are endless vegan options for sweet chocolate desserts that are sure to make your mouth water and head for seconds.
Why not try our Vegan Chocolate Mousse recipe? It uses unsweetened cacao powder, a rich, dairy-free ingredient that can be used in so many chocolate-based desserts, like Vegan Brownie Mug Cakes, and Homemade Hot Cocoa.
Dark chocolate itself can also be incorporated in loads of delicious sweet treats, like our Vegan Peppermint Chocolate Cookies which we guarantee won’t last long!
- Going Vegan: 5 Simple Steps Towards Veganism
- Cacao vs. Cocoa Powder: What’s the Difference?
- Removing Chocolate Stains: 3 Ways to Get Chocolate Out of Clothes
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