is chocolate vegan

Is Chocolate Vegan? A Comprehensive Guide to Vegan Chocolate

Can vegans eat chocolate? Yes! Chocolate can absolutely be vegan. Most dark chocolate is vegan, but you’ll want to inspect the label to be sure. However, chocolate containing dairy products is not vegan-friendly, and the processing of some chocolate products can also make it not vegan.

Are you on a quest to find the best quality vegan chocolate bar? Read on to learn what to look for to inform your choice!

What Makes Chocolate Vegan?

For chocolate to be considered vegan, it has to be made without ingredients that are derived from animals. Chocolate comes from cacao beans sourced from tropical climates around the world. The beans are carefully fermented, dried, roasted, ground and then placed under high pressure. The process is rounded out by mixing, rolling and conching.
Chocolate bars usually contain sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla which are all vegan-friendly. Dark chocolate is usually vegan as it shouldn’t contain dairy or other animal products. The best quality dark chocolate contains more than 50% cacao content and uses only a few ingredients. However, some brands will sneak in non-vegan ingredients that you’ll need to be on the lookout for (more on that below).

What Types of Chocolate Aren’t Vegan?

Most chocolate falls into one of three categories: dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate. While dark chocolate is usually vegan-friendly, milk and white chocolate typically are not.
  • Milk Chocolate, as the name implies, contains dairy, making it not vegan, unless it is made with a nondairy milk like oat milk or almond milk.
  • White Chocolate also frequently contains dairy products. There’s also quite a bit of debate [1] as to whether white chocolate technically qualifies as chocolate because it doesn’t usually contain cocoa solids.
As a rule of thumb, your safest bet is to choose a dark chocolate to your liking that contains vegan-approved ingredients.

Ingredients to Avoid on Chocolate Labels

While the most obvious ingredient to keep an eye out for is milk, some brands will sneak the following ingredients into the fine print of their dark chocolate that you’ll want to avoid:
  • Contains milk
  • Whey (milk derivative)
  • Casein (milk derivative)
  • Lactose (milk derivative)
  • A cholesterol level greater than 0%, since this is only found in animal products [2]
In addition, these chocolate flavors tend to contain dairy and animal products, so you’ll want to avoid these if you’re going the vegan route:
  • Caramel
  • Toffee
  • White refined sugar
Some chocolates contain added enzymes and/or “natural flavors” that may have been tested on animals. Because of this, some vegans will avoid products that contain:
  • Refined sugar
  • Honey, which is avoided by some vegans since its production can include exploitation of bees

Things to Look for On a Vegan Dark Chocolate Bar Label

 The following are things you do want to see on a vegan chocolate bar:
  • Cocoa butter that is extracted from cocoa beans
  • Vegan certification [3]
  • Fair Trade certification [4]

Is Vegan Chocolate / Dark Chocolate Healthy?

Vegan dark chocolate, especially those produced with minimal ingredients, contains powerful antioxidants. When consumed in a balanced diet, research shows [5] that dark chocolate can:
  • Improve heart health
  • Improve brain function
  • Reduce stress
  • Balance the immune system

Is There a Vegan Milk Chocolate?

vegan milk chocolate

By substituting cow's milk with milk alternatives, you can achieve a taste and texture that closely resembles traditional milk chocolate. Among these alternatives, nut milk is a commonly favored choice among vegans. Nut milk is produced by straining liquid from crushed nuts and imparts distinct flavor notes depending on the nut variety. However, if you aren't a fan of nutty flavors, consider oat milk chocolate as a delightful alternative!

Chocolates crafted using oat milk offer a superb substitute for dairy or nut-based milk chocolates in the vegan realm. Oat milk chocolate boasts a natural, creamy texture reminiscent of classic milk chocolate.

Oat milk tends to have a gentler flavor profile compared to nut milks, allowing the inherent cocoa bean nuances to shine through. Due to the presence of oats, some may detect subtle undertones of malt and cereal in the chocolate.

Further reading: Learn About Dairy-Free Oat Milk Chocolate

Where Can I Buy Vegan Chocolate?

Dr. Bronner's Magic All-One Chocolate

Nowadays, most health food stores offer a variety of vegan options. And if you’re buying online, the options are nearly limitless! These online retailers are approved by the Fair World Project, an organization that advocates for fair trade practices globally:

Helpful Resources

As you can see, there are tons of options for plant-based, vegan-friendly chocolate ready for you to try out. If you want to learn more about how we source and produce our chocolate, check out these additional resources:
Variety Pack - Dark Chocolate Bars

Variety Pack - Dark Chocolate Bars

Good for you and farmers!

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