As a vegan, you may have wondered if chocolate is vegan. After all, chocolate often contains dairy products like butter and milk. Like many other plant-based foods, chocolate can also be vegan. However, there are a few things to look out for when buying vegan chocolate, such as if the ingredients are ethically sourced.
Although plenty of vegan-friendly chocolate options exist in grocery stores, we’ll teach you how to make your own vegan-friendly chocolate at home to enable you to customize the recipe to your taste.
Plus, we’ll share some of our favorite vegan chocolate brands. So whether you’re a vegan or just looking for more vegan-friendly options, read on for the scoop on vegan chocolate!
What Is Vegan Chocolate Made Of?
Like all chocolate, vegan chocolate has cacao seeds and cocoa butter as its main ingredients. Sometimes, these are the only ingredients used, producing rich dark chocolates that taste a tad raw.
On the other hand, some vegan chocolates contain a little more plant-based ingredients, which improves their taste, making them more appealing. Some manufacturers add refined sugar, but although this is vegan-friendly, it gets better with pure plant-based sugar such as cane sugar.
Vegan chocolate does not necessarily spell the absence of milk if you can find non-dairy milk. Manufacturers use non-dairy milk, such as coconut milk, oat milk, rice milk, and almond milk to produce vegan milk chocolate.
Some manufacturers add fruits and nuts to improve the taste of vegan chocolate. You shouldn’t be surprised to see dates, almonds, and walnuts on your vegan chocolate ingredient list. These fruits and nuts also improve your chocolate’s nutritional value while making it taste better without compromising its vegan status.
Truly vegan chocolate contains no trace of dairy milk or its derivatives. Therefore, if your chocolate contains lactose, whey, or casein, it’s not vegan chocolate.
What Type of Chocolate Can Vegans Eat?
Dark chocolate is the most vegan-friendly chocolate. It contains a higher percentage of cocoa, some even up to 100%, which is the healthiest. Dark chocolate is absolutely lovely despite not containing artificial ingredients or dairy products.
Generally, though, vegans can eat any chocolate labeled vegan without animal-based products. Vegan-friendly chocolates fall into two distinct categories:
- Naturally blended chocolates without additives (usually containing 80-100% cocoa)
- Chocolates blend with plant-based additives instead of regular dairy additives
The first category produces rich dark chocolates, which though having the highest nutritional value, aren’t very tasty. In contrast, you can make chocolate in the latter category, even white creamy chocolates. You only need a substitute for the dairy cream, and coconut cream is always readily available.
If you’re a vegan for health reasons, it’d be best to avoid chocolates labeled with this warning; ‘may contain non-vegan products.’ This label is the manufacturers’ way of indicating the likelihood of cross-contamination. That is because most manufacturers produce these vegan chocolates in the same factory where they produce non-vegan milk chocolate.
A chocolate’s cholesterol level also indicates whether it’s vegan. It isn’t vegan if your chocolate has more than a 0% cholesterol level. Cholesterol is a product of animal-based constituents; thus, its presence in chocolate hints at the presence of animal-based additives.
How Can I Make My Chocolate Vegan-Friendly?
Vegan-friendly chocolate describes chocolate that does not contain any animal-based ingredient or additive. This chocolate may constitute only the basic ingredients cacao beans and cocoa butter which are plant-based or contain plant-based additives instead of animal-based ones.
Making vegan chocolate without additives is much simpler and cost-effective. You’ll only need to ground the cacao beans into cocoa powder and mix them evenly with the finely pressed cocoa butter. Then pour the dark rich mixture into the mold container of choice and refrigerate. Your dark vegan chocolate is now ready for consumption.
Another way to make your chocolate vegan-friendly is by following the same refining procedure for making regular chocolates but eliminating dairy products. In addition to your cacao beans and cocoa butter, substitute the following ingredients with their vegan counterparts.
You might want to substitute
- Dairy milk for non-dairy milk like coconut milk
- Butter for cocoa butter
- Refined sugar for cane sugar or maple syrup
- Milk derivatives (lactose and casein) for fruits and nuts (almonds, walnuts, and dates)
Steps to Making Homemade Vegan Chocolate
Here’s a step-by-step instruction for making delicious homemade vegan chocolate:
- First, purchase roasted and deshelled cocoa beans
- Next, ground the cocoa nibs to produce cocoa butter
- Afterward, separate the cocoa butter from the leftover cake and crush the cake further to produce cocoa powder
- Then produce a chocolate liquor from blended cocoa powder and add the cocoa butter
- Add other ingredients like non-dairy milk, cane sugar, walnuts, almonds, and vanilla extract, depending on your desired chocolate type
- Mix the ingredients thoroughly. It would be best to use a rotating mixer to ensure a fine and even blend
- Once you’ve attained your desired chocolate blend, pour it into mold containers and refrigerate
- Your chocolate is now ready for consumption
Is Vegan Chocolate Healthy?
Vegan chocolates are a healthy treat. Moreover, studies show that the global rise in vegan chocolate consumption is due to the increasing realization of its nutritional benefits.
You may assume that the absence of dairy products in vegan chocolates translates into reduced nutritional provision, but that is not the case. Vegan chocolate is the healthiest, especially the natural blend containing only cacao and cocoa butter. What, though, makes vegan chocolates a healthier choice?
Consider the following:
Most vegan chocolates are sugar-free, making them the perfect treat for people with diabetes. Vegan chocolate, especially dark chocolate, is a healthy regulator of blood sugar and improves the effectiveness of insulin in the body.
They are also a great choice for people on a diet. You can eat almost as much vegan chocolate that satisfies your craving without worrying about a spike in your blood sugar level, the risk of diabetes, or any sugar-related disease. Furthermore, vegan chocolate helps boost your cell functions.
Enhanced Blood Circulation
Vegan chocolate bars are also rich in flavonoids and antioxidants. These compounds are effective in controlling cholesterol levels. In addition, they also improve blood flow while other minerals assist in oxygen fixation in the blood to maintain cardiovascular health.
Provides Essential Nutrient
Beyond delightful dessert treats to satisfy your sweet tooth, chocolate bars are nutritional bars, more so when vegan. Dark vegan chocolates contain more nutrients because their preparation exposes the cacao to very little heat. Thus, the natural nutrients remain preserved in larger amounts.
The elimination of dairy products in vegan chocolate does not mean a reduction or loss in nutritional value. Remember, you’ve substituted these animal-derived products for plant-based products that provide more nutrients than their alternatives, offering the same great chocolate delight.
The following are some essential minerals vegan chocolates provide:
Vegan chocolate is also a good source of Vitamin C, especially dark chocolate varieties. They provide these nutrients and minerals in such good quantities that a 100g chocolate bar can help you reach about 98% of your daily needs in micro-minerals.
Where Can I Buy Vegan Chocolate?
Vegan chocolate is becoming increasingly popular in demand and supply. Therefore, you can find vegan chocolate in almost any convenience grocery store or supermarket.
You can also order vegan chocolate directly from the manufacturers online. Popular chocolate houses are now adopting vegan recipes, while many have been producing vegan chocolates for a while, albeit unknowingly.
If you love making chocolate recipes, several formulas exist online to help you. However, you’ll need essential ingredients like melted chocolate, maple syrup, milk powder, cacao powder, and dried fruit.
Other notable ingredients that will help improve your vegan chocolate recipe include cacao butter, oat milk, cashew butter, coconut oil, orange zest, sea salt, and peanut butter. However, they depend on the specific recipe you want to make.
Top Vegan Chocolate Brands of 2022
Although so many vegan chocolate brands exist, the following are our editor’s top picks for 2022:
Endangered Species Oat Milk Dark Chocolate
This delicious chocolate bar is made for lovers of creamy vegan dark chocolate. Its base contains oats, providing a smoother composition unlike most non-dairy chocolates leading to a cohesive balance between texture and taste.
Ten percent of Endangered Species net profits go to wildlife and conservation organizations, like the National Forest Foundation and The Dian Fossey Gorilla Fund International.
Pascha Organic White Chocolate Bars
If you’re looking for the best vegan chocolate that melts fantastically, is naturally sweetened, and is perfect for all vegans, the Pasha Organic white Chocolate bar is your best bet. This vegan milk chocolate, made without animal products, contains rice milk and other plant-based ingredients.
You might want to ensure you store it in a freezer or refrigerator if you don’t finish it in one sitting because it melts easily. Pasha also sells chocolate chips, perfect for adding to your cookie dough and pancake batter.
Nelly’s Organic Caramel Candy
You can’t say you absolutely love chocolate without tasting Nelly’s Organic caramel candy made using cacao powder, toasted coconut, pink Himalayan salt, organic raw vanilla beans, and organic chocolate liquor.
While the treats can easily fit inside your coat pockets, lunch sacks, and fanny packs, they won’t stay there for long, as you’ll keep going after the first bite.
No Whey Foods Chocolate Truffle
If you enjoy eating chocolate truffles, go for the No Whey chocolate truffle. Besides being sweet like the diary-packed option, it doesn’t contain eggs, nuts, or any allergen found in truffles.
The truffles are gluten-free and perfect for lactose-intolerant individuals, vegetarians, and vegans.
UNREAL Peanut Butter Cups
If you’re a lover of exotic vegan dark chocolate bars, consider going for UNREAL’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups. While you might easily find a classic peanut butter cup made using semisweet milk chocolate and chocolate in stores, UNREAL’s Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are better.
They contain simple ingredients like sunflower lecithin, sea salt, blue agave, peanut flour, organic palm oil, cane sugar, peanuts, and dark chocolate.
Is White Chocolate Vegan?
Although regular white chocolates are mostly non-vegan, white chocolates can be vegan. Some brands have produced delicious vegan chocolates. Moreover, you can also make white vegan chocolate by simply replacing the milk and cream ingredients with non-dairy milk and cream.
What Makes Chocolate Non-Vegan?
The dairy products used in processing chocolate make it non-vegan. These products include milk and milk derivatives like casein, lactose, and even sugar which contains bone char. However, you can also make vegan milk chocolate with non-dairy milk.
Being vegan doesn’t deprive you of enjoying a delicious chocolate treat. In its natural form, chocolate is vegan, and though commercial chocolates are widely non-vegan, you can also find some vegan options.
Moreover, you can make vegan chocolate yourself. It only requires eliminating dairy products or substituting them for plant-based ingredients. What’s more? Vegan chocolates are the healthiest, making them a great choice.
If you prefer buying, simply ensure the delicious chocolate bar you buy are fair trade products and contains ethically sourced, cruelty-free ingredients.
While chocolates are naturally vegan, adding animal products like butter or milk will turn them automatically into non-vegan. As a vegan, you need to be careful about what you eat or use. That’s why the Vegan Justice League exists to help you maintain a healthy vegan lifestyle.
Go through our other blog posts to see valuable information to help you lead a successful, vegan lifestyle.