Can vegans eat chocolate? Yes…sometimes.
Vegans do eat chocolate, but it depends on how it is made. Not all chocolate is vegan, but like any other foods, vegans can eat chocolate that does not contain animal products and meets vegan dietary guidelines.
Don’t worry! There is a whole slew of vegan chocolates out there. Some vegan certified, some accidentally vegan.
But, before we get down brass tax, let’s back up a bit and talk about where our chocolate obsession started, and exactly how chocolate is made.
Check out these other articles to get the answer to more pressing questions!
Our Chocolate Obsession Goes Way Back
Chocolate originally comes from Mesoamerica, in modern Mexico and Central America. The Olmecs were the first people to use the cacao pods to create chocolate. The Mayans and Aztecs followed, and drinks made from chocolate was a favorite of these peoples. Chocolate-making in this part of the world dates back to 1900 BC.
These peoples used chocolate for important ceremonies and rituals, and also for consuming on a daily basis. It was so important that the Mayans even had their own cacao trees in their personal gardens. They even stockpiled the stuff by drying it.
Cortez and the early European explorers of this region of the world learned that cocoa was so valuable that it could be used as a currency.
Chocolate was later introduced to Europe in the 16th century, but it really took off across the continent the following century. From there, the cacao fruit began to spread around the world. Today, West African countries like Côte d’Ivoire and Cameroon are the world’s largest producers of cocoa.
Since these early days, chocolate has taken on many different forms. Vegans can eat some of these forms of chocolate, but not all. Let’s take a closer look.
Modern Chocolate Making – From Cacao to Chocolate
The cacao in its most raw form is plant-based, but is often not edible without further processing.
The cacao seeds are intensely bitter, so they have to be fermented to get that great chocolate taste we all know and love. After the fermentation process, the beans have to be dried before they are roasted.
Inside the shell is the treasure; the cocoa nibs. Vegans can eat cocoa nibs in this form as a snack or garnish, but we will get to that later.
In chocolate production, the cocoa nibs are grounded down into a nice cocoa mass. From there the cocoa mass is turned into liquid by heating it. This heated liquid is referred to as chocolate liquor. When the chocolate liquor is cooled down it is divided into either cocoa solids or cocoa butter.
Sometimes the raw bitter chocolate is also called baking chocolate. There are varying amounts of cocoa solids and cocoa butter depending on the brand.
The name may sound misleading, but cocoa butter is actually completely vegan, as it contains no dairy. So vegans can consume and use chocolate in this form. In fact, if you’re a fan of white chocolate, you’re a fan ofcocoa butter. Which is what this type of chocolate is made from.
From these raw early forms, fats like butter, milks and oils are added to chocolate. Also sweeteners and sugars are mixed into many chocolates for a more pleasurable experience.
Vegan do not eat most of these chocolates, unless the fats and sweeteners are plant based.
How Chocolate is Used – Melt, mold, shape, stir… or just pop in your mouth
As one of the most popular foods in the world, chocolate can be infused into anything from cakes to cookies, to drinks to puddings.
Deserts that are made with chocolate are extremely popular worldwide. Some examples are chocolate mousse, brownies, a variety of cakes, and also chocolate pies.
Cocoa powder is often used for baking. Vegans can eat chocolate cakes that are created with this raw cocoa powder, as long as the other ingredients are dairy free and plant based.
Chocolate covered nuts, fruits, candy, fruits and pretty much anything you can think of is another way we love to consume chocolate. But one of the most popular forms that chocolate is the good ol’ chocolate bar.
Chocolate bars are broken up into two main categories, dark chocolate and milk chocolate. The dark chocolate bars are often more likely to be vegan. And yes, vegans do eat chocolate bars and plenty of them.
Going back to ancient times in Mesoamerica, chocolate has been consumed as a beverage. It was a big hit in 17th century Europe, the royals often drank them at gatherings. In modern times, chocolate milk is a huge seller around the globe. Hot chocolate, the warmer cousin of chocolate milk, is also extremely popular.
Chocolate has even found its way into alcoholic beverages, like creme de cacao and other snazzy cocktails. There are even beers nowadays like some dark porters that have a chocolatey flavor.
Chocolate can also be used as a filling in doughnuts and pastries. It’s one of the most popular flavors of ice cream, and can easily be found most anywhere.
Chocolate can be drizzled in liquid form over creamy treats like sundaes. And, of course, chocolate chips are used as a topping, in cookies, in ice cream, and in cakes or muffins and cupcakes. Speaking of cakes, chocolate icing is a pretty big deal.
Whichever form, nowadays, it’s likely that vegans can find a cruelty-free option to enjoy out there. So the answer to – Can vegans eat chocolate? is YES, and in every imaginable form!
The Biggest Chocoholics in the World?
Per capita, the countries that consume the most chocolate annually are Switzerland, Germany, Ireland, Sweden, and the United Kingdom.
Chocoholics is a term used for people that are addicted to chocolate. These countries have a higher average of vegans, and vegans do eat chocolate in these countries fairly regularly.
Germany alone consumes a quarter of the Western European market of chocolate.
When many people hear the name Switzerland they conjure up images of chocolate delights. It is hard to visit the alpine nation and not return home with at least a few boxes of chocolates. But tourists aren’t the only ones who love these Swiss treats!
The Swiss themselves consume 19 pounds of chocolate per person a year!
Do Vegans Eat Chocolate? Probably Not These!
More often than not, a lot of the big chocolate makers like Hershey’s, Nestle, Mars, GODIVA, and Ghirardelli are not vegan.
These chocolate producers add milk, whey, and dairy butter to their chocolates. So, obviously, they won’t make the cut!
If you’re every in doubt, check the ingredients for animal products. They are pretty easy to spot.
As one of the most popular products on the planet, it’s no surprise that more and more vegan chocolate brands are popping up. Making it less common to hear the question “Can vegans eat chocolate?”
These brands are geared to the vegan market and are clearly marked with labels to indicate they are vegan and, thus, do not contain animal products.
Some of these brands have even begun to make milk chocolate and hot chocolate from non-dairy milks made from almond, soy, oats, peas, and other nuts or grains.
Many of these vegan chocolate companies are bio too, and often fair-trade.
Vegan Chocolate Brands
- Charm School Chocolates
- Doisy & Dam
- Go Max Go Foods
- Lagusta’s Lucious
- LuLu’s Chocolate
- Manifest Chocolates
- Missionary Chocolates
- MooFree Chocolates
- Ombar Chocolates
- Pico Chocolates
- Plamil So Free Organic Chocolate
- Raaka Chocolate
- Raw Chocolate Company
- Rescue Chocolate
- Rose City Vegan Chocolatier
- Sjaaks Organic Chocolates
- Wei of Chocolates
- Veganz Chocolates
- VEGO Chocolates
Other Vegan Chocolate
As with any product, ingredients can vary from country to country, and can change over time. So, please read the ingredients label before making a purchase.
- Most Endangered Species Chocolates
- Terra Nostra Rice Milk Choco Bars
- Chocolove Dark with Orange Peel
- Trader Joe’s Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
- Ritter Sport – The single-origin 61% Fine Dark Chocolate from Nicaragua, Intense Dark Chocolate from Peru, 50% Dark Chocolate, and the Marzipan chocolate
- Green & Black’s Dark Chocolate
- Lindt – Lindt EXCELLENCE range with 70%, 85%, 90% and 99%, Hello-Vegan range
- Cadbury Plant Bar Line
- Viviana’s Vegan Options
Also, pure cacao nibs now come in packs that make snacking easy for vegans. But look out, cocoa beans have caffeine, and stimulants can sometimes cause adverse effects if too much is consumed.
But again, there are experts who argue that there are some health benefits to these cocoa nibs. Risk or no risk, vegans do eat chocolate in this form as an easy snack with an energy boost.
So, Can Vegans Eat Chocolate?
Of course, checking for the vegan logo is probably the easiest way to find out if the chocolate is vegan. But chocolate comes in so many different varieties and forms that that is not always so easy.
One tip is that chocolate of high quality can more often than not be vegan, but this too can be a little tricky. The key is simple ingredients in their most basic manner, a short ingredient list is often an indication of a healthier nicely made chocolate.
Many local chocolatiers also create chocolates that vegans can eat, so jump in and ask them.
So, vegans do eat chocolate, and it is easier to find with each passing year.