Before we began looking at the various vegan chocolate options, we think it’s best to start by detailing the process of making chocolate.
The cocoa tree is the first step in the process. In West Africa and Latin America, farmers harvest cocoa beans between October and December. The beans are sun-dried and sent to a factory for processing after being placed between layers of banana leaves for six days to drain the pulp. The beans are fermented and roasted there, however; some chocolatiers use unroasted cocoa to make chocolate bars. After that, they're broken down into cacao nibs, which are little pieces of cocoa butter. The nibs are ground into cocoa liquor, which is then extracted from the fatty portion, known as cocoa butter. The cacao nibs are processed further into cocoa solids, which are then blended with varying amounts of sugar and milk (traditionally) depending on the type of bar being produced. The cocoa bean is ground into cocoa powder after the nibs are extracted, which is used in baking and beverages.
But what if you’re vegan?
For all you chocolate-loving vegans out there, chocolate can of course be vegan. Chocolate is made from cacao beans, which are obtained from cacao trees. This means that chocolate is, by definition, a plant-based product. When you consider the method of making chocolate and the various ingredients that are often used in the final product, such as milk, the question of whether chocolate is vegan becomes a little more complicated.
Vegan chocolate is described as chocolate made without the use of animal ingredients. If you're a chocolate connoisseur looking for vegan chocolate or any other type, the first thing you can do is look at the ingredient list. Look for chocolate bars with the fewest ingredients possible. Chocolate liquor, sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla should all be included in a traditional chocolate bar. The fewer ingredients in the delicious vegan chocolate bar you've been eyeing, the purer it is. Vegans should choose high-quality dark chocolate. Look for chocolate that has cacao content of 50% or higher.
The higher the cacao percentage, the more chocolate there is (and the less likely it is that milk has been added). There’s also plenty of chocolate with nuts, dried fruit, or mint that’s suitable for vegans, as these inclusions are vegan-friendly. Chocolates with caramel, peanut butter, truffles, or toffee fillings should be avoided unless they are explicitly marked as vegan. Dark chocolates, on the other hand, are not all made equal. As a general rule, double-check the ingredient label, as some brands use milk or dairy-derived fillers, such as milk fat, in their dark chocolates.
Is vegan chocolate the same as regular chocolate?
The short answer is no, vegan chocolate does not taste exactly like a classic milk chocolate from the likes of Hershey’s or Cadbury’s. That said, dairy milk is not needed in chocolate for it to taste divine! Take a look at our Cookies & Cream Mega Bar, which is not only loved by vegans! We also have our Lotus Mega Bar, Bourbon Mega Bar, with all of the ingredients clearly displayed on each product page. If you’re looking for vegan chocolate, or a quality chocolate bar with a deep cocoa hit, you’ve come to the right place!