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Veganuary and Chocolate

Many people attempting Veganuary each year ask us: “Can I still eat chocolate?” Well, great news – you absolutely can! In fact, most of the chocolate in our library is vegan.

Dark craft chocolate, so long as it isn’t a flavoured bar with a non-vegan ingredient, is perfectly fine for Veganuary. Be careful buying dark chocolate from the supermarket, though, as lots of it isn’t actually vegan – read on for more.

WHAT IS VEGANUARY?

When we started to research Veganuary we were amazed to find that it has “only” been around since 2014.  And the term veganism is new(ish), being first used by Donald Watson in 1944, although its roots go way, way further back – to Pythagoras and the world of Ancient Greece.

Veganuary was set up by Jane Land and Matthew Glover from their kitchen in York, and launched in January 2014.  It’s very much focused on vegan food, giving veganism “a go”, supported by loads of recipes (see here for some of ours), food suggestions, product guides and starter kits (see here for our chocolate boxes) and is an interesting means to start the year differently.

According to Wikipedia, over 500,000 people have “sign(ed) up for the Veganuary challenge in 2021 and of those people there were 125,000 from the UK (… this is up from 2017 when) … 50,000 participants had signed up as of 4 January”. Veganuary is now also going international with the US, Germany, Sweden and many other countries signing up (intriguingly, Texas claims to have had “the second highest number of US sign ups”). See below for details.

SO IS THE HISTORY OF VEGANISM THAT RECENT?

Veganism as a term dates back to 1944, according to the Vegan Society.  It was defined by Leslie J Cross initially as “[t]he principle of the emancipation of animals from exploitation by man” and later clarified  “to seek an end to the use of animals by man for food, commodities, work, hunting, vivisection, and by all other uses involving exploitation of animal life by man”.

But the spirit of veganism and vegetarianism go FAR FAR further back.  The UK Vegetarian Society dates back to Ramsgate in 1847.  And in turn Vegetarians date their history back at least as far as Pythagoras (yes, the same Greek who was a father of geometry was also an early advocate of avoiding animal products).

WHAT ABOUT VEGANUARY AND CHOCOLATE?

Most people think that the way to continue enjoying chocolate during Veganuary is to simply omit milk chocolate from their weekly shop.

But many supermarket “dark” chocolate bars, despite not having “milk” in their description, may not be suitable for vegans. 

For example, many cooking chocolates have “butterfat” to give them a rich mouthfeel – see this well known cooking bar label’s ingredients:

And the same is true of many other (non-cooking) mass-produced “dark chocolate” bars.  In the past, many dark chocolate bars were “filled out” with whey powder and other bulking agents (whey powder is a by-product of making cheese – and now used by bodybuilders and athletes). 

Because of these uses, whey powder is becoming more expensive, and many mass-produced confectionery makers are switching to using more vegetable fats and palm oils.  And at the same time Mars now has gone the full circle, using the same old whey powder to launch “Protein Enhancement” extensions to some old favourite brands

Bottom line: it’s another good reminder always to check the ingredients (and source of beans) of any chocolate bar

You also don’t have to stick solely to dark chocolate in Veganuary; there is such a thing as vegan milk chocolate too!  These chocolates are made with “vegan” milks like coconut milk or oat milk instead of cow, sheep, or goat milk, and are vegan-friendly.

IS THERE AN INCREASE IN THE AMOUNT OF VEGAN BARS AVAILABLE?

Yes – there are a host of great makers; all of our 100+ makers craft bars that are great for vegans. And then the likes of Marou in Vietnam, Raaka in the USA, Forevever Cacao, Solkiki, and Chocolate Tree based over here in the UK – they all do some great coconut milk bars.

So, if you’re struggling to keep those January Blues at bay, and would like to indulge in some sweet treats (without breaking you Veganuary pledge) see our vegan selection of chocolates!

Spencer, Simon, Lizzie, Harmony and James

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