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Veganism

By Nick Saxby  ·  13th September 2021  ·  Veganism

Whether you’re attempting Veganuary or are one of the 1.5 million veteran vegans in the UK, you’ll be pleased to hear that chocolate is not completely off the table: Quite the opposite! Chocolate can be a bit of a milky minefield, so here is a handy guide on choosing the right bar.

Not Just for Vegans

It is estimated that a staggering 68% of the world’s population is unable to properly absorb lactose, a.k.a. milk sugar.

Whether you’re vegan, lactose-intolerant, allergic to dairy, or just craving a dairy-free tea-time snack, craft chocolate is your ally.

The Basics

Environmental Impact

How we feed ourselves has an undeniable impact on CO2 emissions; the dairy industry alone counts for 2% of total US greenhouse gas emissions. Choosing your chocolate carefully is one simple way to help fight climate change.

Animal Welfare

Certifications

When it comes to all things cocoa, unfortunately the vegan certification is not a very good indicator.

Firstly, not many bars have a certification. Secondly, just because a bar does, it doesn’t mean that it’s any good!

Likewise, many craft chocolate makers dedicated to creating amazing vegan chocolate alone do not have the certification. Among their number are crafters and full-time vegans Solkiki and Forever Cacao. So, how to choose?

Dark Chocolate

Firstly, dark chocolate should be vegan. The pure stuff should only ever be made from cocoa beans and sugar, with the optional addition of cocoa butter. Don’t be tricked; cocoa butter is the natural fat of the cocoa bean. Used to enhance the mouthfeel and texture of the final product, it’s completely plant-based. Phew!

Even so, animal products often sneakily slip into supermarket dark chocolate, most commonly under the guise of ‘whey powder’ or ‘butterfat’. Whey, a by-product of cheese, is used as a bulking agent; butterfat creates a rich mouthfeel.

But we’re having none of that. Indeed, the vast majority of dark chocolate in our chocolate library is vegan so have a browse. And the brilliant news is that milk chocolate is not off the books either.

Milk Chocolate

Supermarket milk chocolate may be a definite no-go area, but vegan milk chocolate (often dubbed mylk chocolate) exists and is delightful! It makes sense. Chocolate producers jumped on the milk alternatives bandwagon to create some fabulous bars, making the most from coconut milk’s natural creaminess. 

Over the years, we’ve had many a mylk bar suitable for vegans. These are among our current favourites. We’re constantly on the lookout for more.

White chocolate is a bit more tricky; milk in some form features among the three main ingredients, alongside sugar and cocoa butter. There is the occasional vegan white chocolate bar; but watch this space in the years to come…

Summary

It may be difficult ground but with a few pointers hopefully we can make vegan chocolate buying and savouring less puzzling:

  • Vegans and people with dairy allergy or lactose intolerance can still have chocolate! 
  • It’s just a question of taking a little extra time to check the ingredients. 
  • Dark chocolate should be vegan:
    • Supermarket dark chocolate sometimes has dairy-based fillers.
  • Stay away from any chocolate, even dark, that has ‘whey’, ‘milk powder’, ‘butterfat’ hidden on it’s ingredient list, or that has ‘milk’ as an allergen.
  • With a tiny number of exceptions, dark chocolate from craft makers is normally vegan.
  • Milk chocolate is not off the table. 
  • …and neither is white chocolate.

Finally, if we stock the bar, don’t hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions, ingredient-related or otherwise.

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