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Can Vegans Eat Any Milk Chocolate?

Veganism, by definition, is the diet or movement in which a person does not consume animal products.

With the rise in veganism, one could only assume that a very popular question newly-vegans get asked is “what do you miss the most?”. You may be familiar with their answers usually lying along the lines of eggs, cheese and chocolate.

We too get often asked questions in the realms of the vegan diet, the biggest one being: “is your chocolate vegan?”

We revel in the delight that our dark chocolate bars are suitable for vegans, however we will admit that we have had the odd exception within our Library: Mucho’s Carmin bar with cochineal, or TCHO’s Mint Chip Gelato. With Mucho’s bar, it’s the natural Carmine dye that is sprayed onto the bar that has been derived from an insect in the suborder Sternorrhyncha of Mexico, and for TCHO it’s the milk in the freeze dried gelato…

Whilst dark chocolate is – or at least should be – inherently vegan, the question is actually a pretty valid one. Step into any supermarket or cornershop and you’ll probably be able to find a mass produced dark chocolate bar that actually has milk listed within its ingredients – take Lindt’s “Excellence Dark Touch of Sea Salt” or Morisson’s “85% Dark Chocolate” as examples. Whilst we truly believe that these ‘dark” bars that actively contain milk solids cannot really be called a dark chocolate – that is unfortunately the case for many mass-produced bars.

Luckily, vegans and those lactose intolerant – as conscious-consumers – do generally check the labels of their chocolate bars. And in doing so, they’ve probably figured out – with utmost delight – that they can eat nearly every single dark chocolate bar available to them if they wanted to. With that in mind, it has long been the notion that those wanting to avoid dairy and consume chocolate must adhere to the dark side of chocolate. Whilst this really isn’t a bad idea, especially if it’s single estate, small batch craft chocolate, we still love thrilling vegans with the news that eschewing milk chocolate needn’t be the case: there is such a thing as vegan milk chocolate!

Whilst some may be surprised or bemused to discover a milk chocolate bar suitable for vegans – it does only seem natural that chocolate might have eventually become subject to dairy alternatives. We often parallel the craft chocolate movement to the specialty coffee scene. And, if you take a look at coffee, you cannot walk into an indie coffee shop without seeing oat, soy or almond milk ingrained upon the menu board. It may even be frowned upon if such an alternative fails to exist.

Plant-based milks have exploded within the coffee scene over the last few years, and with the wonderful world of craft chocolate being several years behind speciality coffee – it’s great to see us catching up with milk alternatives in chocolate bars!

In our Cocoa Runners Chocolate Library we’ve had our fair share of ‘milk’ (often dubbed mylk) chocolate bars suitable for vegans. This has included bars previously crafted by Solkiki and Endorfin. We’ve now Forever Cacao’s 55% Coconut Milk chocolate and Marou’s 55% Ben Tre Coconut Milk bar available, and we are constantly on the lookout for more!

Forever Cacao’s 55% Coconut Milk is crafted by Pablo Spaull, who crafts his unroasted chocolate deep in the Welsh countryside. For all Pablo’s bars he uses Peruvian beans that, with the help of Ecotribal, he buys directly from Ashaninka co-operatives that live in the rainforest and on the banks of the Rio Ene.

The sweet and aromatic flavour of the coconut comes through giving the bar a refreshing floral note. The unroasted Peruvian cocoa beans have an earthy, grassy profile, that mixes with the much lighter sugared flavours of the coconut. Both rich and cooling, the chocolate bar finishes with an earthy sweetness. Forever Cacao has a very silky texture with a cooling mouthfeel.

Next up is Marou’s 55% Coconut Milk bar crafted in Vietnam using cacao harvested in the Ben Tre region. The flavour is distinctly coconut with a fudgy texture. We found this bar’s coconut milk beautifully complements the spicy and fruity flavour profile of the Ben Tre cacao. Expect an aromatic bouquet of raisins, coconut, honey and delicate spices.