Yes – Dark chocolate is a naturally vegan food product.
Perhaps you’re new to the vegan lifestyle and have been wondering if chocolate is suitable to eat on a vegan diet.
For the very most part, dark chocolate is vegan. However, when you find ingredients like milk fat or whey on the ingredients list, you can be assured the chocolate is not vegan friendly.
Without further ado, let’s just get into it!
What is Dark Chocolate?
Theobroma cacao plant, also known as the “food of the Gods,” is a cacao tree native to West Africa and to tropical climates, and is where dark chocolate comes from.
Around since 1900 B.C, cacao has been used for ceremonious and medicinal purposes by the indigenous of Central and South America.
The Spanish later brought an updated version of the recipe with added sugar and honey back to Europe. Milk wuold later be added to make for a creamy and milky hot chocolate drink, which is a beverage enjoyed by many all over the world still to this day.
The average European consumes about 25 pounds of chocolate per year. That’s a bit over two pounds of chocolate per month.
How is Dark Chocolate Processed?
First, cacao beans ripen on the cocoa tree, which takes about 5 months after the plant flowers.
Once fully ripened, the beans reach a golden orange or red color, and are then ready to be harvested – which is done by hand. These are broken open so the beans can be removed from the hull and go through a fermentation process, which allows the beans to release their full flavor profile.
Afterward, the beans are roasted and then ground up in to chocolate powder. From here the powder is used to make chocolate – the rest depends on the recipe choice, but it’s usually a mix of sweetener and cocoa butter.
Potential Non-Vegan Dark Chocolate Ingredients
When identifying vegan dark chocolate, there are some ingredients to be on the lookout for that may not be 100% vegan.
White sugar that’s not organic is more often than not processed with bone char (ground-up animal bones), which some vegans may not agree with. This is done for a whiter sugar color. Even though these animal byproducts do not end up in the final product, the fact that it’s been in contact with animals is enough for certain vegans to opt out of consuming this ingredient.
If you see dairy products such as whey, milk fat, milk powder, casein, or milk solids, know that any of these ingredients makes chocolate non-vegan.
It’s always a good idea to check the label to be extra certain that no dairy products have been snuck into the chocolate, especially if you’re allergic.
Ethical and Moral Concerns about Dark Chocolate
Dark chocolate may be widely consumed, but unfortunately, its harvest and production also has a dark side.
Depending on the origin of your chocolate, there is a high likelihood that slave labor was involved in the production process. Child labor is most prominent on cocoa farms located in West Africa, where young children are forced to work and are promised pay that they, in the end, do not receive. They are forced to work in inhumane working conditions which often involves the use of machetes, which isn’t exactly the safest working tool for young humans.
Many families are struck with poverty in Africa, and children have no choice but to work to help support their loved ones.
Fair trade is the way to go if you want to ensure that there is no child labour going on. Remember – every dollar you spend goes toward supporting business practices. So, if you smell a whiff of any immoral or cruel labor conditions, be mindful of how you vote with your dollar.
How do Milk Chocolate and Dark Chocolate Differ?
Dark chocolate doesn’t tend to have any milk solids in, unlike milk.
Dark chocolate also contains a higher amount of cacao, which gives it a deeper and more complex, chocolatey flavor. This does give it some bitterness, but that’s one reason why some people like it.
The difference between dark and milk chocolate is the dairy ingredient.
Vegan Dark Chocolate Brands
There are many different companies that offer delicious dark chocolate, but not all of them are vegan. Below are some surefire vegan ones, with different styles of chocolate ranging from bars to chips to chocolates.
Lindt Excellence Dark Chocolate Bar
Lindt offers many different dark chocolate vegan bars, but only two of them are vegan – the 85% and 99% Lindt Excellence bars.
This is one of those chocolate bars that has a bold and rich chocolate flavor.
This brand has created rich, bold flavored chocolate bars with different percentages of cacao, ranging from 70 % – 95% cacao content.
The percentage refers to the weight of the cacao mass versus the weight relative to that of the other ingredients.
The ingredients in the Lindt bar with 90% cacao are cocoa mass, cocoa butter, low fat cocoa powder, sugar, and vanilla.
If you’re someone that prefers their chocolate to be a bit on the sweeter side, it’s best to opt for a vegan chocolate bar with a lower cacao percentage. And vice versa, if you like it more bitter.
Do note – if you are a stricter vegan, the sugar in this recipe could be a cause for concern, as it’s not organic and is therefore likely to not be considered vegan.
Note that dark chocolate with high cacao percentages are most often times vegan.
Get Back to Human
This dark chocolate vegan is filled with almond butter and puffed quinoa in the middle, and deliciously so!
One of the vegan chocolate brands with a mid-range cacao percentage, this brand offers this particular bar with a 70% organic stoneground cacao content.
This dark chocolate vegan is organic and fair trade cacao, so your dollars will go toward supporting sustainable business practices and your purchase may save a child from slavery.
This brand doesn’t have any gluten, dairy, emulsifiers, refined sugar or sugar alcohols (just unrefined organic coconut sugar) in the recipe – so, it’s as vegan as vegan can be.
If you want to buy vegan chocolate, you can’t go wrong with this one.
And, if the almond butter and quinoa does’t spark your interest so much – consider the vanilla crunch, hazelnut, or cashew butter flavors.
Endangered Species Dark Chocolate Bars
If you’re in search of good quality dark chocolate, this is a great option.
You could split one of these bars into a few chunks and enjoy some homemade s’mores, if you’re looking for a new activity to do with your family any time of year.
This brands offers many unique flavor options like oat milk and mixed berries, cranberries and almonds, and strong velvety dark chocolate, along with many others. You can check out their website for more info.
Whole Foods Brand Chocolate Chips
You can use these for baking or to add to a trail mix, or just snack on them when you’re in a chocolate-y mood.
These would also taste delightful mixed into a spoonful of peanut butter for a sweet protein dose.
Nib More Chocolates
These plant-based and snack-size, crunchy chocolates are gluten free, non-GMO, fair trade certified, and guaranteed to satisfy you chocolate loving vegans out there.
The organic dark chocolate flavor ingredients in these chocolate treats are organic chocolate liquor, organic cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic cacao nibs, organic soy lecithin and organic vanilla extract.
This is 72% cacao content dark chocolate that’s Rainforest Alliance certified, which means it’s a socially, agriculturally and economically sustainable food. A surefire way to know if a product is certified in this way is to to check for a logo of a green tree frog on the packaging.
These have less than 3 grams of sugar per square of chocolate, so even if you’re avoiding overconsumption of sugar, it still wouldn’t hurt if you had more than one.
These also come in dark chocolate mind, mint, blueberry, and chocolate sea salt flavors, and the company also offers hot chocolate if you’re more into drinking your chocolate.
Non-Vegan Dark Chocolate
Ghiradelli Dark Chocolate Bites
Ghiradelli dark chocolate offers a bold-tasting dark chocolate that will not disappoint your buds of taste.
Except, well..unless you’re vegan.
This is an option that isn’t 100% vegan friendly as it has milk derivatives in the recipe.
The ingredients in this brand’s dark chocolate are unsweetened chocolate, cocoa butter, sugar, milk fat, soy lecithin.
This company has different non vegan kinds of chocolate with varying cacao percentages, too, if you prefer a particular one.
So, not all dark chocolates are vegan, and this is an example of one of them that’s not.
Dark Chocolate Health Benefits
This is a snack that’s full of antioxidants, so much so that dark chocolate is considered a superfood.
The cacao bean actually has one the highest concentrations of antioxidants out of most foods in the entire world, and contains more per serving than both green tea and red wine.
Chocolate is a stress relief, boosts brain function, and prevents cancer with its natural flavonoid content by attacking free radicals in the body.
It also aids against memory loss, and reduces overall diabetes risk by improving how the body processes glucose.
A chemical thats structurally similar to THC, anandamide provides a mood and energy boost, if you find yourself needing something extra to optimally function.
Theobromine reduces inflammation and lowers blood pressure, too. In other words, if you have heart troubles of any sort, eating chocolate certainly wouldn’t be a bad thing.
The higher the cacao percentage of our chocolate, the lower the sugar content will be. So, generally speaking, the higher the percentage, the healthier the chocolate.
Dark chocolate also has naturally occurring minerals like magnesium, calcium, riboflavin, phosphorus, copper, zinc, manganese, and niacin.
You chocolate lovers out there don’t have to feel guilty if you don’t want to.
Whether you opt for Lindt dark chocolate vegan, or an Endangered Species bar, you just can’t go wrong with chocolate, whether you’re on a vegan diet or not.
If you have been wondering if vegans eat chocolate, they sure do.
There you have it – chocolate is vegan. We’d tell you to keep the secret – but the whole world already knows.
And lastly, if dark chocolate just isn’t your thing, you might consider cacao powder.