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Without a solid understanding of chocolate, it’s easy to assume that vegans can’t eat chocolate. But the truth tells a different story. As you will soon discover, chocolate is more versatile than you might think.
Whether you’re new to the vegan club or you’re just curious about what vegans eat, we’re sharing the real scoop on if vegans can eat chocolate.
Knowing the Difference
Chocolate, in all its various forms, comes down to three simple categories: Dark, Milk, and White chocolate. Let’s explore each in greater detail to help you better understand whether vegans can eat chocolate.
Vegan diet aside, if you had to choose one chocolate for its healthy composition, dark chocolate gets the win, hands down. The reasoning is simple: Dark chocolate is packed with antioxidants, possesses lower sugar content than any other form of chocolate, and contains absolutely zero dairy.
For many people, dark chocolate is an acquired taste. It’s not as smooth as milk or white chocolate, and it can be somewhat bitter. But is dark chocolate ever friendly to vegans! In fact, it’s the most pro-vegan chocolate you can buy.
Some people love it; others hate it. But there’s no denying that dark chocolate is ideal for anyone who wants a sweet treat without impacting their vegan lifestyle.
Milk chocolate is likely to be the most picked choice if you poll a bunch of random people about what their favorite type of chocolate is. The reasoning is quite easy to understand. You see, milk chocolate doesn’t contain the off-putting bitterness that you find in its dark chocolate kin.
What’s more, the sugar content is high, giving milk chocolate its sweet flavor. And as its name implies, milk chocolate is made with — you guessed it — milk. Of course, this automatically disqualifies it as being pro-vegan.
Now, with that said, you can find veganized versions of “milk” chocolate that forego the dairy ingredient in favor of vegan-friendly, plant-based milk. So be sure to keep your eyes peeled for such products if you absolutely must have milk chocolate. It might taste as good as the real deal, but there will be enough there to satisfy your milk chocolate cravings.
Although it’s technically called white “chocolate,” this variation actually contains no traces of cocoa solids whatsoever! As far as being vegan-friendly, it all depends on the brand and product. Some white chocolates are made using dairy, while others steer clear to bring you a vegan alternative.
To ensure that you don’t eat something that goes against your core beliefs, always check the labels of white chocolates before you buy. You can tell by reading the ingredients whether dairy was used.
So, Can Vegans Eat Chocolate?
Yes, but under certain conditions. First, dark chocolate is almost always going to be the de facto choice of chocolate for vegans. You may be able to enjoy milk and white variations, but only if the product is specifically designed with vegans in mind.
In such cases, the manufacturer will intentionally remove dairy in favor of plant-based dairy, thus allowing vegans to partake. Again, be sure to examine the label carefully to see whether the manufacturer uses real dairy before you buy.
On that note, it’s a good idea to get into the habit of checking dark chocolate labels, as well. Many dark chocolate products incorporate additional ingredients, such as toffee or caramel. If that’s the case, there’s a very good chance that milk is one of the ingredients.
You should also be on the lookout for additional clues that serve to reveal whether your chocolate bar is vegan or non-vegan. Sometimes, the ingredients will contain words like “whey,” “lactose,” or “casein.” If you happen across any one of these words, the chocolate in question contains dairy.
Furthermore, if you don’t immediately see any signs of animal products in the list of ingredients, direct your attention to any allergy statements. Manufacturers will add “contains milk” in this section if there is an ingredient that comes from dairy.
Still unsure? Check the nutritional facts on the label. Now find cholesterol. If the percentage listed is anything other than 0%, there are animal products in your chocolate. That’s because the only way to get cholesterol is to use animal products.
It’s also worth noting that if you see “cocoa butter” in the ingredients, you shouldn’t assume the chocolate is non-vegan. The fact of the matter is that cocoa butter on its own is completely dairy-free, and thus, vegan.
Cocoa butter actually comes from the cocoa bean’s fatty part and not anything related to dairy. Another pro tip is to opt for chocolates that have minimal ingredients — the fewer, the healthier.
Also, it’s good practice to examine the back of the label to determine whether the chocolate was made in a facility that uses equipment that processes animal products. There’s always the risk of your vegan-friendly chocolate coming into contact with non-vegan components.
Is Chocolate a Good Choice for Vegans?
Yes, with a couple of caveats. Dark chocolate is the healthiest of all chocolates and typically doesn’t contain any animal products. However, it pays to keep a close eye on how the dark chocolate was made to see if it contains additional ingredients, such as caramel.
Again, you may be able to freely enjoy milk chocolate and white chocolate, but you will need to make sure the manufacturer substituted milk for plant-based milk. If they did, give the label a once-over to rule out the possibility of animal product contact during production.
If you can verify that white or milk chocolate checks all of the appropriate boxes for being vegan-friendly, you can safely enjoy a wider variety of chocolate products.
If you’d like to learn more about which brands and products are safe for vegan diets, we invite you to head on over to our in-depth guides here. We take a look at everything from restaurants to ingredients to bring you a comprehensive list that details the vegan-friendly products in the world.