Everything You Should Know About Vegan Chocolate

Chocolate, a beloved food across countless cultures and centuries, has an intriguing history. Chocolate certainly holds a special place in our hearts, from the Aztecs and Mayans, who revered cacao as a divine beverage consumed during sacred rituals, to its modern-day adoration worldwide. Now, imagine enjoying this delectable treat without worrying about any dairy products—yes, it’s possible! Explore everything you should know about vegan chocolate in the guide below. 

What Is Vegan Chocolate?

Although chocolate comes from cocoa beans, which are a plant, it doesn’t mean all chocolate is plant-based. Creating specific flavours, such as milk chocolate, requires the inclusion of dairy products, such as milk, to create that familiar creamy texture. However, options such as pure dark chocolate don’t typically require the direct inclusion of milk. 

During the creation of vegan chocolate, chocolate makers avoid the direct inclusion of animal products. Vegan chocolate producers must substitute animal milk with a non-dairy product such as almond, coconut, or soy milk if they are selling vegan-certified “milk” chocolate. 

Vegan Chocolate Isn’t Always Plant-Based

While cocoa is plant-based, a chocolate bar usually isn’t—especially if it contains non-plant ingredients, such as salt.

How Is Vegan Chocolate Made?

Vegan chocolate-makers make their chocolate like traditional chocolate-makers but with a few key differences. They start with cocoa beans, which farmers must harvest, ferment, dry, and roast. After roasting the beans, they must crack them open to extract the cocoa nibs, which they grind into a thick paste known as cocoa mass (or chocolate liquor).

Chocolate makers then separate the cocoa mass into cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Each product is plant-based since cocoa is a fruit. 

Instead of adding dairy milk at this stage, as traditional chocolate-makers would when making traditional milk chocolate, vegan chocolate-makers add plant-based milk and sweeteners like cane sugar or maple syrup to create the final product. Keep in mind that this step only occurs in vegan-certified milk chocolate; dark chocolate—vegan or not—doesn’t usually require the addition of milk. 

Vegan-Friendly Vs. Vegan-Certified Chocolate

Another crucial thing you need to know about vegan chocolate is that vegan-friendly and vegan-certified chocolate are not the same thing.

Vegan-certified chocolate is third-party certified to not contain any animal products or traces of them at all. This means vegan chocolate makers use separate machinery or a separate factory to prevent cross-contamination. 

Many chocolate companies label their goods as “vegan-friendly,” meaning manufacturers did not directly add milk or other animal products during the manufacturing. However, traces of milk protein could be in the chocolate because most companies process vegan and non-vegan chocolate in the same facility using the same machinery. Even with the best cleaning and protocols, cross-contamination is still possible because the equipment is shared.

Defining Vegan-Friendly Chocolate

How could dark chocolate possibly contain milk if the makers don’t directly add it? As previously mentioned, cross-contamination of ingredients, such as milk, during the production of milk and dark chocolate can occur. Some manufacturers use the same equipment for vegan-friendly and non-vegan chocolate. Cleaning machines can help reduce the amount of milk protein on their equipment but doing so doesn’t eliminate it totally.

Despite all precautions, a company cannot label its product as “dairy-free” if manufacturers make it in the same factory as products that include dairy. Keep in mind that this doesn’t mean that chocolate labeled as “vegan-friendly” intentionally contains milk—there may only be trace amounts. Legally, companies are required to include the statement "contains milk" as an ingredient on their labels because those very minimal amounts exist, and individuals with allergies must know.

Why The Difference Matters

As consumers, we like to know what constitutes the foods we eat. We want to know what each ingredient is, especially when it comes to chocolate. Due to federal regulations, companies cannot label a vegan-friendly product as “dairy-free” since there may be minimal traces of animal products in it due to the manufacturing process. This information is crucial to individuals who adhere to a vegan diet and those with dairy allergies. 

Shop at Cococo

At Cococo, our vegan-friendly chocolate labels now list milk as an ingredient—rather than “may contain milk”—this does not mean we intentionally added milk. Rather, our manufacturer changed the way they label products for food safety reasons. Our vegan chocolate may have traces of milk because our manufacturer produces them in a factory with chocolates that do contain milk.

Purchase Sustainable Vegan-Friendly Chocolate

Some of us adopt a vegan lifestyle because it’s healthier for the planet. Simply buying vegan chocolate doesn’t mean that manufacturers followed ethical practices when growing and harvesting the cocoa or creating the chocolate.

As you shop for vegan chocolate, search for certifications such as Fair trade or Rainforest Alliance Certified™ on chocolate packaging. Fair trade implies that cocoa farmers are paid a fair wage for their hard work. Rainforest Alliance certification indicates that the manufacturer uses ethical practices in cocoa sourcing while also promoting fair trade practices and environmental sustainability.

Vegan Chocolate Tastes Amazing

Don’t worry about vegan chocolate not living up to the taste of your favourite chocolate bar. Vegan chocolate can be just as creamy, rich, and delicious as traditional chocolate. And with a variety of flavours available, from classic dark chocolate to innovative blends like raspberry or mint, there’s vegan chocolate for every palate.

Likewise, you can buy vegan-friendly products such as:

  • Chocolate sauce
  • Cocoa powder
  • Chocolate drops
  • Chocolate bars

These ingredients are must-haves when you create chocolate desserts, such as vegan-friendly hot cocoa or truffles. With top-quality chocolate, your desserts will be just as decadent and satisfying as those made with traditional chocolate.

Benefits of Chocolate

Eating dark chocolate in general—vegan or not—comes with many benefits due to the higher levels of cocoa solids. One of the many health benefits of dark chocolate include its richness in antioxidants. Moreover, eating tasty foods makes us happy and nothing tops the powerful flavours of dark chocolate!

Buy Vegan-Friendly Chocolate

Cococo has the best chocolate selection for you if you live a vegan-friendly lifestyle! Our products are fairly traded and made with Rainforest Alliance Certified™ cocoa and cocoa butter. Plus, we have delicious vegan-friendly options, such as dark chocolate-covered coffee beans, dark chocolate pretzels, and chocolate bars. 

That about wraps it up for our guide on everything you should know about vegan chocolate! Want to buy the best vegan-friendly chocolates to enjoy or bake with? Cococo has many recipes for mouth-watering desserts you can bake using our products. Satisfy your sweet tooth with couverture chocolate!

Everything You Should Know About Vegan Chocolate