Is dark chocolate vegan? Find out everything you need to know about vegan dark chocolate in this post!
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Is dark chocolate vegan? While it may be obvious to some that milk chocolate is NOT vegan (because it, well, contains milk – typically from a cow), dark chocolate can be a little more confusing.
In this post you’ll find out:
- Is dark chocolate vegan?
- How to know if your chocolate is vegan – which ingredients to be aware of
- What to look for in vegan dark chocolate – from a taste AND environmental standpoint
The quick answer to “is dark chocolate vegan” is that unless the chocolate is labeled “VEGAN” you have to read the ingredient label.
Some dark chocolates are vegan, some are not. Each manufacturer uses different ingredients in their chocolate, and some may add ingredients that are not vegan. This is where you need to know which ingredients to look for in dark chocolate that will make the chocolate NOT vegan friendly.
The quickest way to determine if a chocolate product is vegan:
Look for “allergens” on the label. Milk is a common allergen and the FDA (Food and Drug Administration in the U.S) REQUIRES that any allergens be clearly identified on product labels. There are two options for this allergen identification:
- The allergen will be identified in parentheses immediately following the name of the ingredient. Example: “whey (milk)”. OR
- The allergen will be identified immediately after or next to the list of ingredients in a “contains” statement. Example: “Contains eggs, and milk”
Ingredients to look for that make dark chocolate not vegan:
If dark chocolate contains any of the following ingredients, it is not vegan:
- Milk Solids
- Milk Powder
- Milk Fat
- Condensed milk
- Whey or Whey Powder
- White sugar* (see comment)
*Some white sugar is processed with bone char – this means that bones from cows are used as a filter to whiten sugar. While the sugar does not contain bone, since it is processed with an animal product, some vegans choose to avoid white sugar. Organic white sugar IS always vegan, however.
Also, you should be aware of toppings or mix-ins to chocolate that might not be vegan, such as caramel (which usually contains butter), honey. egg, or gelatine.
Of all the chocolates that are available – dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and white chocolate – dark chocolate IS the easiest to find with all vegan ingredients.
As the name says, milk chocolate typically contains milk in some form (making it not vegan), but the vegan milk chocolate market IS growing, and vegan milk chocolate (containing vegan milk products) is becoming easier to find.
White chocolate (which really isn’t chocolate at all because it does not contain any cocoa bean ingredients) is the hardest to find in vegan versions (at least in the U.S.), but like all the chocolates in this post can be found for purchase online or in specialty stores.
What do the percentages on dark chocolate packages mean?
The percentages found on dark chocolate packages indicate the amount of actual cacao or cocoa bean ingredients (including cocoa butter, chocolate liquor or cocoa solids) in the chocolate. So, for example, 70% dark chocolate means that 70% of the chocolate bar is made of the cocoa bean.
The remaining percentage indicates the amount of sugar and flavoring (such as vanilla, peppermint, etc). So an 85% dark chocolate bar would contain 85% cocoa bean and 15% sugar/flavoring. This is why the higher the percentage of cocoa bean, the more intense and bitter – and less sweet – the dark chocolate will taste.
Is dark chocolate healthier than milk or white chocolate?
Yes! Because dark chocolate contains so much of the cocoa bean, it has more phytonutrients (nutrients from a plant) and antioxidants than any other type of chocolate. It also has much less sugar than both milk and white chocolates.
Dark chocolate also contains nutrients, antioxidants, and flavonoids that have been shown to be protective against heart disease and cancer. And choosing 70% or higher dark chocolate is healthy for your brain, increasing memory and cognition, as well as reducing anxiety. Dark chocolate can even help reduce the risk of diabetes, by improving blood sugar levels. It really is a super food!
Popular Dark Chocolate brands – are they vegan?
Is Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate vegan? This chocolate contains milk fat. It is NOT vegan.
Is Dove Dark Chocolate – This chocolate contains milk fat. It is NOT vegan.
Is Ghirardelli Dark Chocolate vegan? – This chocolate has several dark chocolate varieties. ONLY the Ghirardelli 72% Cacao Twilight Delight Bar is vegan. All other varieties – including the darkest 92% percent chocolate – contain milk fat.
What to look for in dark chocolate
So now that you know how to determine if dark chocolate is vegan, is there anything else to consider when buying dark chocolate? Here are some suggestions:
- A CERTIFIED VEGAN label. Although not all chocolates that are vegan have this label, it is an easy way to know that you are buying a product free of animal products.
- A FAIR TRADE CERTIFIED label. This label ensures that the manufacturer puts people and the health of the planet first.
- ORGANIC labeling. Organic chocolate is free of pesticides, herbicides, and other harmful chemicals. And you are guaranteed that the sugar is organic AND therefore vegan.
Here are a few of my favorite vegan dark chocolate brands you might want to try!! (These brands are also relatively easy to find in the U.S., on Amazon, and at many Target and Whole Foods locations, grocery stores, and specialty stores).
Hu Dark Chocolate Bars – these come in a variety of flavor combinations (my favorite is Almond Butter!)
UNREAL Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups – Reese’s who?? Do you miss peanut butter cups? These are AMAZING.
Theo Organic Dark Chocolate – these also come in a variety of flavor combinations
Endangered Species Chocolate Bars – in addition to being vegan, this brand focuses on wildlife conservation.
I hope this post has been helpful and that you are now inspired to go have some vegan dark chocolate!
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