The Great Chocolate Debate: Is Chocolate Vegan?

  • Evidence based
  • Fact checked
A close up of vegan chocolate placed on a surface with the leaves of mint nearby.

is chocolate vegan | Understanding vegan chocolate | Buying tips | vegan chocolates

Chocolate is a much-loved food all over the world. It is made from the beans of the cocoa tree, which grows in hot, humid climates near the equator. 

The Mayans [1]ResearchGate: The history and science of chocolate first used cacao beans to make a bitter drink reserved for ceremonial consumption. The Europeans tempered the bitterness of cocoa by adding sugar and milk, creating the chocolate that we know and love today.

Is chocolate vegan?

Chocolate is vegan only if it is produced without the addition of dairy products such as cream, butter, milk, or milk solids.

The primary ingredients of chocolate: cocoa powder and cocoa butter, are indeed vegan. But most chocolates are made by adding milk and milk solids which makes them non-vegan.

Nevertheless, there are a growing number of companies making vegan dark chocolate, vegan milk chocolate, and even vegan white chocolate.

Is dark chocolate vegan?

Unsweetened dark chocolate is usually vegan since its primary ingredients are cocoa butter and cocoa powder. 

However, many commercial chocolates contain milk, milk fat, milk solids, and sugar (which is often processed using bone char). So one must check the labels carefully even when buying dark chocolate. 

Is milk chocolate vegan?

As the name suggests, milk chocolate contains milk, usually in the form of milk powder or condensed milk. 

So if you want to buy vegan milk chocolate, look for brands that use plant-based milk, such as almond milk or coconut milk.

Is white chocolate vegan?

White chocolate is made with cocoa butter, milk, and sugar. So it is not vegan. But a few brands make vegan white chocolate using plant-based ingredients. 

What exactly is vegan chocolate?

Vegan chocolates do not contain any ingredients that come from animals. This includes milk, honey, lecithin, and gelatin. Instead, vegan chocolate is manufactured using a variety of plant-based ingredients.

Companies that manufacture vegan chocolate bars and other vegan chocolate products use alternatives to milk (almond milk, coconut milk, and soy milk). 

Let us understand the difference between vegan and non-vegan chocolate.

Understanding vegan vs. non-vegan chocolate

Non-vegan chocolate is normal chocolates that typically contain milk and milk solids, white sugar, and animal-sourced emulsifiers. 

But, it is not just milk that makes chocolate non-vegan. Other ingredients that can make a chocolate non-vegan include casein, whey, and honey. Animal-sourced emulsifiers are also added to common non-vegan chocolates. These include lecithin and monoglycerides (which may be derived from animal fats).

Vegan chocolate, on the other hand, is made without any animal products, including milk and milk solids, and the other animal-sourced products mentioned above. Generally speaking, most kinds of dark chocolate are naturally vegan.

Vegan milk chocolates are typically made with non-dairy milk, such as oat milk, rice milk, almond milk, or soy milk. 

Vegan chocolate may also include plant-based emulsifiers like soy lecithin and vegan sweeteners like maple syrup.

Tips to identify vegan chocolate

How can you tell if the chocolate you are about to buy is vegan? Here are some tips: 

1. Look for “Vegan,” “Dairy-Free,” or “Animal-Free” on the label

One of the easiest ways to tell if a chocolate is vegan is to look for labels that say “vegan,” “dairy-free,” or “animal-free.”  If you see one of these labels, you can be sure that the chocolate is vegan.

2. Look for a certification logo

A lot of vegan chocolates will be certified by organizations such as Vegan Action [2]Vegan Certification: What is the Certified Vegan Logo? or the American Vegan Society.  The certification marks are usually prominently displayed on the packaging. 

3. Check the ingredients list

Even if a chocolate doesn’t have a label that says it’s vegan, you can still check the ingredients list to see if it’s vegan. Milk, milk solids, animal-based emulsifiers, gelatin, and honey are non-vegan ingredients you’ll want to look out for and avoid.

4. Call the company

If you’re still not sure whether the chocolate you want to buy is vegan, your best bet is to call the company and ask. They should be able to tell you definitively whether their product meets your dietary needs.

Best vegan chocolate brands

With the boom in the popularity of veganism as a lifestyle and a dietary choice, there are now more vegan chocolate options available than ever before. Here are 7 of the best chocolate brands making delicious vegan chocolate:

1. Alter Eco

Alter Eco was founded with the mission of supporting small-scale farmers and promoting sustainable agriculture. Their chocolate is organic, Fair Trade certified, and gluten-free. Plus, it comes in some delicious flavor combinations like salted almond, dark sea salt, and burnt caramel.

2. Hershey’s Oat Made

Did you know that Hershey’s now has a vegan line of chocolates? Their Oat Made chocolate bars are made with oat milk and come in two delicious flavors: Classic Dark; and Extra Creamy Almond and Sea Salt.

3. Lindt Vegan Chocolate

Lindt is best known for its luxury Swiss chocolates, but they also have a range of vegan chocolates.

Their vegan-friendly chocolate bars come in three delectable flavors: Vegan Smooth, Vegan Hazelnut, and Vegan Caramel Sea Salt. Their range of dark chocolates also consists of some vegan-friendly options.

4. Beyond Good

Beyond Good is a Brooklyn-based company that makes vegan dark chocolates. They produce sustainably sourced, single-origin chocolates that make for a delightful and guilt-free treat.

5. Evolved Chocolate

Evolved Chocolate is made with Rainforest Alliance-certified [3]Rainforest Alliance: What Does “Rainforest Alliance Certified” Mean? cocoa and responsibly sourced organic ingredients. Even their non-vegan chocolates contain grass-fed, pasture-raised collagen proteins. They have a line of seven delicious flavors to choose from.

6. Raaka

Raaka is yet another Brooklyn-based company that makes bean-to-bar chocolates using only Fair Trade-certified cocoa beans. Their line of chocolates comes in both milk and dark varieties-with flavor combinations like pink sea salt and coconut sugar and bourbon cask aged.

7. VGAN Chocolate

VGAN Chocolate bars are not just vegan, they are also gluten-free, soy-free, cruelty-free, and kosher. These chocolate bars come in five unique and exciting flavors.


Whether or not chocolate is vegan depends on how it’s made. Many companies make dairy-free versions of chocolates using plant-based milk like almond milk and coconut milk. 

Turning vegan does not mean giving up on chocolate treats forever. You just have to make an effort to find the right chocolate brands and products.

Similar Posts