Is Chocolate Vegetarian Friendly?

Cocoa beans on a brown chopping board

By its very nature, chocolate comes from a plant – the Theobroma tree and in its purest form is vegetarian and even vegan. It is through the additions of other ingredients during the processing of the cocoa bean into chocolate which can make it unacceptable to those on a vegan or a dairy-free diet. The good news is chocolate is considered vegetarian and many dark chocolates are considered vegan.

We’ve ensured our Oat M!lk collection and all of our dark chocolate is registered with the Vegan Society. This means all of our ingredients are carefully scrutinised to ensure they meet the requirements set by the Vegan Society before we are given permission to carry the widely recognised mark, giving you assurance that it is indeed suitable for a vegan diet. Many dark chocolates which don’t expressly state they are vegan are in fact so, simply due to the natural ingredients used in their production. 

Vegan chocolate bars

Chocolate in its purest form is made up of cocoa mass (beans), cocoa butter, sugar and more often than not soya lecithin and vanilla. These ingredients are found in differing amounts depending on the recipe of the chocolate producer. Let’s start by looking at the simplicity of the ingredients found in a good quality chocolate to see how they are vegetarian.

Cocoa mass: cocoa mass is 100% pure cocoa, made from the roasted beans, ground into a smooth and homogeneous liquor which is where the flavour profile of the chocolate comes from. When you look at the ingredients listing on the back of a bar, it will say cocoa solids X% minimum – this number is the cocoa mass and the cocoa butter added together. 

Cocoa butter: Pure cocoa butter is pressed or squeezed from whole roasted cocoa beans – in mainstream chocolate brands the butter is deodorised of both colour and taste, so it’s neutral and neither adds nor detracts from the taste of the chocolate. With our delicious, fine flavour Colombian chocolate, the cocoa butter is not deodorised, so the natural flavour remains in the butter, enhancing the exquisite notes of the chocolate beans in the finished chocolate. 

Sugar: Sugars come in many forms and flavours and whilst processed sugar is the norm in most mainstream chocolates there are more alternatives being introduced including coconut sugar, panella sugar, maple syrup and stevia sweeteners. Sugars are not necessarily vegan friendly, as some are refined using a process called bone char, where sugar is filtered to remove anything which would stop the sugar looking so white. Fortunately, there are other processing methods available, and the sugar used in our chocolate is pressed from the sugar cane grown in our country of origin, Colombia and is processed without the use of bone char filtering.

Soya lecithin: Soy lecithin is the by product from the processing of soya bean oil, and is widely used as an ingredient in chocolate to improve its viscosity. Added in tiny amounts, it gives the chocolate a more workable consistency, making it easier to temper and mould the liquid chocolate into the finished bars. The word lecithin is derived from the Greek term lekythos meaning egg yolk and is considered vegan friendly. You can find out more here

Vanilla: Vanilla is grown within 10-20 degrees of the equator. Most vanilla beans are grown in Madagascar, Mexico and Tahiti and in smaller amounts, Uganda. Part of the orchid family, the Vanilla is an attractive climbing creeper, grown in the damp undergrowth of tropical rainforests. As with chocolate, coffee and wine the flavours of the vanilla depends on where it is grown, due to the climates, soils, types of plant and the curing methods used – the vanilla is chosen to make sure it enhances the natural flavours of the cocoa beans. 

Raspberry gin chocolate wrapper

Chocolate Percentages

The percentage found on an ingredient list on a bar of chocolate relates to the overall amount of cocoa mass and cocoa butter combined within the chocolate, with the other ingredients – sugar, vanilla, soya lecithin and in the case of milk and white chocolates ,milk, making up the remainder of the 100%. So, our Classic 60% Dark Chocolate has a combined amount of cocoa mass and the cocoa butter amounting to 60% of the total ingredients with the remaining 40% being the sugar, soya lecithin and vanilla. This is the same principle for our Classic Milk Chocolate, just different percentages. White chocolate contains no cocoa mass (beans) and is simply cocoa butter, milk, sugars, soya lecithin and vanilla or similar. You can explore a selection of our milk, white and dark chocolates with our choose your own gift hamper.

So the answer to the question ‘Is chocolate suitable for a vegetarian diet?’ – yes! All of our delicious Choc Affair products are vegetarian, and our Oat M!lk and dark chocolate is vegan registered and suitable for those on a vegan or plant-based diet.

About Linda

Linda is the founder of Choc Affair, with a passion for creating wonderfully delicious chocolates, that are ethically made.

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