Is Dark Chocolate Vegan? Here’s What’s Hiding in this Decadent Treat

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Is dark chocolate truly vegan? The answer isn't as straight forward as you might think. Here's what to look for before making a purchase and some of our favorite products and recipes.

Rich, deep, and just slightly bitter, there is no better afternoon pick-me-up than a square of dark chocolate. Or maybe you prefer a little decadence melted into your morning coffee or baked into a deliciously moist chocolatey cake.

Whatever your preference, knowing whether a food you are about to eat contains animal-sourced ingredients is something all vegans should consider. And when it comes to dark chocolate, your hesitance is justified.

Is Dark Chocolate Really Vegan?

Yes, dark chocolate is vegan. At least, in its purest form.

High-quality dark chocolate is made from cocoa or chocolate liquor, sugar, and cocoa butter. Many dark chocolate products also include an emulsifier like soy lecithin to help preserve the texture.

What they typically do not include is milk.

It’s Best to Double Check the Label

Of course, there are always exceptions to the rule.

Dark chocolate has become a bit of a health buzzword over the past decade and many companies try to capitalize on that by including it in marketing for their less-than-pure chocolate products. Brands like Hershey’s, Ghirardelli, and Dove all include milkfat in their dark chocolate snacks. 

For this reason, it is always best to double-check the label. Milkfat is the most common nonvegan ingredient, but you may also find plain milk and other dairy derivatives.  

Some flavored dark chocolate bars may also contain honey, which full-spectrum vegans avoid.

Some of the Best Vegan Dark Chocolate Brands

While reading the label is a good first step, you should be aware that not having animal-ingredients listed doesn’t mean the bar is completely milk free. In fact, one test done by the FDA found that 51 of 88 dark chocolate products they looked at contained milk even though it was not listed on the label.

If you are serious about your veganism, make sure you’re careful when shopping for your dark chocolate. To help get you started, here are a few of our favorite vegan chocolate bars.

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Hu Vegan Chocolate Bars

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Remember those three ingredients that make up the core of high-quality dark chocolate? That’s all you will find in the Hu Simple chocolate bar. Hu products are 100% vegan and, as an added bonus, use only unrefined coconut sugar. For the more adventurous, you can opt for a number of different vegan flavors including almond butter, mint, or raspberry jelly.

De Villiers Dark Chocolate Bar – Assorted Pack

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Another great buy for the adventurous is De Villiers Dark Chocolate Assorted Pack. These chocolates aren’t as pure as Hu, but they are completely vegan and only use unrefined brown sugar as a sweetener. And they come in great flavors like coffee, salted almond, and coconut.

Nib Mor Organic Dark Chocolate Snacking Bites

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Nib Mor offers an extreme 80% chocolately snack for those who really love their cocoa. While they are marketed as vegan, do be aware that they are processed in a facility that uses milk ingredients. But, they are organic and use only Rainforest Alliance certified sustainable cocoa. These nummy bites also come in multiple vegan flavors including peppermint, sea salt, and tart cherry.

Our Favorite Vegan Chocolate Recipes

Does all this talk of dark chocolate have you hankering for a bite of something delectable? Here are a few of our favorite vegan dark chocolate recipes to feed your cocoa craving.

Vegan Chocolate Covered Strawberries

Vegan Chocolate Covered Strawberries
Photo: Kirsten Nunez

This chocolate-covered strawberries recipe is absolutely necessary for celebrating Valentine’s Day with your chocolate-loving partner. They also make perfectly portable work deserts and great end of the day pick-me-ups. Best of all, they only require three simple, animal-friendly ingredients.

5-Ingredient Vegan Dark Chocolate Bars

Photo credit: Minimalist Baker

After reading through that FDA article outlining all the hidden dairy in “vegan” dark chocolate, you may be feeling a little skeptical of commercial products. Luckily, we have this super simple five-ingredient chocolate bar recipe from Minimalist Baker ready to fill the gap. 

3-Ingredient Vegan Dark Chocolate

Photo credit: Nutriholist

If you are anything like me in the kitchen, even five ingredients can feel overwhelming. For people like us, here is a great dark chocolate recipe from Nutriholist that requires only cocoa powder, cocoa butter, and maple syrup. It’s never been this easy to make your own super-pure dark chocolate at home.