The Ultimate Guide to Vegan Chocolate
There are so many different vegan chocolate brands, but which are the best?
By Megan d’Ardenne
With more and more people following a vegan diet and others finding out that they’re lactose intolerant, I’ve made it my mission to find the best dairy-free chocolate to keep those sweet cravings at bay.
There are two types of vegan chocolate: dark chocolate that naturally has no animal-derived products (anything that has a coco percentage between 65-100 per cent is most likely vegan, but always check the label), and chocolate made with alternative dairy-free milks.
Chocolate which replaces dairy generally has a creamy and smooth flavour, meaning that vegans can enjoy a ‘milk’ chocolate. In my opinion, some of these bars are almost identical to their dairy-rich counterparts, and I’ve done all the hard work of finding the UK’s best vegan chocolate bars (well, someone had to do it…).
Aside from tasting spectacular, Raw Halo is on a mission to create chocolate that is made entirely from ethically-sourced ingredients.
The rich single-origin raw cacao beans are from the Criollo trees of small farms in Peru. These beans aren’t roasted like normal chocolate to make sure all the nutrients are retained – antioxidants, magnesium and iron.
To keep their bars in a raw state Raw Halo only minimally heats their chocolate to temperatures of less than 42 degrees, this helps to reduce any damage to the nutrients and antioxidants contained within the cacao.
All of the bars are stone ground for a much smoother texture which means that the chocolate melts in your mouth perfectly.
The Mylk and Salted Caramel bar is a truly indulgent treat and is flavoured with vegan caramel, and pink Himalayan salt and made deliciously smooth with creamed coconut
All Raw Halo’s bars are also free of refined sugar, meaning even those who are on a diet can enjoy the indulgence.
In partnership with One Tree Planted, Raw Halo has pledged to plant one tree for every fifty bars they sell. Their packaging is also 100 per cent plastic-free, sustainable and recyclable.
Doisy and Dam
When it comes to the ingredients in their chocolate, Doisy and Dam have two rules: as few as possible and the best possible. Doisy and Dam’s mantra is essentially less is more, so that means no additives, no e-numbers, no palm oil; just natural, ethical sources of chocolatey scrumptiousness.
The cocoa used across their product range is sourced from Colombia, which is famed for its rich, nutty flavour.
Doisy and Dam strive for complete transparency within their supply chain, from bean to bar, to ensure the cocoa farmers are fairly paid.
Doisy and Dam’s Chocolate ‘Ballers’ are little drops of joy; the inner golden malty ball is decently encased in velvety dark chocolate.
The share bags are perfect for sharing or tucking into when you only fancy a bite or two at a time (although I bet you’ll struggle to stop at just one)!
For Christmas, Doisy and Dam have released ‘Jingle Ballers’ which are infused with zesty orange for a festive treat.
Montezuma’s primary aim is to make extraordinary chocolate from the finest organic ingredients. All of the ingredients used in their chocolate must match or exceed their strict quality expectations and business ethics. They call this ‘Trading Fairly’.
Their sourcing policy is founded on the principle of buying the best quality cocoa beans from growers who are committed to a long-term sustainable future. As a result, Montezuma pay a premium to the cocoa farmers in order to invest in education for both the farmer’s and local children. T
Montezuma’s is currently in the process of seeking B-Corp accreditation which requires full transparency on the environmental impact and we have set ourselves a target of being carbon neutral by 2025.
Not only are their ‘Like No Udder’ bars wonderfully smooth and creamy, but they are as high in cocoa as their regular milk chocolate but made without milk.
In fact, they are Like No Udder (pun intended)! Currently there are two flavours in their vegan friendly milk alternative range – regular and orange, which is infused with natural orange oil for a delicious, zesty tang.
Since its humble beginnings, The Booja-Booja Company has won more than 100 awards for taste and deliciousness from the Academy of Chocolate, to the Guild of Fine Food, Great Taste and numerous organic and free from accolades.
Their chocolate truffles which are jam-packed full of amazing organic ingredients that are made with pure, simple organic ingredients and contain no palm oil, nor any artificial additives, preservatives, emulsifiers, acidity regulators or stabilisers, which is which is what makes them so exquisitely melt-in-the-mouth.
Their chocolate truffle collection consists of eight different varieties, including the super luxurious hazelnut crunch, stem ginger and rhubarb vanilla fools which are mouth-wateringly tangy, whilst still being slightly sweet.
All of Booja-Booja’s flavour combinations are perfectly balance and cut through the bitter dark chocolate truffle beautifully.
The raw chocolate used in Booja-Booja’s truffles is made family-owned Pacari Chocolate in Ecuador. Pacari Chocolate is built on strong socially and environmentally sustainable principles, and only works with small-scale cacao farmers, supporting their sustainable farming methods and paying them a premium above the market rate.
Small-scale farming protects the genetic diversity of Ecuadorian cacao, as unlike plantation production it allows for cross pollination which strengthens the cacao trees and makes them less susceptible to plague and disease.
Booja-Booja and Pacari have been working together for more than a decade, learning to understand each other’s principles and discovering a shared passion for quality, sustainability and fairness
Sustainability is an important part of Buttermilk’s ethos and this governs all aspects of their production – from biodiversity to worker’s rights to their packaging. Their new vegan range is divine!
All of Buttermilk’s delicious chocolate treats come packaged in cellulose packaging which is not only plastic free, but totally compostable.
Buttermilk also ensure that they source their key ingredients in the most sustainable way possible, and have opted to buy all their cocoa from a farmer’s union. This means that the farmers determine their rate of chocolate, which ensures they are paid a fair price.
Buttermilk’s Salted Caramel Cups are wonderfully moreish, gooey, velvety cups of goodness, and are a perfect chocolatey treat for any occasion.
NOMO (a clever acronym for “no missing out”) state that the recipes they use in the creation of their chocolate took then years to perfect and I can easily see why.
Their Caramel and Sea Salt Choc Bar is an incredibly creamy luxurious chocolate, and the caramel flavour with a pinch of sea salt is the perfect blend of sweet and tangy.
Their chocolates are also suitable for those on a ‘free from’ diet and are okay for those with milk allergies, gluten intolerance, coeliacs and those with nut allergies.
Nomo use Rainforest Alliance Certified™ Cocoa in their products, and use the “mass balance” model of production which allow them to buy more cocoa from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms, which means that farmers, the environment, and cocoa-growing communities benefit.
Ombar has a multitude of raw, organic, gluten-free and vegan chocolate bars but its coconut and vanilla variety is my top pick of the range.
The high concentration of creamed coconut makes this bar indulgently creamy and while the use of raw cacao also brings added health benefits.
Ombar Coco Mylk is not only a silky smooth, caramel tasting vegan milk chocolate – it’s also a superfood as it contains bio live cultures!
Coconut cream infused with cocoa butter, coconut sugar and vanilla pods gives this chocolate a deliciously creamy taste.
Meanwhile, its inclusion of lactobacillus acidophilus, a probiotic live culture, promotes good gut health, working to improve or restore gut flora. A treat and a health boost? Awesome!
Seed and Bean
Accredited as one of the most ethical chocolate producer in Britain Seed and Bean pride themselves on making delicious, organic, fairtrade, ethical slabs of cocoa goodness.
Although they are not a vegan brand, all their dark chocolate bars are vegan, and their flavours are nothing short of inventive.
The lemon and cardamom variety, which is made using sweet Italian lemon oil and a hint of Sri Lankan ground cardamom, offers the perfect combination of citrus and spice.
Each individual Seed and Bean wrapper is fully compostable. Not only is the outer paper layer recyclable, our inner foil is made from Natureflex™, a specially sourced, flexible cellulose film which is made from eucalyptus wood pulp! This can simply be disposed of in your home compost bin.
It’s great to see a mainstream chocolate brand has thrown its hat into the vegan ring; so there so that when Galaxy launched its vegan offerings in 2019 they were sold out across many supermarkets in the UK.
There’s no denying that their plant based bars are seriously good chocolate. Galaxy have captured the smoothness and velvety taste you’d expect from their normal milk chocolate bars.
The only downside to this one is that despite being accredited by the Vegan Society, it’s not actually suitable if you suffer from a milk allergy (or a nut allergy either).
The Verdict – Vegan chocolate:
From sampling an abundance of dairy-free chocolates over the past few weeks, it is clear that going vegan doesn’t mean forgoing the fun of indulging in a chocolate bar.
I am truly impressed with just how many vegan chocolate offerings are now on the market and I have struggled to whittle it down for this guide.
What is your favourite vegan chocolate (aka what should I try next)?
Words by Megan D’Ardenne, @lovedbymegan, lovedbymegan.com