How About Some Vegan Chocolate?

If you avoid all animal products, that doesn't mean you have to do without chocolate. Vegan chocolate is available

You might think that all chocolate is vegan chocolate, but you'd be wrong.

Despite the fact that chocolate is made from the cacao bean, which is indisputably a fruit, chocolate almost invariably contains other ingredients... and some of those ingredients can't be considered truly vegan by a long shot.

What's a vegan, then?

Most people think "vegan" and "vegetarian" are synonymous, but that's not true. All vegans are vegetarian, of course, but not all vegetarians are vegan.

An everyday vegetarian generally avoids meat and fish, but is sometimes willing to consume dairy, gelatin, honey and eggs (all animal products).

Vegans, on the other hand, eat no animal products at all, and try to avoid using derivatives like wool, beeswax, carmine, silk, and shellac-- all of which are animal products of one type or another.

Some vegans also avoid refined sugars, alcoholic beverages, steel, and vulcanized rubber, because animal fats may be used in their production. Very strict vegans avoid tap water, because in many areas it's filtered through bone charcoal filters.

Well, all righty then.

As you can guess, this avoidance of animal products and derivatives presents a problem for vegans who like their chocolate. Milk chocolate is right out... as are, frankly, most chocolates, since even bittersweet and dark chocolates usually contain a little milk. And then there's the refined sugar angle.

You might think that would pretty much settle the issue right there, but fortunately for vegans, that's not the case. Some chocolate is deliberately designed to be vegan. Here's a list of brands to look for:

• Bug Bites
• Plamil Organic
• Dagoba
• Terra Nostra Rice Milk Vegan Choco Bars
• Most varieties of Endangered Species chocolate (though not all, so carefully check
the ingredients list)
• Whole Foods Dark Chocolate and Dark Chocolate with Almonds

Needless to say, any 100% chocolate made by anyone is ideally vegan, since it contains nothing but chocolate. However, to be extra certain you'll need to check into the manufacturing methods to be sure no animal products are used. You can assume that anything certified vegan really is, of course.

Candy and beyond!

If you're into cooking with chocolate, you're fine as long as you stick to 100% cocoa powder rather than baker's chocolate. Reese's chocolate cereal, Chocolate Crème Oreos, Chocolate Chip Teddy Grahams, and Luna bars, among other products, are also completely vegan.

So there you have it: thanks to vegan chocolate, you don't have to say goodbye to your favorite snacks when you give up the whole animal products thing!