One of the main reasons people are put off going vegan is the idea of giving up dairy and, in particular, chocolate.
The good news is that chocolate is made from the beans of the cocoa tree, and is entirely plant-based. The bad news is that often, milk is added in the manufacturing process to make it creamier. This doesn’t mean, however, that vegans can’t eat chocolate. It doesn’t mean they can only eat dark chocolate, either. Far from it!
Lots of dark chocolate is accidentally vegan (not intentionally made to be vegan or marketed as such) as it doesn’t contain milk, but don’t assume that it all is. Cheaper brands in particular often add a bit of milk in for filler, as lowering the cocoa content cuts costs, so check the ingredients list. Be wary of lecithin (a fat that is often soy-based but can be taken from animal tissue or eggs), albumin (taken from egg whites) and stearic acid (animal fat). The highest quality dark chocolate won’t include much more than cocoa, cocoa butter and sugar.
Perhaps you’re dubious about whether vegan milk chocolate can compare to the real thing. Well, a lot of it doesn’t, but we’ve found some fantastic alternatives we’d never know didn’t contain animal milk, such as those made by Moo Free and Cocoa Libre. These tend to make use of nut milk or rice milk, instead, to mimic that melty deliciousness. There’s even one caramel bar, made by Loving Earth, that tastes so sweet and light it could be white chocolate.
We tried and tested a huge range of chocolate, some from all-vegan brands, others from non-vegan brands with vegan options, to compile our round-up of the best. Taste, texture, similarity to milk chocolate (where appropriate), packaging and value for money were among the many factors taken into consideration.
Whether you’re vegan, an aspiring vegan, a part-time vegan or simply like really good chocolate, you’re bound to enjoy the yummy bars listed here, which are also great for those suffering from allergies.
Moo Free Mini Moos Bar Cheeky Orange: 99p for 23g, Holland & Barrett
Brits Mike and Andrea Jessop set up Moo Free after struggling to find a decent milk chocolate substitute to enjoy with their respective lactose and gluten intolerances. Many trials and tribulations eventually led them to rice milk, made by blending brown rice with water then straining it (you can try it at home!), which mimics the creaminess of dairy.
If you’re sceptical, so were we, but unless you’re a Terry’s Chocolate Orange superfan, we doubt you’d be able to taste the difference between the iconic favourite and this gluten-free, mostly organic, Vegan Society-certified alternative. It’s impressively melt-in-the-mouth and not too thick and sickly. These snack-sized bars are perfect for popping into your handbag of kid’s lunchbox and come in fun, brightly-coloured wrappers, this one featuring a cheeky chimp. There are three other flavours to choose from in the mini range: original, honeycomb and our second favourite, mint. Delicious.
Vego Mini Hazelnut Chocolate Bar: £1.99 for 65g, Holland & Barrett
If you love the classic childhood taste of Nutella but bemoan its milk content, Vego’s yummy hazelnut choccie is calling your name. Its list of eco accolades is long; this bar is organic, Fairtrade, gluten-free, palm oil-free and, of course, totally vegan. The texture is silky smooth, thanks to cocoa butter mixed with a fine hazelnut paste, but its punctuated with chunky whole hazelnuts for a welcome bit of bite.
We reckon you’ll be surprised by how much it tastes like your favourite milk chocolate Cadbury’s bar, so good is it at mimicking the taste. The packaging is bold and easy to spot on the shelf so you can pop in and grab your fix as soon as the craving strikes. It’s on the pricey side but you get a lot of chunky chocolate for your money, so much so that we did the unthinkable and saved half for another day! There’s an even bigger, 150g bar available too.
Doisy & Dam Dark Chocolate Maple, Toasted Rice & Pink Salt: £1.29 for 25g, Planet Organic
If you’re a seasoned chocaholic hoping to try something different, let this intriguing superfoods flavour from Doisy & Dam, a health-conscious British start-up founded by two childhood best buds, entice you. The sprinkling of Himalayan pink salt instantly excites, fabulously complementing the bitterness of the 74 per cent cocoa dark chocolate and the caramel-like sweetness of the Canadian maple syrup. Lightly-toasted brown rice crisps up the texture as the chocolate slowly melts on your tongue.
The bright, geometric packaging is fully recyclable and reflects how fun this bar is to scoff. The fact it’s vegan, gluten-free, organic and made from single-origin Dominican Republic cacao is a bonus. This proved one of the most moreish bars on our list, so if you really want to treat yourself, there are 80g bars and sharing bags of chocolate shards to indulge in, too. This range isn’t entirely vegan, but other flavours that are include coconut and lucuma and goji and orange.
Ombar Centres Pistachio: £1.99 for 35g, The Vegan Kind
Cambridge-based chocolate brand Ombar has been on our radar for a while, so we were thrilled to find they’ve just realised a new flavour in our favourite Centres range – pistachio! Expect a layer of velvety, nutty truffle hugged by 60 per cent dark chocolate that’s free from refined sugar. It’s a rich, decadent treat that leaves a satisfyingly buttery sensation in your mouth.
Chocolate is never going to be the healthiest of snacks, but these all-natural bars are made using only unroasted cacao, jam-packed with nutrients and flavour. It’s sourced ethically from Ecuadorian farmers, certified organic and stamped with the Vegan Society logo too. Be sure to try the coconut and raspberry flavour too, and we’re bonkers for the ever-popular dairy-free chocolate buttons, priced at just £1.49 a bag.
Booja-Booja Dairy-Free Raspberry Ecuadorian Chocolate Truffles: £4.99 for 69g, Ocado
Our taste buds are still tingling days after taking our first bite of these tantalising truffles from luxury Norfolk boutique, Booja Booja. Made with 100 per cent dark raw chocolate produced from Ecuador’s finest cocoa beans, there are just five ingredients in total, all certified organic (note the proud Soil Association logo). The dusting of bitter cocoa powder hits first as you crack through a thin, crisp casing and sink your teeth into a gorgeously silky ganache.
Then the raspberry explodes with a terrific tang that stops short of making you wince thanks to sweet agave syrup and coconut oil. If fruity chocolate isn’t your thing, take your pick from seven other fabulous flavours: honeycomb caramel, toffee strudel, hazelnut crunch, almond salted caramel, pure dark, midnight espresso and fine de champagne. There are six truffles to each classy yet colourful little box, which all have the Vegan Society’s seal of approval.
Loving Earth Salted Caramel: £1.75 for 30g, Planet Organic
You’ll be hard pushed to find a more wholly ethical chocolate treat than those made by sunny Melbourne’s Loving Earth. These truly scrumptious bars are produced in a solar-powered factory from cacao grown in remote forest at the source of the Amazon River in Peru and packaged in a fully home-compostable wrapper. They’re 100 per cent plant-based, vegan, gluten-free and certified organic.
Our highlight is their unique take on white chocolate, a caramel made creamy using cashew nuts and imbued with the butterscotch taste of coconut nectar. Hand-harvested pink lake salt brings out the flavours, while the texture is the softest and meltiest in this roundup. This gets our thumbs up, but try their darker options (the mint is particularly punchy) if you prefer your chocolate firmer and snappier. Either way, it’s hard to argue that the taste is heavenly.
Cocoa Libre Milk Chocolate Honeycomb: £2.50 for 100g, Asda
Sometimes you'll be looking for a more luxury chocolate bar, especially when a vegan pal’s birthday is coming up. North Somerset-based brand Cocoa Libre has nailed the milk chocolate without the milk thing, turning to good old rice once again, and the resulting slab is rustic yet refined, and creamy yet dairy-free. Don’t panic at the sight of that plentiful scattering of honeycomb – there’s no honey made from bees involved in the making of honeycomb, so this bar is suitable for vegans, as well as coeliacs.
It tastes awesome, though predictably super sweet, so try and pace yourself! The deliciousness doesn’t stop here; try the dark raspberry and dark orange with ginger. Children especially will love the milk penguins, mint owls and orange frogs.
LoveRaw Peanut Butter Butter Cups: £2.09 for 35g, Ocado
Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups for vegans, anyone? Yes please, was our firm answer, and we’re delighted to report that family-run business LoveRaw’s imitation did not disappoint. Made from organic, fairtrade chocolate sweetened with agave and coconut sugar, they’re natural, healthier and taste just as good. There’s a generous helping of peanut butter once you bite through the dark chocolate casing, and the combination is tasty and addictive without being sickly.
Try the hazelnut butter and salted caramel-filled cups too, but we recommend keeping the fact there are two in each packet to yourself, else you risk having to share! The cheery orange packaging will appeal to kids, who’ll never know they’re better for you than the state-side original they know and love.
Montezuma’s Like No Udder Milk Chocolate Alternative Bar: £2.99 for 100g, Montezuma’s
This new milk chocolate alternative bar from the husband and wife team behind “Britain’s greatest little chocolate company” also extols the power of rice to recreate the creamy taste and texture of dairy. Co-founder Helen Pattinson set about creating the Like No Udder range after noticing a growing interest in their dark chocolate and vegan ranges over the past few years.
Montezuma’s isn’t a fully vegan brand, so we were sceptical about how well this bar (or more accurately, slab) would fare during our rigourous taste test. Unfairly so, it turned out, as though not as convincing as Moo Free’s milk replacement, it has a lovely smooth texture and a subtle fruity hint to it. If you’re after a bar that falls between milk and dark chocolate, this one’s a winner. We reccommend the Sweet Orange, variation too.
Rawr Organic Lucuma Cacao Bar: £2.45 for 60g, Rawr
We’re willing to bet you’ve never tried a chocolate bar like this one before. Lucuma, a Peruvian fruit from Peru, gives it a unique texture not dissimilar to crumbly fudge. Cocoa butter, coconut palm sugar and vanilla are the only other ingredients in a 100 per cent organic bar that’s certified by the Soil Association, Fairtrade and the Vegan Society. We’ll admit our first taste took us by surprise and we weren’t sure if we liked it.
Then, before we knew it, we’d eaten the whole thing and were ordering more. Luckily, coconut sugar is used to sweeten it, instead of refined white sugar, so they’re that bit better for you. The team at Rawr are so obsessed by chocolate they’ve even made their pretty, angel wings-illustrated packaging out of cacao shells. Other sensational flavours include goji berry and vanilla, mint, and orange.
The Verdict: Vegan chocolate bars
Moo Free wowed us with their success in imitating a milk chocolate bar so well we wouldn’t know the difference, and they’re affordable too at under a pound a pop. Booja Booja’s dark raspberry truffles set our chocaholic pulses racing and we enjoyed LoveRaw’s Reese’s Pieces dupes greatly, too.