Chocolate can be, should be, and often is vegan!
Adopting a plant-based lifestyle may mean “giving up” a few things, but chocolate certainly isn’t one of them.
Unfortunately, it seems that chocolate has become synonymous with milk chocolate. But in reality, pure dark chocolate (you know, the heart-healthy kind), is totally plant-based! Here’s a quick primer on how most commercially available chocolate is made:
- Cacao pods are harvested from cacao trees growing throughout the tropics.
- The beans from inside those pods are then placed in earthen pits or wooden bins, covered with banana leaves, and left to ferment.
- After fermentation, the beans are dried in the sun for about a week.
- Dried beans are shipped to a factory, where they are first sifted and roasted.
- The beans are then cracked and winnowed, leaving the bitter but edible cacao nibs.
- The nibs are crushed and ground into a thick paste called chocolate liquor. Chocolate liquor has a strong, bitter taste, and a grainy texture.
- To make what we know as chocolate, manufacturers then add sugar, cocoa butter and vanilla, yielding a sweet but still grainy mixture.
- Finally, manufacturers run the mixture through a series of steel rollers to refine the texture, and may add more cocoa butter and soy lecithin.
Step #7 is where you would add milk if you were making milk chocolate. But of course this is totally unnecessary, and research has even shown that milk decreases absorption of the heart-healthy flavonoids found in chocolate.
So let’s get to the chocolate! Here’s a list of 10 of our favorite commercially available, vegan dark chocolate bars. Let us know if we missed one, or share your favorite in the comments section below!
- Alter Eco Dark Chocolate Varieties
- Chocolove Dark Chocolate Varieties
- Crispy Cat Chocolate Bars
- Divine Dark Chocolate Varieties
- Endangered Species Organic Dark Chocolate
- Equal Exchange Dark Chocolate Varieties
- Kallari Chocolates
- Lake Champlain Dark Chocolate Varieties
- Newman’s Own Dark Chocolate Varieties
- Theo Dark Chocolate Varieties
Image Credit: Chocolate Reviews/Flickr