Last Updated on March 14, 2021 by admin
If you’re looking for a sugar boost or a little pick-me-up, eating a few squares (okay, maybe more than a few squares) of chocolate is always a good idea. You’re thinking of starting a vegan diet, but the thought of giving up chocolate makes you not want to do it. Can vegans eat chocolate? If so, why?
Vegans and vegetarians alike can eat chocolate, and they do so primarily for the taste. Chocolate can also be healthy in other ways, such as acting as a good source of antioxidants and possibly even lowering your risk of heart disease when eaten in moderation.
Ahead, we’ll cover the ingredients in chocolate, elaborate further on the benefits of this sweet treat, and share a few vegan-safe chocolate brands. Chocoholics, this is one article you’re not going to want to miss!
What’s in Chocolate?
The ingredients in chocolate vary depending on whether your candy bar is milk, dark, or white chocolate. Here is a handy ingredients list for all three types of chocolate.
Milk Chocolate Ingredients
At its most basic, milk chocolate contains these ingredients: milk, chocolate liquor, cocoa butter, and sugar. In a commercial candy bar like Hershey’s, you might see additional ingredients, such as natural flavors, soy or lecithin, milk fat, and cane sugar.
Dark Chocolate Ingredients
Dark chocolate gets its darker color and richer flavor profile from ingredients like sugar, cocoa butter, and cocoa solids between 50 and 90 percent. Depending on the number of cocoa solids, dark chocolate can have a sweeter or bitterer flavor.
White Chocolate Ingredients
If you prefer white chocolate over dark or milk, this variety includes milk solids, sugar, cocoa butter, and vanilla. Although white chocolate isn’t technically chocolate because it has no cocoa solids, it does have a flavor like chocolate.
Why Do Vegans Eat Chocolate? The Health Benefits of Chocolate
Mmm, if we got you craving chocolate now as a vegan or vegetarian, that’s okay. This vegan-friendly candy, if consumed moderately, can be beneficial for your health in a variety of ways. Here’s an overview.
May Help Your Brain Work Even Better
If you need a brain boost, skip the coffee and reach for the chocolate instead. In 2006, the Journal of Cardiovascular Pharmacology and Therapeutics did a study on young individuals to see how the flavanols in chocolate would affect their cognitive functioning.
Flavanols, by the way, are polyphenols that act as antioxidants or protectants. Indeed, the results of the study showed that after a five-day span of consuming cocoa with flavanols, the participants had more blood flowing to their brains.
Could Lower Your Risk of Heart Disease
Although cutting down on sugar is a good way to keep your heart healthy and strong, a bit of chocolate here and there won’t hurt. If anything, it may help. So says this 2006 study. Nearly 500 men, all elderly, were reviewed over 15 years. Those who ate cocoa periodically had healthier hearts. The researchers believed the participants’ heart disease death risk may have been as low as 50 percent.
Helps Your Skin
We’ve all heard that chocolate can cause acne, but that seems to be a myth more than anything. What we do know for certain is that dark chocolate’s bioactive compounds and flavanols might benefit your skin in a variety of ways. These include providing hydration to the skin, enhancing skin density, augmenting blood flow, and warding off sun damage.
More Nutritious Than You Thought
Chocolate isn’t just a source of empty calories. If your candy bar has enough cocoa (up to 80 percent), and you eat 100 grams of the stuff, here are the minerals and nutrients you’re ingesting:
- Fiber (11 grams)
Which Chocolate Is Vegan-Safe?
You’re sold! As a vegan or vegetarian, you now see that chocolate can be a part of a healthy, balanced diet. To ensure you’re sticking to your vegan eating habits, which chocolate should you shop for?
Here is a list of vegan chocolate brands. Both vegans and vegetarians can’t go wrong with any of these picks:
- Sjaaks Organic Chocolate
- Terra Nostra Rice Milk Choco Bars
- Plamil So Free Organic Chocolate, which is also fair trade
- Whole Foods Brand chocolate, including their Dark Chocolate with Almonds, Dark Chocolate, and Chocolate Chip candy bars
Although milk is a common ingredient in chocolate, the following manufacturers use other ingredients for manufacturing chocolate that makes it vegan-safe. You can trust that this chocolate has no animal products or byproducts, additives, casein, whey, or dairy.
- Fanny May 70-percent dark chocolate bars
- Organic Equal Exchange Chocolate, although not the milk chocolate variety
- Green and Blacks Organic Chocolate, but only the dark variety
- Ritter Sport’s Marzipan and Chocolate Mint
- Newman’s Own Sweet Dark Orange, Regular, and Sweet Dark Espresso varieties
- Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chips chocolate bar
- Chocolove’s Orange Peel and Dark Chocolate varieties
Unlike the purposely vegan chocolate brands, the above manufacturers don’t really tout their chocolate bars as vegan because the candy isn’t intentionally so. Although it’s not anywhere on the label, you’re free to eat these candy bars as a vegan.
According to stats from The Chocolate Store, in the United States, Americans eat 2.8 billion pounds of chocolate every year. For each person, that’s more than 11 pounds. As a vegetarian or vegan, you can continue to enjoy some milk chocolate and especially dark chocolate without breaking your diet.
Chocolate can be healthy for your skin, heart, and brain too, so you might as well treat yourself to some today.