10% off €30 OR 15% off €40


10% off €30 OR 15% off €40


Use code:JOY

Four Vegan Chocolate Slabs, with added dried fruit and nuts

Your ultimate guide to vegan chocolate

15 Aug 2023 • 8 min read


No, you aren’t dreaming. You’ve read right, and there’s actually a whole section of our website dedicated to nothing but vegan chocolates.

In a world where dietary preferences are ever-evolving, the demand for delectable vegan alternatives to our favourite treats continues to soar.

Whether you're a seasoned vegan, curious foodie, or looking to cut out dairy, this article will be your gateway to exploring the diverse and mouth-watering world of vegan chocolate.

From velvety dark cocoa delights to luscious white chocolate alternatives, we'll delve into the exciting variations and brands that cater to every vegan chocolate lover's desire.

If you didn’t have a chocolate craving at the start of this article, we can guarantee you will have by the time you reach the end of it…

Skip to: What is vegan chocolate? | Common ingredients to avoid | What is vegan chocolate made from? | Which chocolates are vegan? | How to make your own vegan chocolate | 14 best vegan chocolate products | Chocolate FAQs

What is vegan chocolate?

Vegan chocolate is a type of chocolate that is made without any animal-derived ingredients, including milk.1

Traditional chocolate typically contains milk solids or milk fat, which makes it unsuitable for those following a vegan diet, as vegans avoid all animal products.2

Any chocolates made from animal products aren’t classed as vegan, and the use of milk is one of the main signs chocolate isn’t suitable for vegans to tuck into.

Non-vegan chocolate ingredients to avoid

Non-vegan chocolate ingredients to avoid

The following ingredients are not vegan friendly in chocolates:3

  • Milk
  • Milkfat
  • Milk solids
  • Other milk derivatives – casein, whey protein isolate
  • Shellac AKA confectioner’s glaze
  • Lecithin from animal sources

What is vegan chocolate made from?

Chocolate is made using cacao beans which are found on cacao trees (Theobroma cacao), meaning chocolate in its ‘raw form’ is vegan friendly as it’s a plant-based food.4

To make chocolate products such as bars, truffles, cakes etc. animal and dairy ingredients are often added such as milk products, butter and eggs.5

To create vegan chocolate, manufacturers replace dairy ingredients with plant-based alternatives. Common substitutes for milk solids or milk fat include:6

  • Plant-based milk: Non-dairy milk like almond milk, soy milk, coconut milk, oat milk, or rice milk can be used to replace regular cow's milk.
  • Cocoa butter: This is a natural fat extracted from cocoa beans and is used in many vegan chocolate products to provide the creamy texture.
  • Coconut oil: Sometimes used as a substitute for cocoa butter, coconut oil adds richness to the chocolate.
  • Nut butters: Almond butter, peanut butter, or other nut butters can be incorporated into the chocolate for flavour and texture.
  • Soy lecithin: Often used as an emulsifier to keep the ingredients mixed together, it's derived from soy and is a common component of vegan chocolate.

Is cocoa butter vegan?

Is cocoa butter vegan?

The name may be deceiving but cocoa butter is naturally free of dairy, eggs, honey and other animal-derived ingredients.

Cocoa butter is a type of fat that comes from cocoa beans.7

Beans from the cacao plant are roasted, stripped and then pressed to separate out the fat, which is how we get cocoa butter.7

So, seeing cocoa butter listed in the above products may have concerned you, however, you can have peace of mind that cocoa butter is 100% vegan.

Which chocolates are vegan?

Most types of milk and white chocolate are made with all or some of the ingredients above, making it strictly off-limits for vegan chocolate lovers.8

Only chocolate that’s been made using zero dairy products and hasn’t become contaminated by manufacturers using the same machinery to make vegan and non-vegan chocolate can be classed as vegan.

It is possible to get vegan ‘milk’ chocolate, provided the chocolate hasn’t been made with dairy milk, but a plant-based milk alternative, such as coconut, instead.

Lecithin can also be animal or plant-based; the soy and sunflower versions of it are vegan-friendly.9

Is all dark chocolate vegan?

Now that’s a good question! No, unfortunately not all dark chocolate is vegan.

While dark chocolate typically contains a higher percentage of cocoa solids and less milk than milk chocolate, some dark chocolate products still include milk or other non-vegan ingredients.10

Vegan dark chocolate will usually explicitly state that it is dairy-free or vegan on the packaging. Alternatively, you can always check the product's ingredients list on the packaging. Look for any dairy-related ingredients like milk solids, milk fat, or whey, as well as other non-vegan additives.

Some dark chocolates may also contain animal-derived additives like honey, gelatine, and certain food colourings or flavourings.

If you’re vegan, it’s best to presume that most dark chocolate isn’t vegan at first glance (sorry, but it’s really best to err on the side of caution when it comes to chocolate).

How to identify vegan dark chocolate

How to identify vegan dark chocolate

Spotting vegan dark chocolate is relatively easy, you just need to look out for the vegan label. Brands that produce vegan dark chocolate use ingredients that are mostly or entirely plant-based!

Most plant-based dark chocolate carries a vegan label, however, do keep an eye out for ‘may contain milk’ statements as there could be a risk of cross-contamination during the manufacturing process.

If you are choosing to eat vegan chocolate to avoid consuming dairy due to a milk allergy or lactose intolerance, we would advise opting for certified ‘Dairy Free’ chocolate instead.

Another little tip to remember when buying dark chocolate…

The percentage of cacao tells you how much cacao is in the chocolate bar. Where possible, try to choose dark chocolate that contains between 55 and 85% cacao.

Is white chocolate vegan?

Just like dark chocolate, most white chocolate is not suitable for vegans due to the reasons mentioned earlier. Nevertheless, vegan versions of white chocolate do exist, and you can even make it yourself without requiring many ingredients.

Legally, for a product to be classified as white chocolate, it must contain 3.5% milk fat and 14% milk solids. So, any white chocolate that lacks milk cannot officially be labelled as such.11

The main ingredient in vegan “white chocolate” alternatives is cocoa butter, followed by powdered sugar, rice powder (not milk powder), salt and vanilla extract.12

How to make your own vegan chocolate

If you like the idea of making your own vegan chocolate, then you’re in luck, because there are lots of vegan chocolate recipes out there.

Here are a couple of our favourite vegan chocolate recipes:

Vegan milk chocolate


Vegan dark chocolate


Where can I buy vegan chocolate?

Where can I buy vegan chocolate?

Don’t fancy making your own vegan chocolate just yet?

That’s fine, you can buy some instead! You can purchase it online and from most stores these days, including Holland & Barrett.

The choice is vast and we happen to stock some incredible vegan and dairy free chocolate brands, including NOMO, Vego, Love Raw, Doisy & Dam and Raw Halo!

Choose between honeycomb slabs, dark chocolate bars, chocolate drops, truffles, and more…

14 of the best vegan chocolate products

To make life easier we’ve picked some of our favourite vegan chocolate products…

Best vegan chocolate bars

Read on for our top vegan chocolate bars...

Vego Organic Hazelnut Chocolate Bar - 65g

Price: £2.99

Description: This chocolate bar ticks a lot of boxes – it’s vegan, organic, Fairtrade and contains no palm oil.

High-quality ingredients, such as fine hazelnut paste, whole hazelnuts and cocoa have been blended together in a unique process to create Vego bars.

NOMO Caramel & Sea Salt Choc Bar 38g

Description: Made in the UK, NOMO bars are vegan and free from dairy, gluten, egg and nuts.

NOMO’s chefs have spent years crafting their vegan choc recipe. Also available in a Fruit & Crunch flavour.

Hu Hazelnut Butter Dark Chocolate Bar 60g

Price: £3.50

Description: With just four ingredients, Hu unites unbeatable taste with unmatched simplicity. This nut butter filled bar of joy is proudly paleo, vegan, organic and fairtrade – what’s not to love?

Applied Nutrition Vegan Indulgence Belgian Chocolate Mint Bar 50g

Price: £2.49

Description: Convenient and delicious snack which is made using natural flavours. Bite into the bar to reveal a thick layer of yummy caramel. Yum!

PhD Smart Bar Plant Dark Chocolate Brownie 60g

Price: £2.49

Description: This delicious bar is high in protein and low in sugar. Very tasty snack.

Raw Halo Vegan Mylk & Vanilla Raw Chocolate 22

Price: £0.99

Description: Made with organic cacao, creamed coconut and coconut sugar, this bar has a luxurious glossy shine, a satisfying snap, and a melt-in-your-mouth smoothness, which is divine.

Love Raw 2 Vegan Cre&m Filled Wafer Bars 43g

Price: £1.89

Description: If you are craving a Bueno, these are the ultimate vegan indulgence! A crunchy wafer loaded with a layer of fluffy hazelnut and cocoa filling and topped off with a coating of LoveRaw's iconic choc

Best vegan truffles

Best vegan truffles

Booja Booja Almond Truffle 2 Pack

Description: Booja Booja’s multi-award-winning Almond Salted Caramel Truffles are vegan, organic and dairy, gluten and soya free.

These melt-in-your-mouth vegan chocolate truffles, with their chewy, gooey sea salted caramel and roasted almonds filling, are the perfect on-the-go chocolate fix.

Also available in Hazelnut Truffle flavour.

Best vegan nut butter cups

Pip & Nut Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups 34g

Price: £1.79

Description: Award-winning peanut butter wrapped in delicious single-origin Colombian chocolate, these Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups are a total treat Also available in a Dark Chocolate Almond Butter flavour.

Love Raw Vegan M:lk Choc Peanut Butter Cup 34g

Price: £1.89

Description: Suitable for vegans and vegetarians and gluten-free, enjoy two Choc Peanut Butter Cups oozing with smooth, silky peanut butter and covered in a layer of melt-in-the-mouth choc.

Best vegan chocolate nibbles

Doisy & Dam D&Ds Vegan Dark Chocolate Drops 80g

Description: If you’re vegan and you’re missing the likes of M&Ms and Smarties, then these are just the treat for you. Try these delicious dark chocolate drops with a crunchy outer coating for a tasty dose of vegan chocolate.

Also available in smaller snack packs and Dark Chocolate Peanut flavour!

Best vegan chocolate cake

Everfresh Chocolate Cake 350g

Description: Don’t fret, becoming vegan doesn’t mean that you have to say goodbye to chocolate cake.

There are chocolate cakes available in most supermarkets these days, alternatively, we sell the devilishly good chocolate cake by Everfresh.

This cake is baked with the goodness of sprouted grains and wholemeal flour.

Alternately, if you enjoy baking (and fancy yourself as a bit of a Mary Berry), why not browse our vegan baking products range?

If you need some inspiration, check out our recipe for a very tasty vegan chocolate fudge decadence cake.

Best vegan hot chocolate

Willie's Cacao Hot Chocolate 250g

Price: £3.99

Description: This luxury hot chocolate is 100% natural, containing only two ingredients, cacao and raw cane sugar.

Naturya Hot Chocolate Organic 250g

Price: £5.00

Description: Lightly sweetened with organic coconut sugar, this decadent hot chocolate blend combines the rich flavour of sustainably sourced fairtrade cacao powder with the nutty, caramel notes of lucuma and maca.


What is organic chocolate?


What is Fairtrade chocolate?


A few final words about vegan chocolate…

If you’re vegan, you don’t have to forego your beloved chocolate because there are so many incredibly satisfying vegan chocolate treats available today.

The best way to know if a product is vegan is by checking the label! Ideally, you want to stick with vegan-certified products to make sure the chocolate you buy is 100% vegan. Always keep an eye out for trace warnings in case there is a chance of cross-contamination.

Alternatively, if you’re feeling particularly crafty, you could always have a go at making your own! It’s pretty simple and only requires a few ingredients.

We don’t know about you but we’re feeling a bit peckish after that…



Author: Amy TalbotRegulatory Affairs Associate

Joined Holland & Barrett: Aug 2005

Amy originally started her career with Holland & Barrett in August 2005 with the Labelling Regulatory team for Vitamins, Minerals and Supplements. 

Amy moved over to support the Food Regulatory Team in October 2020 and was promoted to her role of Regulatory Affairs Associate (Food) in February 2021.

In her spare time, Amy likes to go to the gym, listen to a variety of podcasts, read and socialise with friends.

Read more
  • Visa
  • MasterCard
  • AmericanExpress
  • PayPal
  • Facebook
  • Twitter
Copyright © Holland & Barrett Limited, 2023. All rights reserved. hollandandbarrett.ie is a trading name of Holland & Barrett Limited. Registered office: 45 Henry Street, Dublin, Dublin 1, D01 E9X8. Registered in Ireland: Company no. 79819. Registered VAT no. 4682002U.