Can vegetarians eat chocolate?

In this brief guide, we will answer the query, “Can vegetarians eat chocolate?” and will discuss different types of chocolates.

Can vegetarians eat chocolate?

Yes, vegetarians can eat chocolate. Chocolate is vegetarian and even vegan by nature since it derives from the Theobroma tree. When cocoa beans are processed into chocolate, additional components are added throughout the process that might make the chocolate unpalatable to vegans or people who avoid dairy. In contrast to popular belief, vegans may consume large quantities of dark chocolate without violating any ethical or dietary restrictions (1).

The worldwide production of cocoa is based on 5 to 6 million small farmers. In 2018, 4.8 million tons of cocoa were produced worldwide. Most conventional cocoa is produced in African countries and only 13% is cultivated in Latin America (2).

Ingredients in the chocolate

The cocoa tree produces pods containing a pulp and the raw beans. The outer pod is removed together with some of the pulp and the beans are fermented. This enables chemical compounds to develop inside the beans, which are the precursors of the flavor in the final chocolate (1). Cocoa mass (beans), cocoa butter, sugar, and sometimes soya lecithin and vanilla are the main ingredients in pure chocolate. The quantity of each of these components might vary based on the chocolate maker’s formula. To begin, consider how vegetarian a high-quality chocolate’s components are since they are simple.

Cocoa mass

This smooth and uniform fluid is where the chocolate’s flavor characteristic originates from the cocoa mass. Cocoa mass is created from roasted cocoa beans and is 100 percent pure cocoa. After being roasted, the beans are grinded into fine particles, smaller than 40 micrometers (0.0015 in.) to create cocoa mass. This involves hammer mills, disc mills, ball mills, three-roll refiner or a combination of the four. The sugar can then be added in a granulated or milled form and the two mixed with extra fat (and milk powder if milk chocolate is being manufactured) (1).

 In the ingredients list on the back of a chocolate bar, it will indicate cocoa solids X percent minimum, which is the cocoa mass plus the cocoa butter combined.

Cocoa butter

Whole roasted cocoa beans are used to make pure cocoa butter, which is pressed or squeezed to remove the butter’s flavor and color. Because major chocolate makers deodorize their butter, it does not affect the chocolate’s flavor. The role of the deodorization is to minimize the variability of the flavor components, since the chocolate industry’s demand is usually for cocoa butter with a neutral taste. This process consists in removing part of flavor volatile s, free fatty acids, phospholipids, diacylglycerols and tocopherols means of high temperatures, high vacuum and steam injection. Thus, obtaining cocoa butter with a “smooth” flavor (3). .


Sugar is the sweet-tasting crystallized saccharide extracted from sugar cane or sugar beet. Both the beet and the cane produce an identical natural substance, which is chemically termed ‘sucrose’ or ‘saccharose’ (1). In most commercial chocolates, processed sugar is the standard, although there are now alternatives such as coconut sugar, Panella sugar, maple syrup, and stevia sweeteners. Sugar: Sugars come in a variety of forms and flavors. Certain refined sugars aren’t vegan friendly, such as bone char sugar, which is refined by filtering out everything that might make the sugarless white. Fortunately, there are alternatives to bone char filtration, and the sugar we use in our chocolate is extracted from Colombian sugar cane rather than imported sugar.

In the production process, together with the sugar, mineral and organic substances from the beet or sugarcane find their way into the raw juice produced. Since these non-sugar substances strongly inhibit the crystallization of the sugar, the solution must be purified. This is carried out by adding slaked lime in order to flocculate or precipitate the majority of the contaminants and even decompose a small proportion of them. When carbon dioxide is subsequently bubbled through the solution it precipitates the excess calcium hydroxide from the slaked lime in the form of calcium carbonate. This is then filtered off together with the precipitated non-sugar substances (1).

Soy lecithin

Although it is necessary to coat sugar particles with fat, this is not always easy as the sugar surface is lipophobic, i.e. it tries to repel the fat. The flow can be aided however by placing a surface-active agent, normally known as an emulsifier between the two. The most common emulsifier is lecithin, which has been used in chocolate since 1930. It is naturally occurring, often produced from soya and is said to have positive health benefits. One end of the molecule is lipophilic so remains in the fat, whereas the other end attaches itself to the sugar surface (1).

Soy lecithin is a by-product of the soybean oil production industry and is often used in chocolate to increase the viscosity of the confection. Small quantities of this make the chocolate simpler to temper and shape into completed bars since it gives the liquid chocolate a more workable consistency. The name “lecithin” comes from the Greek word “lekythos,” which means “egg yolk,” and is suitable for vegans (4). 

In the 10–20-degree range around the equator, you’ll find plantations that cultivate vanilla. Madagascar, Mexico, and Tahiti are the primary producers of vanilla beans, with Uganda producing a tiny but significant proportion.

Tropical rainforests are home to the beautiful Vanilla, a climbing creeper from the orchid family that grows in the moist undergrowth. The flavor of vanilla varies depending on where it is cultivated owing to climate, soil, plant type, and curing procedures – the vanilla is picked to ensure that it complements the inherent flavors of the cocoa beans. Vanilla is used extensively as a masking agent for bitterness in chocolate (5).

A number of volatile aroma chemicals have been identified in the three vanilla species. Characteristically 95% or more of the volatile components are present at concentrations below 10 parts per million. Although all chemicals that might be responsible for characterizing different species are not identified, anisic alcohol, anisic aldehyde, anisic ethers, anisic acid esters, and p-hydroxybenzoic acid, which may be responsible for perfumed, floral aromas, are found to be present in relative abundance in vanilla (5).

Different varieties of chocolates

Here’s a brief guide to the many kinds of chocolate you may find.

Dark chocolate

This is the purest type of chocolate you’ll find in shops, and it’s the most expensive. Cacao is the primary ingredient, and the rest is frequently added as a binder and sugar. This is the most vegan/vegetarian-friendly chocolate available, and it’s also the healthiest thanks to its high concentration of antioxidants. The flavor of dark chocolate will be greatly influenced by the cocoa mass quality and cocoa origin, giving a flavor, which can be slightly acidic and bitter if ‘over roasted’ or ‘under conched (1).

Milk chocolate

Milk chocolate is the most widely available kind of chocolate. Milk chocolate is the usual ingredient of sweets like Twix, M&Ms, and Hershey’s. Milk chocolate is a confection made from a blend of cacao, milk solids, and sugar. Milk chocolate is vegetarian-friendly, but vegans can’t have it unless they use plant-based milk.

Milk chocolate is the most popular type of chocolate, and milk ingredients are critical in delivering the highly desired properties and taste profile to consumers. Milk ingredients also have a significant effect on chocolate processing. For example, fresh milk contains lipases, which hydrolyse the triglyceride molecules and release fatty acids including butyric, caproic and capric acids. These volatile flavourful fatty acids can impart a ‘buttery’, ‘creamy’ flavor in milk chocolate (1).

White Chocolate

Since it contains no cacao, white chocolate isn’t chocolate at all. It’s a weird concoction of dairy products, sugar, and other unhealthy additives. It’s suitable for vegetarians, but not vegans.

When making white chocolate it is important that good quality fresh milk powder and high-quality deodorized cocoa butter are used. It must be conched at 40–50°C (104–122°F). When a higher conching temperature is used, there is danger of ‘browning’ the chocolate. If a ‘caramelized’ flavor is preferred, the use of ‘white’ chocolate crumb should be considered (1).

Chocolates for vegetarians and vegans that are among the best

·         Cadbury Bournville

·         Vego Chocolate Bar with Whole Hazelnuts.

·         Dark Chocolate Mint Thins Chocolate Waves

·         The vegan chocolate line from Hotel Chocolate

·         a crisp white nougat from Vivani Mylk

·         Coco Ecuadorian

·         Hotel Chocolate Fingers made with 85% dark chocolate

·         Chocolate bar with hazelnuts from Vego

·         The Velvet Edition of Green & Black Chocolate with a deep, dark color Almonds Roasted to Perfection

·         Toasted Pecans with White Chocolate and White Truffles

Check out this site for more vegetarian and vegan chocolates, featuring milk and other delicacies. 

Other FAQs about Vegetarian that you may be interested in.

Did vegetarianism become popular?

Do vegetarians eat dairy?

Do vegetarians live longer?


In this brief guide, we answered the query, “Can vegetarians eat chocolate?” and discussed different types of chocolates.


  1. Beckett, Stephen T. Traditional chocolate making. Industrial chocolate manufacture and use. 2017, 1-9. 
  2. Lazzarini, Gianna, et al. Market Potential for Organic Cocoa-Study on the global market for cocoa beans and semi-finished cocoa products. 2022.  
  3. Sirbua, Diana, Nikolai Kuhnerta, and Nikolai Kuhnert. 2 Review on cocoa lipidomics–state of knowledge. Comprehensive Analysis of Cocoa Lipidomics–unraveling the unknown chemistry of cocoa butter. 2018, 21.
  4. Shurtleff, W and Aoyagi, A. History of Soy Lecithin. 2004. Soy InfoCenter. 
  5. Havkin-Frenkel, Daphna, and Faith C. Belanger, eds. Handbook of vanilla science and technology. John Wiley & Sons, 2018.