Just a few years ago, great-tasting vegan chocolate seemed like an impossible dream but, low and behold, dreams do come true! As independent chocolatiers become inspired to create healthy, vegan and dairy-free chocolate, there is now a wide variety of delicious vegan bars available.
What’s more – the rise of bean to bar chocolate and the evolution of vegan chocolate towards the bean to bar method means there are many reasons to get excited about this tasty and ethical treat.
Going Back to the Start – Vegan Simplicity
When chocolate first came to Europe, way back in the 16th century, it was consumed as a drink. Rather different to the rich hot chocolate we’ve come to know and love today, this was a bitter beverage that was sometimes sweetened with honey to make it more palatable.
Although milk was occasionally added to the mix, the earliest forms of chocolate were dairy-free, and many versions were vegan too. In fact, the very first chocolate bar, made in 1847 from just cocoa butter, chocolate liquor and sugar, was also vegan.
The Rise of Milk Chocolate
Just 20 years later, Daniel Peter, a Swiss chocolatier, added dried milk powder to chocolate and created the original version of milk chocolate as we know it today. When he teamed up with Henri Nestlé (sound familiar?!), they brought milk chocolate to the masses, and it became a much-loved commodity.
Sadly, as the industry continued to evolve, manufacturers focused on producing chocolate in vast quantities at the lowest possible price, which meant unfair practices were imposed on cocoa farmers and low-quality, refined ingredients were frequently used.
Is Dark Chocolate Vegan or Dairy-Free?
Generally, dark chocolate is both vegan and dairy-free, but this isn’t always the case. Dark chocolate bars with a high cocoa percentage are most likely to be vegan and free from dairy products but even this isn’t guaranteed.
If you’re following a vegan diet or you want to avoid dairy products, it’s always worth checking the label before you enjoy some much-needed chocolate. Alternatively, try a vegan variety that you can be confident won’t contain any animal derivatives.
The Resurgence of Vegan Chocolate (Hurrah!)
Following the launch of the first milk chocolate bar in 1876, it took more than 100 years for a vegan chocolate bar to be produced. In the 1980s, plant milks made vegan milk chocolate possible and, since then, we haven’t looked back. In fact, things have got even better…
While vegan chocolate was a great step forward in terms of creating healthy chocolate gifts, there was still plenty of inequality throughout the industry and non-dairy chocolate wasn’t necessarily produced with ethically sourced cocoa beans.
Fortunately, increased demand for healthy snacks with chocolate and fair trade chocolate highlighted the need for a new way of thinking (and doing). And along came bean to bar chocolate…
What is Bean to Bar Chocolate?
Bean to bar chocolate refers to the practice of one company controlling the production and creation of the product from start to finish (literally, from cocoa bean to bar!).
For example, we work with cocoa farmers in Sur del Lago, Venezuela and the Esmeraldas region in Ecuador and use beans harvested from Criollo and Trinitario trees in Sur del Lago and Arriba beans from Ecuador to produce our delicious chocolate Chapters.
As we take a keen interest in choosing who to partner with, we choose our cocoa beans based on their flavour and ensure the farmers we work with get a fair deal. In fact, we pay our farmers higher than fair trade standards (and are happy to do so).
But it doesn’t stop there. In addition to carefully cultivating our partnerships with farmers, we’re involved in every aspect of production, from creating new recipes, to sourcing unrefined ingredients and tasting the finished product (we do a lot of that).
Is Bean to Bar Chocolate Healthy?
It’s easy to assume that all chocolate is bad for you, simply because this is the messaging we’re given by the media. While it’s true that mass-produced chocolate, full of sugar and refined ingredients, can be bad for you, healthy chocolate bars do exist!
Cocoa contains a wide variety of health-boosting vitamins and minerals, such as vitamins A, B1, B2, B3, C and E, zinc, potassium, magnesium, iron, copper and calcium. By choosing bean to bar chocolate made with unrefined ingredients, you retain as much of the goodness as possible, which enhances the health benefits that chocolate can offer.
Similarly, dark chocolate is well-known for its high antioxidant levels, which can help to prevent cell damage. Additionally, dark chocolate is believed to help lower ‘bad’ cholesterol levels, support collagen production and reduce the risk of heart disease, so there are plenty of reasons to indulge in dark chocolate fair trade products!
Why Try Bean to Bar Chocolate?
Bean to bar chocolate typically has fewer ingredients than mass-produced alternatives and the ingredients it does have tend to be higher quality, better for you and tastier. But this isn't the only reason to switch to bean to bar chocolate.
When you choose bean to bar, you're supporting ethical processing practices and ensuring cocoa farmers get a fair deal for their work and their products. With full transparency over where our beans come from, for example, you can see how we’re helping to support the communities and regions that enable us to make our great-tasting Chapters.
Vegan and Dairy-Free Bean to Bar Chocolate
If you’re eager to try vegan bean to bar chocolate, head over to our vegan range of Chapters and explore the exquisite flavours we have on offer. Get a delicious coffee bean kick with our Genius bar, enjoy the health benefits of medicinal mushrooms with our Healers bar or get ready for lift off with our marshmallow-packed Astronauts bar.
Whether you’re following a vegan diet, looking for dairy free alternatives or want to find the perfect gift for loved ones, our vegan range of dairy-free bean to bar chocolate is the perfect treat.