Chocolate chips are a popular ingredient that’s often used in baking. These sweet and tasty morsels can be used to make chocolate brownies, cookies, and pastries.
There are lots of baking recipes that require chocolate chips, but what if you are vegan? Are chocolate chips suitable for a plant-based diet?
Many people believe that chocolate chips are vegan, but this is often false. Some chocolate chips may be plant-based, but this will vary across each brand.
Many manufacturers create their products with animal byproducts, like butter, milk, or artificial flavorings. Some sweetened chocolate chips may be made with white sugar, a product that a lot of vegans do not consume.
Dark and bitter types of chocolate chips are more likely to be vegan, but there are always exceptions to this rule. You’ll learn more about whether chocolate chips are vegan or not in this post.
We’ll go over the common non-vegan substances used to make chocolate chips, as well as how to figure out if your brand is vegan-friendly.
Are Chocolate Chips Vegan-Friendly?
Vegans should be wary of any product that contains chocolate, and that includes chocolate chips. As is the case with several types of chocolate candy, these sweet chips aren’t normally made of 100% chocolate. They are usually made with animal byproducts that improve taste and provide distinct, pleasant flavors.
Looking at the ingredient label is the best method of checking whether your chosen chocolate chips are vegan-friendly.
It’s a good idea to do this regularly, even if you stick to the same brand. Food manufacturers are changing recipes all the time, so a product that is vegan one minute might not be the next.
Another way of locating vegan chocolate chips is to keep an eye out for vegan-approved brands. Items from these product lines are usually branded with a ‘vegan’ or ‘V’ label.
However, an issue with this is that many popular grocery stores cater to the majority, so they may not stock a lot of vegan brands.
You can search online or shop at specific stores to find these products, like Amazon, Trader Joe’s, and Whole Foods.
Non-Vegan Substances In Chocolate Chips
The ingredients used in a chocolate chip recipe determine whether the product is vegan or not. In most cases, natural brands of chocolate chips have a greater chance of being vegan. Products which are more sugary or sweet aren’t as likely to be plant-based friendly. Here are the main non-vegan ingredients used in chocolate chips that you should look out for.
White, Refined Sugar
Pure sugar, sourced from the sugar cane plant, is typically suitable for vegans. These are simply sugar crystals that have been sourced from sugarcane juice.
The issue here is with white, refined sugar. This is the most popular sweetener to make candy, like chocolate chips. Sugar is naturally brown, but the process to turn it into white sugar often uses bone char.
Bone char is produced from ground animal bones. Any sugar brands which have been processed with bone char help sustain the meat industry so that they won’t be vegan friendly.
Milkfat is another popular ingredient used to make milk chocolate and semi-sweet chocolate chips. The ingredient is sourced straight from milk, which means it isn’t vegan as it exploits cows.
Milkfat is pure fat that is derived from heavy cream and whole milk. It gives chocolate chips a pleasant velvety consistency, but it isn’t vegan.
Milk is also used to make several types of chocolate, including white chocolate, milk chocolate, and sugary chocolate chips. Milk is obtained from exploiting cows, so the ingredient isn’t vegan-friendly.
Byproducts Of Milk
Milkfat and milk are clearly non-vegan ingredients, but there are other milk byproducts that you should be wary of.
Sodium caseinate, whey, and casein are examples of these. They are all proteins that have been isolated from milk while cheese is being produced.
Butter isn’t a common ingredient in chocolate chips, but you may find that some manufacturers use butter in their recipes. Butter is produced from churning salt, milk, and cream. This makes it a dairy product, so it isn’t vegan.
Is Cocoa Suitable For Vegans?
Cocoa is the primary substance used to make all types of chocolate, including chocolate chips. Fortunately, cocoa is plant-based and suitable for a vegan diet.
Cocoa also has some health benefits, like improving inflammation, enhancing mood, and decreasing blood glucose levels. It’s arguably the healthiest ingredient used to make chocolate chips!
Is Cocoa Butter Suitable For Vegans?
Cocoa butter is often used in chocolate chip recipes to give each piece a creamy consistency. People often believe that cocoa butter isn’t vegan, due to the word ‘butter’. Many people think that cocoa butter is a blend of butter, a dairy product, and cocoa, but this isn’t true.
- Cocoa butter is sourced from the substance which covers the exterior of cocoa beans. To put this into perspective, here is an explanation of how cocoa butter and cocoa powder are made.
- Cocoa begins as big pods that come from the cacao tree. These pods are taken from the tree once they are ripe.
- They have a dense layer of cream coating the beans in the middle of the pod. This cream is taken from the cocoa beans to make cocoa butter.
- The cocoa beans are then baked or sun-dried, then ground down into a cocoa powder.
This process does not exploit animals, so cocoa butter is considered a vegan product. It’s a natural fat source that is also used to make soap and lotion, as well as chocolate chips!
A Note On Dark Chocolate Chips
The majority of light, sweet chocolate chips in the grocery store will be made with white sugar and dairy products. You can find some brands that make vegan semi-sweet chips, but these aren’t that common. Dark chocolate chips are more likely to be vegan, as they aren’t made with milk fat or milk.
However, some of these brands may use white sugar in their recipe, so keep an eye out for dark chocolate chips made using cane sugar.
A lot of chocolate chips are made with non-vegan ingredients, but you may be able to find dark chocolate versions which aren’t made with dairy or white sugar.
You can find these brands online or at your nearest health food store. Remember to keep an eye out for the ‘vegan’ label, and check the ingredient list to ensure the product is 100% plant-based friendly.