It has always confused me when people tell me they feel sorry for me because, as a vegan, I “can’t eat chocolate.” Or that they haven’t gone vegan because they would “miss chocolate.” Or, they think I have to eat carob.
I eat chocolate every single day, even if it’s just a couple of small squares. It could be accurately described as a dietary staple. I’ve gained a bit of a reputation at work as being the resident chocolate expert.
I won’t eat just any chocolate, though. Obviously the first criteria is that it needs to be vegan. There are no exceptions to that. It also has to taste good. After that, Fair Trade is very important to me, and if it’s organic too, all the better.
So why do people think that being vegan means a life deprived of chocolate? That certainly hasn’t been my experience. Does it narrow down the options? Absolutely. But why is that automatically a bad thing? People are fed crap milk chocolate from a very young age, and come to believe that THAT is what’s chocolate! It really isn’t. Dairy is a cheap filler, nothing more.
It makes me kind of sad that people are so attached to this idea of having an infinite number of choices available to them for every single thing. Most of the world doesn’t have that luxury. Since we do have a lot of choice, I prefer to use it to source chocolate that’s ethically in-line with my values, since the cocoa industry is hugely problematic, rife with child labour and slavery (and don’t start me on the dairy industry).
It’s not always easy, and I am imperfect in the application of my values. But the options are growing, so I wanted to share a few of my favourites. I’m keeping this list to the fair trade options- there are many others out there that are not.
Theobroma ® Chocolat long bar with creamy maple butter (60%)
This amazing chocolate brand based out of Quebec has a whole whack of vegan options- dark chocolate with banana, raspberry, coconut, orange and more. They also make little tiny baby chocolate bars for those with limited self control.
But it’s the maple butter one that I love. Inside its hard dark chocolate shell hides creamy-soft maple butter. This bar manages to combine two of my favourite things in the whole wide world! It is certified organic, and made using fair trade chocolate (the company has a fair trade line, and uses the same chocolate for all its products, but doesn’t pay to certify each and every product fair trade).
Rochet Chocolatier – dark chocolate with maple sugar (72%)
I know I know, maple again! This Gatineau Quebec chocolatier makes a number of different vegan flavours, including a regular dark, dark with pepper, and dark with salt. There are two lines- one that is organic and fair trade, and one that is not. The bars cost the same, but there is slightly less chocolate for the fancy certified ones. Those ones are in the brown and green packaging.
The ingredients are beautiful and simple: unsweetened chocolate, sugar, cocoa butter, maple syrup. They don’t have a website that I could find, but are available at health food retailers and Farm Boy stores.
Alter Eco Dark Quinoa (60%)
This is another one with a super simple ingredient list (Cacao beans, raw cane sugar, cocoa butter, quinoa-rice crisps (quinoa, rice and sugar), vanilla beans). The quinoa is delightfully crunchy. The website shows quite a range of products, but I haven’t found nearly so many of them in Ottawa.
The Alter Eco line is certified organic and fair trade. I have found their products at Bulk Barn.
Camino peanut butter snack bar
Camino makes a huge range of certified organic and fair trade chocolate bars, including 100g bars and the smaller snack bars. There’s dark, mint, espresso and now chocolate covered almonds and coffee beans- yum!. While the full size bars are great, it’s the snack sized peanut butter bars that I love.
I was devastated when they stopped making the almond butter bar and replaced it with some sort of non-vegan alternative, so I’m still hoping that Camino will bring it back.
I actually reviewed the PB snack bar a couple of years ago over on the NCVA blog. They’re available at natural food stores, terra20, and various other places.
Another amazing fair trade brand with neat vegan options. One time I bought nine of their hazelnut truffle bars at Homesense and yes, I ate them all. They’re only at Winners/Homesense on a spotty basis, but are more consistently found at Ten Thousand Villages. The mint chocolate actually has little flecks of crunchy mint in them, which is delicious! There’s also dark chocolate with raspberries, and apparently there are mint thins but I haven’t seen them around. Divine, I have heard, makes a vegan advent calendar but it sells out quickly and has to be purchased online from the UK.
I’d love to hear about your favourite mindful chocolates!