Chocolate is the ultimate indulgence.
Luckily, you don’t need to sacrifice a good treat if you want to eat in line with your ethics.
Vegan chocolate is on the rise and now there are plenty of other flavours than just dark.
From creamy oat milk chocolate to vitamin-rich raw cacao and moreish sweet treats in between, pebble has rounded up 5 of the best vegan chocolate bars that are ethical and eco-friendly too.
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Quick links to pebble’s fave vegan chocolate brands
Why ethical vegan chocolate matters
Ethical chocolate doesn’t just stop at being vegan.
Truly ethical and vegan chocolate brands consider the impact of the entire chocolate production from bean to bar.
This includes farmers, land use and all those who are involved in every step of the production process.
Huge chocolate companies dominate the market and keep the price of cocoa as low as possible.
As a result, farmers are paid very little (less than $1 a day!) and forced into poverty.
This leads to corners being cut, illegal working conditions and child and slave labour to keep their prices competitive.
One of the hardest-hit parts of the world is Western Africa where about 70% of the world’s cocoa is produced and sold to big-name companies including Mars and Nestlé.
Child labour, in particular, has been found in cocoa farms in Cameroon, Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone but it’s been most prevalent in Ghana and the Ivory Coast.
In fact, 2.1 million children in the Ivory Coast and Ghana work on cocoa farms.
Many begin working at a young age to support their families while others have been groomed or abducted by traffickers with reports of children being sold to cocoa farms for $34 a child.
It’s not just a problem in Western Africa, though.
It’s thought that these human rights abuses are still more widespread with reports of child labour and slavery in Brazil.
What is the environmental impact of vegan chocolate?
Farmers are forced to clear vast amounts of land to grow even more crops in an attempt to increase the meagre payments, contributing to deforestation.
Even if there’s one form of abuse or mistreatment in its production can a vegan chocolate bar really be called ethical whether or not it contains animal products?
Luckily, an increasing number of chocolate brands are standing up for change.
They produce slave and child labour free chocolate sourced from well-paid farmers that have the resources to implement sustainable farming practices.
Good quality chocolate that’s fairer, greener and 100% vegan from bean to bar. We like.
So, add some positive change to your chocolate fix this year with pebble’s favourite five ethical and vegan chocolate bars in the UK.
5 Of The Best Vegan Chocolate Bars For An Ethical Indulgence
1. Best creamy vegan chocolate bar: H!P (Happiness in Plants)
Founded by James Cadbury (yep, the great-great-great-grandson of John Cadbury), H!P – full name Happiness In Plants – is a fairly new vegan chocolate brand on the scene and it’s taken the industry by storm.
Hailed for its creamy flavour, H!P uses oat milk combined with 41% single-origin Colombian cocoa to create a moreish treat that hits the spot.
Ideal for vegan chocoholics who are craving a creamy taste without the dairy, H!P has four flavours to choose from including Creamy Original, Cookies No Cream, Salted Caramel and Salty Pretzel.
The pebble team particularly likes that the brand’s ethics don’t just stop at the chocolate quality.
The packaging that each bar is wrapped in is also plastic free, recyclable and compostable which makes this chocolate kind to animals, humans and the planet.
Taste test: Creamy, moreish and not too crystallised (some milk vegan chocolate can feel crumbly). It’s also satisfyingly thick, some vegan chocolate comes in very thin slabs.
Pros: Vegan friendly | Creamy taste | Slave-free | Plastic free packaging | Transparent supply chain
Cons: Not Fairtrade | Small flavour section | Not certified organic
Vegan chocolate bars start from £3.00. View on H!P.
2. Best vegan chocolate flavours: Happi
Another fan of oat milk for creamy vegan chocolate is Happi Free From. All of the chocolate in its range is 100% slave and child labour free.
Happi buys directly from farmers and buyers with a direct ‘farm-to-bar’ supply chain so it can see who grows its chocolate and how much they get paid.
On top of that Happi’s chocolate is gluten free and soya free as well as, of course, dairy free.
What’s more, the chocolate’s higher cacao content (47%) means it contains 35% less sugar than other leading brands.
All packaging is made from sustainable sources and is fully recyclable too so it’s an ideal choice for those wanting a solid ‘guilt-free’ option.
Another reason why pebble loves Happi is that it has a fairly sizable range of plant based chocolate flavours to choose from.
Go for a classic M!lk chocolate or branch out into Orange, White Chocolate & Raspberry or Salted Caramel.
Taste test: The M!lk option is my absolute favourite. Happi gets the whole milk chocolate vibe bang on – there’s nothing you’re missing here from it being vegan. Would buy again and again.
Pros: Slave free | Plastic free | 35% less sugar | Gluten and soya free | Vegan-friendly | Transparent supply chain | good quality flavours
Cons: Not Fairtrade | Not certified organic | Can only buy chocolate bar bundles on the website
Bundles 4 x 40g start from £7.00 for a vegan chocolate delivery. View on Happi.
3. Best vegan friendly chocolate for change: Tony’s Chocolonely
Chocolate that fights to end slavery gets a big thumbs up from the pebble team and that’s what Tony’s Chocolonely is all about.
The brand is on a mission to make 100% slave free chocolate the norm by raising awareness, supporting farmers, making chocolate with traceable cocoa and pushing for policy changes in vulnerable communities.
Some of the hardest-hit places it works in include Ghana and Ivory Coast where millions of children work under illegal conditions.
You can see the impact that each chocolate bar has right down to the number of cocoa beans it contains.
Most of Tony’s Chocolonely’s bars aren’t vegan but the brand makes up for it with its seriously rich 70% extra dark chocolate for those who like a more savoury treat.
The dark almond sea salt is perfect for those who prefer added texture and crunch.
Taste test: Tony’s Chocoloney is one of my favourite non vegan brands and this new vegan bar doesn’t disappoint. Chunky, thick, rich dark chocolate hits the spot. But you can only have a little at a time. A grown up vegan treat.
Pros: Slave-free and committed to ending slavery in the chocolate industry | Fairtrade | Transparent supply chain | Plastic free packaging | Option to personalise your chocolate bar
Cons: Not an all-vegan chocolate brand | Small range | Not suitable for those who don’t like dark chocolate
Dark Almond Sea Salt and Extra Dark Chocolate bars are priced at £3.98. View on Tony’s Chocolonely.
4. Best healthy vegan chocolate: Raw Chocolate Company
Looking for an indulgent treat that’s good for you too? Meet Raw Chocolate Company.
Just as its name suggests, the brand specialises in raw chocolate made with organic and minimally processed cacao.
So, what does raw mean? It’s essentially food that hasn’t been heated to above 42 degrees to help preserve as much of the vitamins and nutrients as possible.
In this case, Raw Chocolate Company uses high-quality vegan ingredients to create delicious, award-winning bars that do more than give you a sugar rush. They’re nutritious too.
Perfect for people who want a healthy kick to their indulgence, flavours come in a modest but delicious range including the popular Vanoffee, M*lk Chocolate, Peruvian 72% Cacao, Vanoffee Hazelnut and Caffé Mocha.
The pebble team also likes the brand’s tree planting project in Peru where it sources its cacao.
Taste test: Rich and dark, you don’t need a lot of it to hit the spot. Some may find it a little bitter in comparison to other types of chocolate but the premium quality ingredients and health benefits make this chocolate a snack worth having.
Pros: Certified organic ingredients | Vegan friendly | Supports tree planting initiatives | Packaging the chocolate is wrapped in is plastic free
Cons: pebble would like to see more information about the health benefits of raw cacao on the website | Some complaints that the deliveries contain plastic
Chocolate bars start from £2.99. View on Raw Chocolate Company.
5. Best luxury vegan chocolate: Pacari
This allows over 50% of the wealth from growing cacao beans to stay in the country of origin and contribute to its development.
Pacari works directly with local farmers, paying them 60% more than the local average price to help them improve their livelihoods and protect the environment.
The pebble team is particularly impressed with its partnership with WWF Ecuador which works to support a sustainable livelihood for indigenous communities in Cuyabeno in the Ecuadorian Amazon.
Best suited to those who want to push the boat out with their chocolate and go beyond safer vegan milk options, Pacari is known for its strong and interesting flavours.
Take its chocolate-covered fruit range for example, or try a bar with Goldenberry, Andean Roses, Allspice or Cardamon flavours. You can get relatively safe flavours too.
Taste test: I can’t get enough of Pacari’s adventurous flavours. They’re definitely something to try if you’re keen to go beyond dark or vegan milk. It’s definitely a grown-up treat for the snack cupboard.
Pros: B Corp certified | Fairtrade certified | 100% recyclable and compostable packaging | Plastic free | Healthier choice | Adventurous flavours | Partnership with WWF Ecuador
Cons: Relatively expensive | Some flavours may be too overpowering for some
Chocolate bar prices start from £3.69. View on eTHikel.
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