Being a vegan can make you wary of so many different products. You never really know which items are truly 100% vegan.
You would be surprised by how many products that would seem vegan friendly, actually are not!
This is why we are here to help you with our guides of which foods, products and items are suitable for a vegan diet and lifestyle!
One of the biggest questions we get asked is whether cocoa butter and cocoa powders are actually vegan or not.
Are Cocoa Butter and Cocoa Powder Vegan?
Due to the fact that the term cocoa butter has the word butter right in the name, you may be questioning whether using this would go against your vegan values and beliefs. Luckily cocoa butter does not actually contain regular butter.
By this, we mean that cocoa butter is not made from dairy products or animal by products, and is completely 100% vegan. In this sense, cocoa butter is similar in nature to almond butter and coconut butter, which are 100% vegan friendly, just like cocoa butter is.
This is because cocoa butter is extracted from the cocoa bean, which grows on a plant. This makes cocoa butter a plant based product, and therefore suitable for vegans and vegetarians.
In addition, it is important to note that cocoa powder is also derived from the cocoa bean, which means that it is also vegan friendly, and plant-based too! This is also why most chocolate that is made up of mainly cocoa solids are 100% vegan friendly!
Vegan Cocoa Butter
Vegan Cocoa Powder
Therefore, both cocoa powder and cocoa butter are suitable for vegans.
Are There Reasons Why Cocoa Products Might Not Be Vegan?
Whilst the ingredients in cocoa butter and cocoa powder are 100% vegan, you may be wondering whether these products are morally suitable for your beliefs, or if they are ethically sourced.
In addition, you may have to be wary around various additives or ingredients that may be added to the mix that would go against your vegan beliefs.
Is it 100% Cocoa?
Your best bet in purchasing products containing cocoa is to stick to ones that are 100% or as close as possible to this percentage. This lessens the risk of other ingredients being added into your products, which may not be 100% plant based. That being said, for the most part, all cocoa powder and cocoa butter products have no reason to include animal ingredients, or animal derivatives in their manufacturing processes, as they are naturally vegan.
The best way to enjoy using both cocoa powder and cocoa butter is to be vigilant about the ingredient list. However, cocoa powder and cocoa butter are naturally occurring products which are 100% plant based, so you can enjoy them guilt free!
The Additives in Cocoa Powder
As we previously mentioned, you will want to stay as close to the pure cocoa powder and cocoa butter products as possible, as if you do not, you run the risk of other additives being placed in to fill out the products. This typically happens in cheaper or less expensive options, as some sweeteners or sugars may have been added.
In some cases, sugars are whitened with charred animal bones to make the color brighter, which would make this non vegan, and unsuitable for your diet and lifestyle.
In addition, you may want to be wary of hot cocoa drinks, as these can often contain milk or milk derivatives, so stick to pure cocoa powder to avoid any cross contamination or confusion.
What Are Some Of The Ethical Issues With Cocoa Products?
You may also be wondering whether cocoa powder and cocoa butter are ethically sourced and the cocoa beans are farmed in a manner that aligns with your moral beliefs. Whilst veganism pertains to the need to avoid cruelty to animals, some vegans may include human exploitation in this definition.
Therefore, you will want to ensure that your foods, products and goods are made, sourced and produced in a way that is ethical and fair. Humans, after all are also animals, and you may want to avoid buying products that are considered cruel to humans too.
Food Empowerment Project
The Food Empowerment Project works to ensure that global chocolate and cocoa brands are ethically sourced and produced. This means that there is no exploitation of the people who farm the cocoa beans, or create the chocolate and cocoa products that we enjoy.
The Food Empowerment Project has provided a list of chocolate brands that are ethically made, and can be comfortably enjoyed by you guilt free: https://foodispower.org/chocolate-list/. Some of these include firm favorites such as Hotel Chocolat, Cocoa Loco and many others, that even offer vegan options for your enjoyment.
In addition, you may want to consider sticking to cocoa products and chocolates that are labelled as FairTrade, as these will also be safe, and ethical.
It is so vital that you consider the above lists, and FairTrade products, as in many countries where chocolate and cocoa products are farmed, the practice of child labor is still enforced. In addition, workers can be paid so little to farm for large cocoa producing companies, that we could compare this to slave labor.
As a vegan, you would most likely care about all living creatures, including humans, and purchasing items derived from child labor would inherently go against your moral compass, especially if you look at this from an ethical perspective.
Child labor is often used in places such as West Africa, where most of the world’s cocoa is produced, which could pose an issue if you want to lead an ethical lifestlye. This is why it is so vital that you do your research on the brands that you use. Check the list above from the Food Empowerment Project, or ensure that your cocoa products are ethically sourced and FairTrade before purchasing to ensure that no one has been exploited to create the product.
However, as is often the case, whether you choose to eat or enjoy any cocoa products, no matter where they come from, or how they were made, depends on your personal beliefs, moral beliefs and your own definition of veganism.
Sometimes, it can be hard to avoid all non vegan products, or you may not know that you have purchased a product that is not completely 100% vegan, which can be okay, as you are already making a conscious choice to avoid animal derived products and ingredients to save the environment, and prevent animal cruelty.
Where Do Cocoa Powders and Cocoa Butters Come From?
You may be wondering where cocoa butter and powders come from, and how they could possibly be plant based. Luckily, we are here to help, and give you all of the information that you need!
Cocoa and Cacao
Cocoa and cacao both come from the cocoa plant, and they generally mean the same thing. The cocoa plant is also known as the cocoa tree, which is where cocoa butter and cocoa powders are derived from! The cocoa plant’s real name is theobroma cacao, which comes from the word theobroma in Greek, which actually means food of the gods.
Chocolate is created when the cocoa beans from the cocoa plant, along with the pulp are fermented, roasted and ground up, before sugar is added to create a silky smooth texture, and the chocolate that we know today.
Cocoa butter is formed by fermented and dried cocoa beans, and is actually a pale fat that is made up of fatty acids. This fat comes from the cocoa beans after they are roasted, stripped and pressed to get out the fat, which gives us the creamy texture of cocoa butter. This is often used in creams and moisturizers for its smooth texture.
Cocoa powder is made from cocoa solids from the cocoa tree. Cocoa powder is typically brown in color, as it is made from the ground up cocoa beans that have already been used for butter extraction. Cocoa powder can be very good for your health, full of natural minerals such as iron, even more reason to consume it!
To summarise, both cocoa butter and cocoa powder, generally are 100% vegan friendly, as they are made with cocoa beans, which are derived from the cocoa plant. This makes them plant-based and suitable for a vegan diet and lifestyle.