Is Cocoa Butter Vegan?

An essential ingredient of chocolate – it is safe to say that cocoa butter is one of the most enriching and important ingredients in existence.

However, before you sign yourself to a life of cocoa butter and chocolate, if you are someone who adheres to a vegan diet, any food product with the word “butter” in its name is a clever one to question. 

Is Cocoa Butter Vegan

Cocoa butter is an oil that is derived from the cacao tree.

Though endemic to the Amazonian region of South America, the world’s insatiable desire for chocolate has meant that cacao trees are now grown in every humid and tropical region of the world.

This article is here to fill you in on whether cocoa butter and the food products it features are in fact vegan. 

What Is Cocoa Butter?

As we pointed out in the introduction, cocoa butter is derived from cacao trees, but what exactly does that mean?

Well, cocoa butter is actually pale yellow fat that is extracted from the seeds of the cacao tree, which are commonly referred to as cocoa beans.

For centuries, humans have eaten cocoa butter as both food and medicine. Because of its high antioxidant content, cocoa butter is still, to this day, used to ward off illness and ailments in Amazonian tribes and western cultures alike. 

Cocoa butter is prized for its rich flavor that can be transformed into chocolate. Making cocoa butter involves harvesting fresh cocoa beans and then fermenting them.

Once fermented they are dried and roasted to give them the bitterly deep flavor that we know and love.

Once roasted, the oil of the cocoa beans is taken out of the bean to make cocoa butter. What is left is then ground down to make cocoa butter.

Is Cocoa Butter Vegan?

Now to answer your burning question as to whether or not, cocoa butter is vegan.

You will be pleased to know that cocoa butter in its pure state does not contain any product or ingredient that is derived from animals.

From sourcing through production and distribution, cocoa butter is entirely plant-based yumminess. 

Veganism is a decisive choice in life not to eat or use any product that has exploited animals in any way shape or form on its journey to being made.

This means any food product that has meat, dairy, eggs, and, honey in it can not be eaten by a person sticking to a vegan diet and way of life.

Thankfully, cocoa butter has no trace of such animal-derived products. 

However, that being said, the cocoa butter in its most natural form is rarely consumed here in the U.S.

Typically, cocoa butter is added to food products like chocolate with a whole list of other ingredients which may or may not be vegan.

That’s why it is important to look further into how you are consuming cocoa butter and whether or not there are animal-derived ingredients slipped in there somewhere. 

What Cocoa Butter Products Contain Animal-Derived Ingredients?

What Cocoa Butter Products Contain Animal-Derived Ingredients?

While cocoa butter doesn’t contain any animal-derived ingredients itself, more often than not, the foods that it features in do.

The most common and popular food product that cocoa butter is put into is chocolate. Do you know what else goes into chocolate to make it all creamy and delicious?

If you answered dairy, you would be correct.

Milk and white chocolate are two chocolate types that, unfortunately, are both not suitable for people who eat vegan.

This is because milk and white chocolate have condensed or powdered milk in them.

On top of milk and white chocolate, cocoa butter is also included in a whole range of chocolate baked goods, chocolate-coated candy, and chocolate bars.

Again, these products will likely have some form of dairy derivate. What they may also have is other non-suitable vegan ingredients like eggs, honey, whey, lactose, casein, carmine, cochineal, and gelatin.

The best thing to do if you love your chocolate-ey treats and are vegan is to always source clearly labeled “vegan-friendly” foods. 

What Cocoa Butter Products Don’t Contain Animal-Derived Ingredients?

While it is certainly true that the majority of cocoa butter products contain some form of an animal-derived ingredient or another, this isn’t the case for all of them.

It’s not all doom, gloom, and dairy on the chocolate front, as there is one type of chocolate that skips the dairy to be vegan-friendly by default.

Dark chocolate is made of cocoa butter and sugar which is why it is both dairy-free and vegan.

Is Cocoa Powder Vegan?

Just like cocoa butter, pure cocoa powder is 100% vegan. Pure cocoa powder is a high-grade food that is expensive by anyone’s standards.

If you see cheap cocoa powder for sale at your local store, chances are it will not be pure.

Cocoa powder that is not pure and not labeled as such will have a sweetening agent added to it, with sugar being the most likely candidate.

This poses a problem for vegans as sugar can often be refined by way of animal bone char.

Another easy mistake to make and watch out for is buying products that label themselves as “instant cocoa powder”.

Nine times out of ten, instant cocoa powder products will feature a milk derivate like milk powder, and therefore, they won’t be vegan. 

Conclusion

The bottom line on both cocoa butter and cocoa powder are to only source the pure stuff.

If you see a packet of either that is suspiciously cheap, chances are, it will have some kind of animal-derived ingredient in it.

Another hot tip is to always seek out chocolate products that are proudly vegan.

Even some dark chocolates can have milk derivates in them.

Vegan-friendly chocolate, whereas, strictly does not. We hope this hasn’t put you off chocolate, more inspired you to seek out the good and pure stuff. 

Clara Howie
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