Veganuary has arrived once again, and now is the time where many questions come to mind as we consider the global movement and what it means for those of us who are curious about taking part. Many of us find ourselves scrolling vegan accounts and articles for inspiration, and scratching our heads at the sight of vegan recipes… Why is there beetroot in this cake recipe? What’s quinoa? How do I pronounce it?
And more often, we find ourselves seeking the advice of vegan friends and colleagues to uncover the truth about how hard it is to make the switch from their normal lifestyle to one that’s plant-powered, particularly where our tummies are concerned. For many, it’s easy to feel turned off the idea with the misconception that you have to sacrifice good food and sweet treats altogether for the duration of the month. But don’t fret - we have good news! Turns out, this assumption couldn’t be further from the truth with the number of meat alternatives, vegan chocolate treats, desserts, and goodies which are now available following the years of increased demand for vegan alternatives.
So, if you’re still on the fence about whether to give it a try this January, don’t write it off just yet. We’re going to explore some of the popular questions surrounding a plant-based diet and help you to identify what’s on the menu for you this Veganuary (and it’s not just vegetables, phew!). And just before we get started, you’ll be relieved to know, a plant-based diet can still involve plenty of chocolatey goodness – hoorah!
What is Veganuary?
The wave of veganism has given the month of January an entirely new meaning. The annual challenge of Veganuary sees people from all over the world partaking in the pledge to eat a plant-based diet throughout the first month of the year. The core focus of the non-profit organisation is to protect both animals and the environment by championing a vegan diet, but also to improve personal health for all participants.
The first Veganuary campaign began in 2014, and the event now achieves thousands of sign-ups every year from those who are eager to join the plant-based revolution and make a difference by making compassionate food choices throughout the month of January. As a result of the annual challenge, there has been a surge in the accessibility of vegan food, with meat-free alternatives acquiring their own section in the supermarkets and healthy vegan recipes becoming highly demanded by web users and cookbook fanatics alike.
However, contrary to popular belief, a more eco-conscious diet doesn’t mean you have to deprive yourself of sweet treats altogether. You can still enjoy many things which are naughty but nice thanks to the ongoing development of plant-powered treats to satiate the sweet-toothed amongst the vegan community. There is now an incredible variety of sweets and snacks available on the market, including biscuits, chewy sweets (think Starbursts and Skittles!), protein bars, and of course, plenty of chocolatey treats. Many of these confectionery products are made using organic and natural ingredients only, so they’re perfectly suitable for vegan diets, and they’re equally popular amongst non-vegans too.
What chocolate can you eat if you’re vegan?
It might surprise you, but many non-vegans have more than likely already enjoyed vegan chocolate without realising it. In fact, many high percentage cocoa products are often vegan because they do not contain dairy products, such as milk, which is a key ingredient in milk and white chocolate. Therefore, a number of dark chocolate bars are naturally suitable for vegans because they are free from animal products. However, it is always worth checking a product for the Vegan symbol, and you should double check the ingredients on any dark chocolate products to ensure it is vegan-friendly before consumption.
Although dark chocolate is the first type of chocolate that comes to mind when we think of Vegan-approved confectionery, we know it’s not for everyone. Its intensity can be a little overwhelming for those who prefer their treats on the sweeter side. Fortunately, the chocolate wizards of the world (including our very own here at Cocoba) have invented the vegan ‘milk’ chocolate bar.
Vegan milk chocolate is still a term that’s unfamiliar to some, so if you haven’t heard of it yet, you might be wondering how any milk chocolate can be vegan. So, allow us to explain!
Given the increased demand and subsequent popularity of vegan chocolate, our expert chocolatiers have crafted a delicious selection of Vegan Chocolate Bars, taking extra care to use vegan-friendly ingredients only*. Our vegan ‘milk’ chocolate bars have been refined using a dairy free alternative and tempered carefully to replicate the smooth texture of milk chocolate, without compromising the subtle sweetness or flavour that is offered in our Belgian chocolate bars. Since launching our latest additions to the range, our Vegan Chocolate collection has grown in popularity, with many fanatics including our chocolate bars in their homemade vegan recipes.
Can you drink hot chocolate if you’re vegan?
Absolutely! It is possible to achieve a delicious hot chocolate with a creamy texture without any of the dairy ingredients, and it’s actually easier than you might think.
Our team here at Cocoba are dedicated to delivering exceptional quality drinking chocolate, and that includes vegan drinking chocolate too! So, we've developed a selection of vegan hot chocolate products that are dairy free and no less delicious, including Vegan Hot Chocolate Bombes, and a number of Vegan Hot Chocolate Spoons too.
How do I make a vegan hot chocolate?
To ensure our customers can get the most out of their Vegan Hot Chocolate, we put each of our hot chocolate types to the test to explore the best milk alternative and method for each kind. You can read the full blog on How to Make the Perfect Vegan Hot Chocolate to learn the art of making hot chocolate like a true barista, but for now, we recommend pairing your hot chocolate with oat milk to achieve the creamiest consistency with an indulgent mouthfeel. However, we did also find that nut-based milks worked just as well with our Vegan Drinking Chocolate range to compliment the cocoa notes with a hint of nutty flavour. Yum!
When it comes to the method, this really depends on the type of hot chocolate you’ve opted for. A spoon is delightfully straightforward and can be stirred directly into a mug of heated milk, which makes our Vegan Hot Chocolate Spoons great for when you fancy a fuss-free single serving. Similarly, our Vegan Hot Chocolate Bombe simply needs to be added to a mug, then brought to life with the addition of heated plant or nut milk. However, the key to getting this step right is all in the milk and how you heat it.
With alternatives to dairy milk, it’s important to take care when turning the heat up. Many hot chocolate fanatics tend to heat milk on a hob, which works great as long as you apply heat slowly and stir gently. However, you must be careful not to overheat the milk alternative as it can split at high temperatures – a problem which is unfortunately quite easy to run into when heating milk on a gas hob!
Likewise, if heating your milk in a microwave, it’s best to adjust the power setting if you can rather than heating on full power, and be mindful that different plant milks have different cooking points.
However, when making hot chocolate with Drinking Chocolate Flakes, many chocoholics prefer to tap into their creative side with the use of a milk frothing device, such as a Dualit Milk Frother. This is a great way to liven up your homemade hot chocolates with a velvety texture, with the perfect drinking temperature being reached in just a couple of minutes.
Although the typical approach of adding milk and flakes to the Dualit is blissfully straightforward, we would like to highlight that when using the cold froth setting on a Dualit, we do not recommend adding your flakes directly to the Dualit device as this will not melt the chocolate shavings. It is essential that you form a thick chocolate paste first before adding hot milk to ensure that your hot chocolate is free from lumps and to maximise its deliciousness!
We hope these answers help you to enjoy your chocolate treats this Veganuary as you navigate your way through the month-long lifestyle change. Or if you're still on the fence about whether to take part, we hope you feel clearer on where you stand when it comes to getting your chocolate fix (and feel a sense of relief that you don't have to go without it!). Irregardless, whether you're in or out, we know that vegans and non-vegans alike adore our vegan hot chocolate range and chocolate bars, and we hope you will too!
*Please note: Although we believe our dairy-free milk chocolate alternative is suitable for vegans, it is worth noting that it is made in the same environment as our milk chocolate, so we therefore cannot guarantee it is free from milk traces.