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Veg4Life
Jul 13th, 2008, 03:41 AM
My husband came home all excited from Trader Joes with a 1 pound bar of chocolate for me that after reading the label, he thinks is vegan. The ingredients are:

cocoa mass
sugar
almonds
cocoa butter
soy lecithin
cocoa solids (54% min)

I know this doesn't sound very HEALTHY...but chocolate was a love of mine pre-vegan (milk chocolate I should say) and if I can find an easily obtainable form of chocolate that isn't ridiculously expensive, I'd be so grateful!

Does this look vegan? If not, do you know of any vegan chocolate (other than dark- not a dark chocolate fan)?

mariana
Jul 13th, 2008, 05:15 AM
That looks vegan to me! Are you sure it's not dark chocolate, though? A lot of vegan chocolate is dark. If you want a milk chocolate substitute, Terra Nostra ricemilk choco is really good (but kinda pricey--I only buy it as an occasional treat). If you want something in between dark chocolate and milk chocolate, I'm a fan of bittersweet chocolate. Ghirardelli makes good bittersweet chocolate chips, and Lindt does a bittersweet bar. Both of them are easy to find and relatively inexpensive.

Fuhzy
Jul 13th, 2008, 05:40 AM
Lindt 75% and 85% dark are both vegan. :)

matt35mm
Jul 13th, 2008, 05:48 AM
EAT IT!

I would.

And I also would say it's perfectly healthy as long as you don't eat the whole pound at once. The sugar is the only unhealthy part of it, but cocoa and almonds are the healthiest foods in the world. For true.

exec
Jul 13th, 2008, 06:31 AM
What is cocoa butter anyway?

Veg4Life
Jul 13th, 2008, 07:35 AM
Thanks everyone for your replies- yes, it says bittersweet chocolate right on the front- so for those of you who have a trader joes they apparently have a bittersweet and dark vegan chocolate. Great find! I'll let you know how I like it. :)

Korn
Jul 13th, 2008, 10:09 AM
What is cocoa butter anyway?

"Cocoa butter, also called theobroma oil, is the pale-yellow, pure edible vegetable fat of the cacao bean." (Wikipedia).

mariana
Jul 14th, 2008, 06:00 AM
Thanks everyone for your replies- yes, it says bittersweet chocolate right on the front- so for those of you who have a trader joes they apparently have a bittersweet and dark vegan chocolate. Great find! I'll let you know how I like it. :)
Good to know! Let us know if it's tasty (it's chocolate, so it ought to be) :D

Veg4Life
Jul 15th, 2008, 04:55 AM
Oh- it is SO good. I haven't had milk chocolate in 7 plus months and this tastes just as good to me, but better because I know it's healthier and animal friendly. :)

co_jad
Jul 15th, 2008, 07:57 PM
What about the sugar?
How can you be sure it wasn't processed with bone char?

journey
Jul 16th, 2008, 09:50 PM
If you're in the U.S. it's likely that it if it's just labelled as plain sugar that it was processed using bone char. I understand that's not the case in Europe

Korn
Jul 17th, 2008, 10:26 AM
If you're in the U.S. it's likely that it if it's just labelled as plain sugar that it was processed using bone char.

Most likely, it isn't...


Both beet and cane sugar as such is vegan.

No refined sugar contain animal products.

Neither refined or non-refined beet sugar is processed with animal products. According to this article (http://www.vegsource.com/jo/qa/qasugar.htm), half of the white table sugar manufactured in the United States is cane sugar and the other half is beet sugar - and over half of the cane refineries in the United States use bone char (charcoal made from animal bones) as their activated carbon source. 'Over half' of the cane refineries still means less than half of all the sugar in US, because half the sugar in US is beet, and not cane sugar.



According to the Sugar Association and several large sugar producers "all of the cows have died of "natural causes" and do not come from the U.S. meat industry. Bone char cannot be produced or bought in the United States". (More here (http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj97mar/973sugar.htm)).

If no sugar doesn't contain animal products and the process of getting the bones doesn't involve killing or harming any animals, I can't see how sugar shouldn't be vegan, even if "about 25 percent of all white sugar is refined using the animal bone-char process (http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/45207/switching_to_natural_sugar.html?cat=5)".

mariana
Jul 18th, 2008, 12:11 AM
According to the Sugar Association and several large sugar producers "all of the cows have died of "natural causes" and do not come from the U.S. meat industry. Bone char cannot be produced or bought in the United States". (More here (http://www.vrg.org/journal/vj97mar/973sugar.htm)).

Thanks for linking to that article--it was really interesting. I'd never heard that the cows have all died of "natural causes." I wonder if that's really true. At any rate, I don't avoid sugar (when I bake I use unrefined, though), but I do feel a bit better now since the article says beet sugar is more popular than cane sugar in the Midwest, where I live. :)

journey
Jul 20th, 2008, 09:40 PM
Hmmm. Korn, I usually agree with most of your arguments, but think I have to differ on this one.

Thanks for the references though, good to read. The brands listed as using bone char, like Domino, are the primary brands available in my area. Some of the more diverse stores carry the brands that don't use bone char listed in the article, but they're not always as easy to find.

Perhaps whether most of the sugar around us uses bone char or not depends on our locations. Like anything else, I guess we can always call the manufacturer if we're not sure about a brand.

I also think I'd be leary about those claims from what I believe are somewhat poor countries, of cows that all died of natural causes - just sounds suspicious to me. (Even in India cows are killed). Even if it's true though, I personally choose to try to avoid products where animals parts were used in the process. No, I'm not perfect and am sure there are animal products in my computer and car tires, etc. But it's an ideal to shoot for, especially when I can just use a different brand even if I have to look a little further to find it. (Or use agave nectar, etc instead) (I'm not judging anybody else here, just my own ideals).

Also, the article says the bone char used for filtering the sugar is first used in the gelatin industry. I personally choose not to use something that supports the gelatin industry (which does use animal parts).

Maybe this is one of those fine points that various vegans will have different opinions about...

co_jad
Jul 21st, 2008, 02:23 AM
I'm with Journey on this one. I would also add that even if the cows died from "natural" causes i still don't feel like its ok for someone to claim the rights to the body.
But thats just how i feel

mariana
Jul 21st, 2008, 04:29 AM
I also think it's kind of unlikely the cows actually died of "natural causes." It sounds like a line the companies are just trying to feed people to make them happy.

Journey and co_jad, can I ask you what you do when you eat out? I am just curious (I'm not trying to start an argument or anything) because when I am at home I use unrefined sugar, but when I am out I do eat products that contain sugar, for example, soda or lemonade. Sugar is put in a lot of stuff (unfortunately) so when you're at a restaurant, do you avoid, say, a Chinese vegetable dish (that you've been told is vegan) because there's sugar in the sauce?

Korn
Jul 21st, 2008, 09:07 AM
A few more things about vegans and sugar (http://www.veganforum.com/forums/showthread.php?t=812):

My first thought was also that it seems unlikely that those animals had died of natural causes (I'm still not sure if they did, which is why I wrote the "if" I did in that sentece...). If it's correct that "Bone char cannot be produced or bought in the United States", it probably comes from a part of the world where it's cheap to produce, and in many poor countries, bones from dead animals are often seen in nature. Here's what WIkipedia writes about the historical production of sugar in USA:

"During the settlement of the American mid-West in the late 19th Century a large number of buffalo bones, artifacts of an earlier extinction campaign, were a nuisance to the new inhabitants. One way to dispose of them was to sell them for industrial use for around $10 per ton. The payment to bone pickers was often for goods or services rather than cash.
By the end of the 1890's there were fewer remaining buffalo bones and so bone pickers began to raid Indian burial grounds. This practice was eventually stopped after some controversy."


Bone char may be used in water filtering processes, in oil refineries, and sometimes in painting.

If you want to be sure that you avoid products that have been produced or transported in a way that involves animal products, you need to climb up a tree and stay there. :) Since bone char may be used in producing oil, it may be used in producing car wheels, car oil, roads, sidewalks and everything colored black. Wouldn't it be good if we avoided cars, oil and sugar? And steel and vulcanized rubber, which apparently are produced with animal fats? Sure, but we don't live in a vegan world, so living a life without getting in touch with a product that has seen an animal product in the process of making it is totally impossible.

Using animal products intentionally or intentionally in one situation isn't a valid excuse for using animal products in another situation - but the aspect of 'avoiding animal products as much as practical and possible' is relevant here. It is possible to avoid using chocolate with sugar (eg. by avoiding chocolate altogether, if you live in a place where chocolate without refined sugar isn't available). It's easier to do this than to avoid everything that has involved cars or black paint or water that has been passing a water filter. Maybe it's possible to avoid water that has been filtered with char coal as well, but while it may be theoretically possible to do that for the rest of your life, how long are people willing to remain vegans if they feel that it requires that they avoid everything with oil, black, water or sugar?

Now - sugar is the easiest part: don't buy white sugar (for a number of reasons), and if you come across white sugar in other products, make a firm decision about how to deal with it:

You can either,.

1) Avoid it
2) Buy it, but contact the manufacturer and suggest that they rather use sugar not bleached with boce char
3) Buy it, and tell yourself that this is how far you are going to take the 'as much practical and possible' element built into the definition of vegan, at least for that day/month/year
4) Buy it and feel guilty about it. Nor recommended. You may end up disliking both yourself and your veganism, plus others may pick up your worries and think that vegans worry too much, feel guilty too much and can't possibly be happy - or last long.

I guess my main concern is to encourage people to use the 'as much as practical and possible' term in such a way that it doesn't turn them away from being vegan. If you want chocolate, and there's one type in the shop you are in that doesn't contain milk, and it says sugar on the package - how many vegans would pick up a phone, call the manufacturer, ask where the sugar comes from, and call the sugar manufacturer and ask if bone char has been used in the bleaching process? Very few. Secondly: in a country with a low percentage of vegans, and an even lower percentage of vegans who avoid the odd product with sugar that contain sugar that may be come from cane sugar, and may be processed with bone char from animals that may have died from natural courses anyway..... how much would the local sugar industry care if this tiny group of people (less than a percent) would buy another chocolate instead? Not at all, I'm afraid.

Still: contacting them and ask them to avoid animal products may have an effect, and will have an effect if enough people do it. If I tell people that minor boycotts won't have an effect, I'm stopping an ongoing growth of people who protest against use of animal products, and I certainly don't want that, because then a minor boycott less likely will become a major boycott.

Personally, I don't use refined (white) sugar, refined (white) salt, or white rice at home - and didn't do that when when I was a lacto-vegetarian either. There are many reasons to avoid refined products (lots of meat eaters do this as well), and I think it's a good idea to contact manufacturers directly about animal products when in doubt, but at the same time, I'd like to warn people against turning on the Worry-button too often, and assume or claim that something 'likely' contains animal products to the degree that they in a few months or a couple of years won't be vegans anymore ("'it's was too difficult"). Most of the time, it's only as difficult as we want it to be.

In a number of countries, like Australia, sugar has never been bleached with bone char, and even in USA, the available refined sugar you come across most likely isn't. Instead of using some sugar in a product and feel guilty about it, wouldn't it be better to either avoid white sugar totally, or to contact the manufacturers in question and ask them if animal products are used in the process, or if the animals died of natural causes? Guilt is such a useless feeling...

When enough people go vegan, the use of animal products will slowly decrease anyway - but enough people won't go vegan if they assume that they need to check every product (including products that don't contain animal products, like refined sugar, tap water or oil) and how it has been produced and transported, or how the water used in the process was filtered. Let's rather get as 'real' as possible, acknowledge that we live in a non-vegan society, and focus on the most important stuff - most of the time.

It's IMO better to rather use the energy that comes with possible worries that may pop up to contact the manufacturers directly and tell them that you would like a product where animals haven't been used in the production process than to get grey hairs over doing something that you feel guilty about (or feel guilty that you don't even feel guilty about!). :)

co_jad
Jul 21st, 2008, 04:29 PM
Very insightful Korn. You make some great points and i respect them all.
I recognize the fact that we all live in a non-Vegan society, and that one can never live a 100% Vegan lifestyle while living within and a part of such a society.

Marianna- When i "go out" and eat the only places i go offer 100% vegan and raw options so its never a worry. I'm lucky to live in an area that is aware of the demand that local vegans place fourth.
As far as drinking things like soda or lemonade... The answer is simple. If i don't know whats it it, or cant easily find out. I don't put it in my body.

journey
Jul 21st, 2008, 06:56 PM
Yes, Korn, you did make a lot of good points. Yes, it would be difficult to eliminate all the oil-based things in our lives - some we could cut back on, but it is hard to avoid road surfaces, sidewalks, car tires, etc. For me, sugar is something I can fairly easily avoid, so why not. As you say, for the most part, it's practical and possible for me to avoid sugar.

I'd actually been avoiding sugar for a long time before becoming vegan anyway (don't really need the extra weight it puts on), so it's actually a prior-to-being vegan thing for me.

I usually don't eat sugary dishes when I eat out. I drink diet soda or water. So for the most part it's not even much of an issue. However, I did say I'm not perfect - I'm sure there may be sugar from time to time in something I've ordered (at home if I want something sweet I use sugar substitutes - agave nectar, applesauce, etc.) in a restaurant, but for the most part I'm not usually eating things that I would expect to have sugar in them. If you're avoiding the cakes, etc. because of the dairy and eggs, I think you're also automatically avoiding a lot of the sugary desserts).

However, I did find some yummy fair trade vegan chocolate in REI (our oudoor hiking outfitters type store) without the possibly bone-char processed sugar - for those special treats. (It didn't last long). And I know there are a number of brands available, depending where you live (or through Internet / mail-order anywhere). Definately no need to give up yummy treats because you're vegan.

mariana
Jul 21st, 2008, 07:45 PM
Marianna- When i "go out" and eat the only places i go offer 100% vegan and raw options so its never a worry. I'm lucky to live in an area that is aware of the demand that local vegans place fourth.
As far as drinking things like soda or lemonade... The answer is simple. If i don't know whats it it, or cant easily find out. I don't put it in my body.
I see, thanks, co_jad! You're lucky to live in an area like that. My area's pretty good for vegans in some ways, but unfortunately I don't think restaurants are aware of the sugar issue (I think even the "health food" store sometimes puts refined sugar in their vegan products).

co_jad
Jul 22nd, 2008, 11:33 PM
Yes, Korn, you did make a lot of good points. Yes, it would be difficult to eliminate all the oil-based things in our lives - some we could cut back on, but it is hard to avoid road surfaces, sidewalks, car tires, etc. For me, sugar is something I can fairly easily avoid, so why not. As you say, for the most part, it's practical and possible for me to avoid sugar.

I'd actually been avoiding sugar for a long time before becoming vegan anyway (don't really need the extra weight it puts on), so it's actually a prior-to-being vegan thing for me.

I usually don't eat sugary dishes when I eat out. I drink diet soda or water. So for the most part it's not even much of an issue. However, I did say I'm not perfect - I'm sure there may be sugar from time to time in something I've ordered (at home if I want something sweet I use sugar substitutes - agave nectar, applesauce, etc.) in a restaurant, but for the most part I'm not usually eating things that I would expect to have sugar in them. If you're avoiding the cakes, etc. because of the dairy and eggs, I think you're also automatically avoiding a lot of the sugary desserts).

However, I did find some yummy fair trade vegan chocolate in REI (our oudoor hiking outfitters type store) without the possibly bone-char processed sugar - for those special treats. (It didn't last long). And I know there are a number of brands available, depending where you live (or through Internet / mail-order anywhere). Definately no need to give up yummy treats because you're vegan.

Journey:
I'm just curious if you know what kind of chocolate you had from REI?
I bought one with almonds on my break the other day and it was delicious. (i work for REI btw)

Anywho.. Cheers to Vegan Chocolate. :D

journey
Jul 25th, 2008, 12:13 AM
The brand name seems to be Fair Exchange - the organic dark, and the organic very dark chocolate. As far as I can tell it's vegan - organic unrefined cane sugar, and organic raw cane sugar are listed - I think those are the vegan ones.