Jojo has lived in Brighton for 12 years and has been vegan for over a decade. She’s been travelling for the last 18 months but comes back to eat her way around Brighton as often as possible. Jojo writes the travel, food, and lifestyle blog Vegan in Brighton and is the travel agony aunt at Driftwood Magazine. She dabbles in zine making, wants to stroke every dog, is a self described angry feminist, and she dreams of opening an animal sanctuary one day.
As a vegan I believe that opting for vegan chocolate is best for animals but it took me a while to realise that even dairy-free chocolate isn’t inherently cruelty-free. What about the people involved in the production of our favourite sweet treat?
The Food Empowerment Project are an organisation working to raise awareness of how our food choices can change the world and they opened my eyes to the fact that child labour and slavery are still a part of modern day chocolate production. More than 70% of the world’s cocoa is grown and harvested on cocoa farms in Western Africa and, as the demand for cheap chocolate grows, the conditions cocoa farmers are living in are declining. The average cocoa farmer earns less than $2 a day, well below the poverty line, and because of this, often resorts to the use of child labour to keep costs down. Children are often sold to traffickers and studies have shown that human trafficking is rife, particularly on the Ivory Coast.
Chocolate companies have the power to pay cocoa farmers a living wage which in turn would end the use of child and slave labour but until that time I’m glad that I’m able to look beyond my veganism and make informed, ethical, purchasing decisions. Thankfully Inﬁnity Foods make it easy for you to shop with your ethics at the forefront of your shopping list. They have a wealth of truly cruelty free choices lining the shelves of their North Laine store. Options range from sophisticated trufﬂes and dairy, gluten, and soy free ice creams from British company Booja Booja, to healthy, reﬁned sugar free, chocolatey Alphabites cereal from Bear which both adults and children are sure to enjoy.
Brands like Divine, Montezumas, Vivani, and Seed and Bean have you covered if you want to chow down on a classic chocolate bar – I’m a huge fan of Seed and Bean’s Cornish Sea Salt bar, and Montezuma’s are British made and Brighton based making their bars and buttons taste even sweeter.
If you’re worried that choosing vegan means that you’ll miss your favourite milk chocolate then look no further than the bars made by Moo Free, Plamil or iChoc. iChoc’s range exclusively consists of products that take the classic milk chocolate concepts and reinvent them using new animal product free recipes. I for one can never turn down a nibble of their white vanilla bar. If you’re in the market for a seriously decadent vegan treat you can’t go wrong with a Vego bar, Made in Germany this creamy, chunky, chocolate bar is made from Italian hazelnut paste and packed full of whole hazelnuts. Sometimes one square is enough even for this chocoholic!
If you’re looking for something low in added sugars then your options are still plentiful. You can pick up a bar from Lovechock, some chocolate covered mulberries from The Raw Chocolate Co, some of Pana Chocolate’s organic certiﬁed Aussie chocolate bars (the sour cherry & vanilla bar is my personal favourite), a pack of Chocada trufﬂes by Raw Health, OmBar buttons, or some award winning Conscious Chocolate.
If you’ve got your mind set on whipping up something delicious in your own kitchen try a batch of brownies made with cocoa powder from Equal Exchange, thumbprint cookies topped with vegan Nutella style spread from Plamil, a warming mug of hot chocolate from Equal Exchange (add a pinch of cayenne for a little extra spice), or take your love for cocoa to the next level with a chocolate making kit from Choc Chick.
It’s important to me, as a vegan writer and activist, that we make the vegan movement an intersectional one. As we work towards the liberation of non-human animals we need to remember not to turn a blind eye to the suffering of the people harmed in the making of our favourite vegan treats. Whether you’re browsing Inﬁnity’s shelves for something to grab and go or for ingredients to cook or bake with at home you’re sure to be able to ﬁnd the perfect chocolaty treat. Thanks to the Food Empowerment Project’s free app you can take their chocolate list with you wherever you go, making shopping ethically so much easier.