Is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Suitable For Vegans?

dark chocolate

Hershey’s are known for their milk chocolates. In fact, when you think of “Hershey’s”, the last word that probably comes to mind is “vegan”.

However, in the early 1970s, Hershey’s launched the Hershey’s Semi-Sweet line, which would later be replaced by the identical Special Dark line. A line of chocolates with a greater percentage of cocoa, a common characteristic among most vegan dark chocolates.

So, are Hershey’s dark chocolates vegan? The answer is no. 

Unlike culinary and many other dark chocolates, Hershey’s Special Dark line contains animal-based ingredients.

Side note: Feel free to read this post where I’ve compiled a list with some of the best vegan chocolates out there.

Why Are Hershey’s Dark Chocolates Not Vegan?

hershey's dark chocolate

First off, Hershey’s has more than one dark chocolate.

It has a variety of dark chocolates, which, unfortunately, not a single one (to my knowledge) is suitable for vegans:

  • #1 – Traditional 60% Cocoa Dark Chocolate;
  • #2 – Special Dark Chocolate Candy Bar;
  • #3 – Special Dark Chocolate Baking Chips;
  • #4 – Special Dark Chocolate w/ Coffee Flavor;
  • #5 – Special Dark Chocolate w/ Cranberry Flavor;
  • #6 – Special Dark Chocolate w/ Orange Flavor;
  • #7 – Special Dark Chocolate w/ Mint Flavor;

Unfortunately, all of these chocolates contain animal-based ingredients such as milk and milk fat.

In addition to that, it contains sugar, which may not be vegan — especially if the sugar is sourced outside of Europe, New Zealand and Australia.

Isn’t Sugar Vegan?

It depends.

Sugar derived from sugarcane goes through a process in which bone char is used to filter and bleach the sugar. That process gives sugar its white, pristine color

Unfortunately, that practice is still prevalent in the United States.

What’s also relevant is that not all cane sugar is bleached with bone char, and not all sugar comes from sugarcane. There’s also sugar that is extracted from sugar beets. Plus, using bone char depends on the type of supplier trading with the company.

Note: Bone char is banned in some European countries, as well as Australia and New Zealand.

Vegans Aren’t Fond Of Hershey’s.

Thinking about it, it’s not surprising that Hershey’s dark chocolate isn’t vegan.

Hershey’s is the epitome of dairy chocolates. It’s known for chocolates such as the Twizzlers, Kit Kat, Reese’s, and of course, the Hershey’s Milk Chocolates.

But not all is bad news.

Hershey’s is among the most ethical companies in the world. They have distinguished themselves, and have been recognized for its responsible practices:

  • Named to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index for several times, based on the substantial progress in environmental sustainability and our ethical sourcing. (Here’s a press release outlining the company’s improvement)
  • Awarded with the P3 Impact Award for its CocoaLink program, which has improved the lives of cocoa farmers in Ghana.
  • And Hershey’s CEO was awarded the Responsible CEO of the Year Award in 2014.

This being said, this does not deny the fact Hershey’s profit is fueled by dairy, jeopardizing the lives of cows and calves. That is not only cruel but also unsustainable in the long-term.

Additionally, Hershey’s is a company that barely has any vegan products.

Actually, it has one: Hershey’s Chocolate Syrup.

This chocolate syrup, however, was a byproduct of animal testing — a practice that Hershey’s eventually banned years ago.

Alternatives To Hershey’s Chocolates.

Don’t feel sad about Hershey’s, there are many vegan chocolates.

You can find vegan brands selling flavored dark chocolates without traces of animal ingredients. Here’s an example:

Hu Vegan Chocolates

Hu vegan chocolates

According to the company, they have the purest, most ethical, and most sustainable chocolates on the market. And it doesn’t have additives, stabilizers, emulsifiers, or other harmful ingredients commonly found in other chocolates.

In fact, here’s the list of ingredients: Organic fair-trade cacao, Almond, Unrefined organic coconut sugar, organic fair-trade cocoa butter, and organic puffed quinoa. It also contains less than 2% of cashew and hazelnut.

However, these chocolates are not the most affordable. You can check the price here (on Amazon).

Milkless Chocolates by No Whey Foods.

milkless chocolate

According to No Whey Foods (the company behind this chocolate), Milkless was devised to provide you with a milk-like experience.

Here’s the list of ingredients: Vegan cane sugar, Cocoa butter, Unsweetened chocolate, Rice syrup powder, and Sunflower Lecithin (an emulsifier).

There are also two other variations of Milkless chocolate: a crunchy and a semi-sweet variation. Both of which are also extremely tasty.

If you’re interested in Milkless chocolate, you can check them out on Amazon. They’re more affordable than the former.

Additional Information

Hu and Milkless Chocolates are wonderful alternatives, but I’m sure you can find vegan dark chocolates at Walmart’s, or in a grocery store near your house.

Lastly, look for chocolates with a cacao content of 50% or more. Typically, a higher cacao percentage indicates a higher chocolate content, and the better are the chances of the chocolate actually being vegan.

If you don’t like super dark chocolate, you can also enjoy dark chocolate with almonds, dried fruit, or mint, as these additions are often vegan-friendly. Caramel, peanut butter, truffle, or toffee filled chocolates unless specified as being vegan, should be avoided as they typically contain dairy.

Summary: Hershey’s Dark Chocolates Are Not Vegan.

Unfortunately, Hershey’s dark chocolates are not vegan because they contain milk. And while there’s always a good chance dark chocolates are vegan, it’s sadly not the case here.

However, you can find very good alternatives, ones that any vegan would rather support, instead of helping a dairy-heavy company like Hershey’s make a profit.

Let me know if you know of better alternatives (and preferably more affordable alternatives) so that I’m able to freely recommend them.

Thank you for reading this post! (It means a lot!)


*This post contains affiliate links, which means I may receive a small commission, at no additional cost to you, if you purchase through these links. See my full disclosure here.

You May Also Like

About the Author: Alexandre Valente

Hey there! My name is Alex and I've been vegan for more than three years! I've set up this blog because I'm really passionate about veganism and living a more eco-conscious life. Hopefully, I can use this website as a channel to help you out on your own journey!