Lindt makes a huge variety of chocolates, most of which contain milk.
But what about their dark chocolate line?
Well, it depends. Some of the bars are vegan and some are not. That’s why we’re going to look at each one individually to figure out which one you can indulge with.
The Lindt Excellence: Is It Vegan?
Lindt Excellence is a line of chocolates released by Lindt — with the overwhelming majority of them being dark chocolates. The only exception is the Extra Creamy flavor, which makes it very obvious for the consumer that it contains milk.
The remaining 12 flavors are predominantly considered to be dark chocolate, but I believe not all of them are milk-free. Let’s look at each… one by one.
EXCELLENCE COCOA 99%
Ingredients: Cocoa mass, fat-reduced cocoa powder, cocoa butter, demerara sugar, cocoa solids, and dry cocoa solids.
Verdict: The Excellence Cocoa 99% is vegan.
But frankly, it is not surprising considering the percentage of cocoa that is being used. Typically, the higher the percentage of cocoa, the less sweet the chocolate is.
I’d say this one is an acquired taste since it doesn’t contain sugar.
EXCELLENCE LIME INTENSE
Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, anhydrous milk fat, freeze-dried lime 1% (lime zest 40%), lemon flavoring, emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavoring (vanillin).
Verdict: The Excellence Lime Intense is not vegan because it contains milk fat.
The Excellence Lime Intense has a low percentage of cocoa solids (47%). The lower this percentage is, the slimmer are the chances of Lindt chocolate being vegan.
EXCELLENCE MILD COCOA 70%
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (soy lecithin), vanilla.
Verdict: The Excellence Mild Dark Chocolate is vegan.
This milk dark chocolate is a sweeter version of the original (99% dark chocolate). Although its content is predominantly cocoa, it still has a considerable amount of sugar.
EXCELLENCE COCONUT INTENSE
Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass, grated caramelized coconut (coconut, sugar) (9%), cocoa butter, milk fat, natural flavor, emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavoring.
Verdict: The Excellence Coconut Intense is not vegan because it contains milk fat.
Similar to the Lime Intense Dark Chocolate, this one also has 47% cocoa content.
EXCELLENCE MADAGASCAR COCOA 70%
Ingredients: cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar, vanilla.
Verdict: The Excellence Madagascar Dark Chocolate is vegan.
What makes Madagascar different? Well, the cocoa chocolate within this dark chocolate was created using beans grown in the tropical islands of Madagascar.
Interestingly, most vegan chocolates seem to be at least 70% cocoa chocolate.
EXCELLENCE ECUADOR COCOA 75%
Ingredients: cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, soy lecithin, natural flavor.
Verdict: The Excellence Ecuador Dark Chocolate is 100% vegan.
Akin to the previous dark chocolate, the Ecuador Dark Chocolate cocoa beans are harvested in the tropical coastal areas of the Ecuadorian lowlands.
With 75% cocoa content, this Ecuadorian chocolate has an intense cocoa taste.
EXCELLENCE ARABICA INTENSE
Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, milk fat, Arabica coffee (2%), emulsifier (soy lecithin), flavor.
Verdict: The Excellence Arabica Intense is not vegan because it contains milk fat.
The Arabica Intense melds the flavor of Arabica coffee beans and Lindt dark chocolate together to give you a unique aroma and sweet taste.
And yes, the Arabica Intense has a low cocoa chocolate content (47%).
EXCELLENCE PINK GRAPEFRUIT
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, grapefruit preparation 12% (pink grapefruit juice 43%, apple, sugar, fructose syrup, rice flour, cocoa butter, aroma, pectin, lemon concentrate), cocoa butter, clarified butter, soy lecithin, aroma.
Verdict: The Excellence Pink Grapefruit Dark Chocolate is 100% vegan.
The Pink Grapefruit is an outlier. It’s the only Lindt Chocolate with a 47% cocoa content but while still being suitable for vegans. It is sweet chocolate with a fruity aroma.
It also has more additives than the other chocolates in the same line.
EXCELLENCE MINT INTENSE
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, butterfat, soy lecithin, synthetical vanillin, peppermint oil.
Verdict: The Excellence Mint Intense is not vegan because it contains butterfat.
The Mint Intense Dark Chocolate is comprised of 47% cocoa chocolate and it has a hint of peppermint oil which confers it with a refreshing aroma.
EXCELLENCE CARAMEL AND SEA SALT
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, caramel pieces (sugar, lactose, anhydrous milk fat, skimmed milk powder, rapeseed lecithin, artificial flavouring (caramel)), caramelised sugar (sugar, cocoa butter), cocoa butter, anhydrous milk, fat, soya lecithin, fleur de sel (sea salt), artificial flavourings (caramel, vanilla).
Verdict: The Excellence Caramel and Sea Salt is not vegan.
The caramel pieces within this dark chocolate are made from milk fat and skimmed milk powder. In addition to that, the cocoa butter also contains a mixture of milk and soya.
That isn’t usual since most cocoa butter is considered vegan.
EXCELLENCE ORANGE INTENSE
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, orange preparation 7% (orange puree 34%, sugar, apple, pineapple fibres, acidity regulator (citric acid), gelling agent (sodium alginate), stabiliser (calcium phosphate), flavoring), almonds 7%, cocoa butter, anhydrous milk fat, emulsifier (soya lecithin), flavoring.
Verdict: The Excellence Orange Intense Dark Chocolate is NOT vegan.
Unfortunately, this dark chocolate contains a trace amount of milk fat and has 48% chocolate cocoa content.
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, anhydrous milk fat, emulsifier (soya lecithin), an extract of chili pepper, flavoring.
Verdict: The Excellence Chili Dark Chocolate is not vegan.
First off, this Chili Dark Chocolate has a 48% cocoa content, so it not being vegan is according to expectations.
Unfortunately, this one contains milk fat, even though it’s merely a trace amount.
EXCELLENCE COCOA 90%
Ingredients: cocoa mass, cocoa butter, low fat cocoa powder, sugar, vanilla.
Verdict: The Excellence 90% Cocoa is 100% vegan.
Slightly sweeter than the 99% Cocoa chocolate, the Excellence 90% Cocoa is not too bitter nor overpowering, so it’s slightly more appealing for casual chocolate lovers.
EXCELLENCE COCOA 85%
Ingredients: cocoa mass, fat-reduced cocoa powder, cocoa butter, demerara sugar, natural bourbon and vanilla beans.
Verdict: The Excellence 85% Cocoa is vegan.
This dark chocolate is an even less overpowering version of the previous chocolate. If you’re struggling to find sweet dark chocolate, then you should try this one out.
A Personal Note
It is very disheartening to learn that the majority of their ‘flavored’ chocolates aren’t vegan. It’s even more disheartening since they mostly consist of:
- cocoa powder
- cocoa butter
- vanilla beans
All of which are plant-based ingredients. However, the addition of milk fat ruins it for most of us. In addition to that, there’s something else we must validate.
Is The Sugar In Lindt Chocolates Vegan?
Refined sugar is not always vegan.
There are two types of sugar, each one with different refining processes.
Beet sugar is refined using a diffuser and different additives that confer it with its crystallized color. On the other hand, Cane sugar CAN BE refined using bone char, a black powder obtained by carbonizing the bones of cattle.
Many suppliers use it to whiten sugar before supplying it to companies.
That information is not available on product labels, so the only way of knowing what type of sugar is being used is by asking the company or the manufacturer.
I don’t know which type of sugar Lindt uses, but there’s a chance it may contain sugar refined with bone char.
Note: According to their website, both the 99% and 85% Excellence Dark Chocolates use demerara sugar. This sugar has a darker color, so it’s probably void of bone char.
Are Lindt Chocolates Ethical?
A major worry behind cocoa-made products is whether or not they’re sourced ethically, without involving child labor and slavery.
According to this article, Lindt has invested $14M in its sustainable cocoa program since 2008, aiming to have a fully traceable and verifiable supply chain by 2020.
They don’t rely on external programs such as the World Cocoa Foundation, UTZ, and Fairtrade, but they have instead created their program to avoid what’s called mass balance.
Mass balance lets chocolate companies buy a given amount of certified cocoa, but that cocoa may be mixed with other non-certified cocoa along the supply chain. This allows chocolate brands to certify their products with Fairtrade (or whatever), even though only half the content of the product is certified.
Lindt didn’t want to give up control of their supply chain because they want to be able to fully trace or know where their beans are coming from.
Therefore, their sourcing model is not solely limited to a handful of products, but their entire supply chain.
They’re also audited by a third-party company called Earthworm.
The two 100% vegan chocolates sold by Lindt are:
- Excellence 99% Cocoa
- Excellence 85% Cocoa
The reason I’m saying this is because these chocolates do not contain animal-based ingredients, and it contains demerara sugar, which can’t possibly be refined with bone char.
At the same time, there are a few bars that have “sugar” in them, which may or not be refined using bone char.
These Excellence chocolate bars are typically considered vegan, even though there’s a slim chance they aren’t:
- Mild 70%
- Cocoa 70%
- Ecuador 75%
- Cocoa 90%
I ignore the “sugar” topic, but for those people that care about sugar refined with bone char — you’ll probably be on the safe side if you just consume the Excellence 99% and 85% Cocoa bars.