Confessions of an Occasional Vegan: On dark chocolate and milk chocolate being different food groups
by Katie McLurg
Hi I’m Katie, a (partially) reformed nugget-enthusiast and long time milk chocolate lover. After joining what was then a small, wonderfully welcoming but entirely vegan allplants team in 2018, I have learned more than I ever thought there was to know about life on the inside. Call me the Louis Theroux of plant-munching. I’m here as your part-cheese spirit guide to help you navigate the world of vegan adjacent living.
When I say I’m a fan of chocolate there is no amount of understating that can be done. This year I bought a November advent calendar. And when a list of foods by CO2 impact was distributed through the office it took me a full 48 hours to realise that the ‘Dairy Milk’ listed was that originating from a cow, not the Cadbury company. (I had wondered fleetingly why it had its own grouping separate from Milk Chocolate, several places below).
Ambassador for Cadbury Chocolate and great haircuts since 1990.
It was November 2018, one month into my job at allplants. Thrust in front of me as I walked through the door was a Tupperware full of beautifully handcrafted tahini truffles, and an enthusiastically bold promise from the distributor; “this is the best thing you will EVER eat.” Spoiler: it wasn’t. I had eaten a Lindor for breakfast-dessert that same day. As a lifelong chocolate lover, it offended me that dates and tahini had been blended together and referred to as a truffle in the first place.
There I was, ever serious about chocolate and newly serious about reducing my food footprint. However, I rejected (and do to this day) the advice from my colleagues that dark could simply be substituted for milk when it came to chocolate. They are entirely different food groups.
Self-certified sweet tooth, milk chocolate is one of the biggest stumbling blocks for me in becoming vegan, and it seems I am not alone. In a recent poll of our Instagram fam, we learned at least four of you felt the same way (totally worth writing this article for).
If you are trying Veganuary or just wanting to make more plant-based choices with your chocolate, this one's for you. Here are some things I have learned in my semi-veganness that might help you put down the bar at least one or two times a week.
- Hotel Chocolat Nutmilk is the one: Unless you aren’t into praline flavour, in which case, nothing to see here. Made using hazelnuts to get its milk component it’s creamy, delicious and you will 100% forget it’s vegan. They even do it as a hot chocolate mix, and paired with Oatly Barista? Would Nutmilk again.
Source: Hotel Chocolat; 90s vibes, my own.
- Butter it up: While I’m too sweet toothed to cope with a lot of dark chocolate on its own, pairing it with other food, like melting it over caramelised bananas or onto pancakes, takes the edge off. The winning combo in my book is with peanut butter, enter Pip and Nut’s Peanut Butter Cups. If you’re on a budget, you could always don an apron, grab some cupcake cases and make your own like the domestic god(dess) you are.
- Chocolate bakes: Another thing that takes the bitterness out of dark chocolate but keeps your treats vegan is baking, as sugar gets added along the way, sweetening the whole shebang. Here are a few vegan chocolate recipes to get you started. Oh, and the brownie cookies you will never regret.
Source: Right here. I promise, they are delicious
- Explore other ways to sugar: Sweets are not as good as chocolate. Fact. But if you are craving an easy sugar fix and don’t want to break your plant-based eating habits there are SO many options for vegans. Not even weird expensive ones; your childhood pals, Skittles and Jelly Tots make the list along with lots of others you’ll recognise.
- Reduce your sugar intake: This is for the committed amongst us, of which I personally am not. However, when it comes to committing to your new plant-based choices I am a firm believer in tweaking your tastebuds (at least in the case of cheese and chocolate). Cutting down on sugar across your diet will adjust your palate so you crave milk less and enjoy dark more. Science. The rest of you? I will see you at the kid’s table with the Oreos and Party Rings.
I would love to hear in the comments any tips and tricks you have for subbing out milk chocolate, it’s a journey I am very much still on.
At allplants we make trying to eat more plants an easy, judgement-free choice. I always put three Mushroom Risottos in my box, consider it recommended. Shop now and use OCCASIONALVEGAN10 for £10 off your first order.
By Katie McLurg
Katie is our Head of Creative, head of crafts (ask her about her Harry Potter-themed gingerbread houses) and head of looking-after-allplants-pups, which is totally a thing. As well as baking, painting, drawing – you get the idea – on her day off you’ll find her giggling with her godson, or eating our Mushroom Risotto.