Is Bournville Chocolate Vegan? | (2023)

Is Bournville Chocolate Vegan? | (1)There was a time not so long ago when vegans could happily wander into any supermarket, petrol station or corner shop and be fairly confident there would be one vegan-friendly chocolate bar available: Cadbury Bournville. Okay, it was never the nicest chocolate and not a patch on Cadbury’s Dairy Milk that many vegans still miss from their pre-vegan days. But at least it could be relied on!

But then… disaster! At some point during 2021, Cadbury (owned by US food giant Mondelez since 2010) deemed it a good idea to start adding milk powder to their Bournville products! Reliably vegan no more.

From that moment onwards, the iconic, red-packaged dark chocolate has been out of bounds for those on a plant-based diet. But, thankfully, there are plenty of fantastic alternatives when it comes to vegan chocolate, including the many options from our favourite vegan retailer, TheVeganKind Supermarket and – increasingly – from your nearest general supermarket.

We’ll get on to some of our favourite vegan-friendly chocolate options later in the article. But first, let’s explain why almost all Cadbury Bournville products are no longer suitable for vegans to consume.

What Makes Bournville Non-Vegan?

Is Bournville Chocolate Vegan? | (2)

As mentioned, Bournville – which was technically an accidentally vegan food rather than having been made vegan by design – used to be fine for vegans to tuck into. But some bright spark thought that adding skimmed milk powder would have some benefit. Without doing a blind taste test (using a non-vegan volunteer, of course), it’s difficult to ascertain whether the change in recipe improved the taste of Bournville chocolate, which (if we’re being honest, and there’s no reason not to be!), was a little grainy in texture and not as rich in flavour as other dark chocolates out there.

We should also note that it it isn’t just the main chocolate product that is now out of reach for vegans. Here are the other Cadbury Bournville products that are no longer vegan (or never were in some cases):

Bournville Classic

Sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, palm oil, emulsifiers (SOYA lecithins, E476), skimmed milk powder

Bournville Giant Buttons

Sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, palm oil, emulsifiers (SOYA lecithins, E476), skimmed milk powder

Bournville Old Jamaica

Sugar, cocoa butter, raisins, cocoa mass, palm oil, emulsifiers (SOYA lecithins, E476), flavouring, skimmed milk powder, chocolate: cocoa solids 36% minimum, contains vegetable fats in addition to cocoa butter

Bournville Orange

Sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, orange juice from concentrate (4%), palm oil, apple puree, emulsifier (SOYA lecithins, E476), pineapple fibres, acidity regulator (citric acid), gelling agent (E401), stabiliser (E341), natural flavouring, skimmed milk powder, colour (paprika extract)

Bournville Dark Chocolate Fingers

Wheat Flour (with Calcium, Iron, Niacin, Thiamin), Sugar, Cocoa Mass, Vegetable Fats (Palm, Sal, Mango and Shea in varying proportions), Cocoa Butter, Partially Inverted Sugar Syrup, Salt, Emulsifiers (E476, Soya Lecithins), Raising Agents (Ammonium Carbonates, Sodium Carbonates), Flavouring, Skimmed Milk Powder

Problem Ingredients & Grey Areas

A quick look at these ingredients would put many vegans – and indeed non-vegans off anyway. Palm oil is something of a grey area but many people, irrespective of whether they follow a plant-based diet or not, prefer to avoid it anyway for a range of reasons.

In addition, anyone who considers themselves any sort of connoisseur when it comes to chocolate probably wouldn’t want to pick a bar where sugar is the number one ingredient. Even those who just want a decent chocolatey hit might well feel the same given that a) they probably want to taste chocolate, not sugar and b) they would ideally like to avoid diabetes and various other medical conditions that are linked to excessive sugar consumption!

All that said, each to their own and there were many vegans who were happy to have Bournville as their standard go-to. Sadly for them, they will need to look elsewhere now.

Are Any Bournville Products Vegan?

This won’t help anyone seeking a chunk of chocolate on which to chomp. But if you are planning to bake a vegan chocolate cake or you fancy an old-fashioned cup of cocoa (made with your favourite vegan milk alternative, of course, this will offer some comfort: Cadbury Bournville Cocoa Powder is – on the face of it – vegan. We say ‘on the face of it’ because Cadbury don’t list the product as vegan and have a big, capitalised warning that the product may contain milk:

Bournville Cocoa Ingredients

Is Bournville Chocolate Vegan? | (3)

Cocoa powder, acidity regulator (sodium carbonate). MAY CONTAIN MILK

This is almost certainly because of the risk of cross-contamination that comes about because it is produced in a factory that almost certainly handles milk and milk-derived products. Essentially, Cadbury are covering their backs in case someone with a severe dairy allergy consumes some of the Cocoa. Indeed, if you have a milk or lactose allergy, it would obviously make sense to heed the milk warning.

But if you don’t have a milk allergy and you are happy to consume products made by a company that uses animal products in so many of their other offerings, fill your boots. Well, your mug at least.

What Are the Best Vegan-Friendly Chocolate Options?

There are loads of vegan-friendly chocolate bars out there, both mass-market options that you can find in your local supermarket, and also more specialist (i.e. pricey!) options that tend to be available in more specialist stores or direct from the producers. But here’s a selection of our favourites.

Chocolate Brand/VarietyWhere to BuyComments
Morrisons The Best 72% Cocoa Dominican Republic Dark ChocolateMorrisonsThis is, in our humble opinion, the best-value vegan chocolate around pretty much, certainly if you want something around the 70% cocoa mark. Creamy with a complex flavour profile, this is a supermarket stunner!
Montezuma’sTheVeganKind Supermarket and some othersMontezuma’s have a wide range of vegan-friendly chocolate products that are tasty and satisfying, including Organic Dark Giant Chocolate Buttons, Vegan Dark Chocolate Truffles and several vegan chocolate bars (including our favourite: Spice It Up – Dark Chocolate with Fiery Ginger).
Green & BlacksSupermarketsAlthough not all Green & Blacks chocolate products are vegan, a good proportion of their dark chocolate options are. We particularly like the Organic Dark 70% bars and the Maya Gold bars.
Vegan KitKatSupermarketsPretty darn similar to the non-vegan KitKat, but without the animal nasties (and also with an 18% reduction in the carbon footprint compared to the standard bar).
Hotel ChocolatHotel ChocolatAn increasing range of very good vegan chocolate offerings (around 50 at last count) from a company that clearly knows what they’re doing. The Dark Chocolat Batons are our favs.
Galaxy VeganSupermarketsWhen Galaxy (owned by Mars) released their vegan-friendly chocolate bars a couple of years ago, there were some very happy vegan chocolate lovers! Not as classy as some options, but the smooth, palatable Galaxy vegan bars are well worth trying if you haven’t already, especially the Caramel & Sea Salt option.
DivineSupermarkets (including TheVeganKind)Divine have plenty of vegan-friendly options, but we particularly like their After Dinner Thins which are a great vegan alternative to After Eights, which are not vegan.

Bournville: Conclusion

We think Cadbury are missing a trick and taking a massive backward step by changing the recipe of Bournville so that it is no longer suitable for vegans. When so many confectionary producers (and other food companies) are creating new and exciting vegan-friendly products, Cadbury has taken the decision to essentially reduce their potential customer base by introducing a milk-based ingredient. This seems rather foolish at best and frankly disdainful of those on a plant-based (or dairy-free) diet at worst.

In all honesty, though, Bournville chocolate was never particularly brilliant and there have long been far nicer vegan-friendly options available. And with the increasing availability of top-quality vegan chocolate, we can’t say we’re too disappointed that Bournville is now off the menu.

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