Chocolate

It can be a bit challenging to find vegan chocolate in Japan. When looking for chocolate we suggest you:

– Look in foreign food stores like Kaldi Coffee Farm
– Order online, for example from iHerb
– Check 100 yen stores
– Read the label carefully (you can see the common ingredients below)

While you will see a range of dark chocolate in supermarkets and convenience stores, many contain milk. Many also contain ‘flavouring’ (without further description), and emulsifier that is not specified as being made from soy.

In relation to ‘flavouring’, it seems that this could just be vanilla, For example, this hot cocoa powder includes ‘natural vanilla’ in the English list of ingredients, but the Japanese list only says ‘flavouring’.

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• Aff x Nikkoh Allergen-Free Dark Chocolate/ニッコー アレルゲンフリーチョコレートダーク. Ingredients: Sugar, cacao mass, vegetable oil, cocoa powder/emulsifier, flavouring.

Free of all 27 allergenic ingredients. Those with milk allergies can safely enjoy this product. Photo from Nikkoh’s website.

nikkoh allergen-free dark chocolate

• Asahi Ippon Manzoku Bar Cereal Black 80% Less Sugar/一本満足バー シリアルブラック 糖質80%オフ. Ingredients: Maltitol, cocoa mass, corn flakes, vegetable oil, macadamia nuts, dextrin, wheat puffs (wheat, starch, other ingredients) raisins, cocoa powder, cocoa butter,  glucomannan/cellulose, emulsifier, flavouring, vitamin E, sweetener (sucralose), vitamin B6, vitamin B2, vitamin B1, vitamin B12 (Contains wheat, dairy and soybeans). 

This is a chocolate bar that has been fortified with some vitamins, including 1.1 mcg of B12. 

The company has stated that it contains no animal ingredients. However, it may have cross-contamination from milk being processed in the same factory or on the same line, so in this case, the warning on the package that makes it look as if dairy is an ingredient only means that particles may be present from cross-contamination. Be sure to get the one in the black packaging as the others have animal ingredients such as milk. It can be found in many convenience stores.

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Benjamissimo organic vegan chocolate, 5 flavours, seen only at some branches of Kaldi and Jupiter import stores. Marked vegan on the package.

Dark 70% with Bulgarian rose oil, white with raw cocoa nibs, dark 70% with mint and maca, white with matcha and lemon, dark 70% with chia and grapefruit.

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Happy Dates bars have a product page here and can be ordered online here or found in selected stores. The three flavors are all free of the top 27 allergenic substances.

• Happy Dates Chocolate Brownie/HAPPY デーツ チョコブラウニー味. Ingredients: Dates, cacao mass, red sugar, roasted almonds, cocoa powder, concentrated date fruit juice, salt (salt from Miyakojima)

Chocolate brownie-flavoured bars with dates as the main ingredient. Milk, egg, wheat and refined sugar-free. Sweet with the flavour of roasted almonds. The taste is quite chocolatey.

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For those with a Costco near them, these chocolate chips appear to be vegan from the ingredient list:

• Kirkland Signature Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. Ingredients: Chocolate liquor, sugar, soy lecithin (an emulsifier), vanilla.

The following chocolate appears to possibly be vegan from the ingredient list. It’s listed on the Costco website as “kosher dairy,” which means it might have dairy, possibly from cross-contamination. 51% Cacao; uses real vanilla. Photo from website.

costco semi-sweet chocolate chips

Kit Kat Sublime Bitter

Ingredients: chocolate (cacao mass, sugar, cocoa butter), wheat flour, vegetable oils, sugar, yeast, emulsifier, baking soda, yeast food. (Includes soybeans) Products containing nuts, including almonds, and milk are manufactured in the same factory.

Kit Kats sold in regular stores in Japan all have dairy. One variety available only in the upscale Chocolatory stores and online appears not to contain dairy from the ingredient list, although it does have an allergy warning for dairy, likely due to cross-contamination during the manufacturing process. The store list is here (Japanese).

The sugar in Kit Kats was also confirmed by the company to be bone char processed as of 2017. Also, it isn’t clear what “yeast food” is and if it is vegan. However, it appears the emulsifier may be made of soy, due to the soy warning on the package.

Three types of cacao- roasted, floral, and fruity are blended for a cacao content of 66%, balancing sour and bitter elements. Photo from website.

kit kat sublime bitter

Lotte Polyphenol 70% Chocolate/Lotte ポリフェノールショコラ カカオ70%Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, vegetable oil/hesperidin, flavouring, emulsifier (soy derived). Contains soy. Processed on the same equipment as products containing eggs, dairy and wheat.

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Maestrani makes a matcha and mint flavored white confectionery with green tea and peppermint that is labeled “vegan” in English on the front of the package. It has been spotted only in Yamaya Liquor stores.

• Maestrani Swiss Organic Matcha & Minze (Matcha and Mint). Ingredients: Cane sugar, cocoa butter, dehydrated rice syrup, coconut paste, green tea powder 1.5%, sea salt, emulsifier (soya lecithin), peppermint oil. Allergy notes: May contain hazelnuts, almonds, milk.

Product of Switzerland. The Maestrani website is here, but it doesn’t appear to list this specific product.

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The following Meiji chocolates in the “The Chocolate” and “Chocolate Effects” series do not contain any dairy as an ingredient. However, they may have cross-contamination from milk being processed in the same factory or on the same line, so in this case, the warning on the package that makes it look as if dairy is an ingredient only means that particles may be present from cross-contamination.

The company has also stated that they do use bone-char processed sugar in the making of these chocolates and they are not a product that is guaranteed to not use any animal products in the manufacturing process. It is not clear how the flavourings in the “Chocolate Effects” series are made.

Some of the following choices are available in convenience stores, and the rest in supermarkets or online.

Other chocolates in the same “The Chocolate” and “Chocolate Effects” series do contain dairy as an ingredient, not just as traces from manufacturing, including The Chocolate Framboise (Raspberry).

Meiji The Chocolate Comfort Bitter/Meiji ザ・チョコレート   力強い深みコンフォートビタ. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter/emulsifier. Marked “contains dairy and soy.” The dairy warning, in this case, refers to small particles that may be present due to this product being processed alongside products containing dairy.

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Meiji The Chocolate Elegant Bitter/Meiji ザ・チョコレート   華やかな果実味エレガントビタ. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter/emulsifier. Marked “contains dairy and soy.” The dairy warning, in this case, refers to small particles that may be present due to this product being processed alongside products containing dairy.

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Meiji The Chocolate Blossom Bitter/ Meiji ザ・チョコレート 凛と香り立つブロッサムビタ. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter/emulsifier. Marked “contains dairy and soy.” The dairy warning, in this case, refers to small particles that may be present due to this product being processed alongside products containing dairy.

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Meiji The Chocolate Fragrant Yuzu/Meiji  ザ・チョコレート 弾ける香りゆず. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, yuzu powder, yuzu peel, vegetable oil/emulsifier. Marked “contains dairy and soy.” The dairy warning, in this case, refers to small particles that may be present due to this product being processed alongside products containing dairy.

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There is also a three-pack available in some stores that contains small portions of Comfort Bitter, Elegant Bitter, and Blossom Bitter. 

• Meiji The Chocolate 3 Cocoa Flavor Set/Meiji  ザ・チョコレート 3つのカカオ香味セット.

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• Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Blocks/Meiji チョコレート効果カカオ72%.  Comes in two sizes, one large blocks and the other small. The ingredients for both sizes are the same. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa powder, cocoa butter/emulsifier, flavouring. Marked “contains dairy and soy.” The dairy warning, in this case, refers to small particles that may be present due to this product being processed alongside products containing dairy.

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• Meiji Chocolate Effects 86% Cacao Blocks/Meiji チョコレート効果カカオ86%. Comes in two sizes, one large blocks (not pictured here) and the other small. The ingredients for both sizes are the same. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, cocoa powder, sugar, cocoa butter/emulsifier, flavouring. Marked “contains dairy and soy.” The dairy warning, in this case, refers to small particles that may be present due to this product being processed alongside products containing dairy.

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Meiji Chocolate Effects 95% Cacao Blocks/Meiji チョコレート効果カカオ95%Ingredients: Cocoa mass, cacao powder, sugar, cocoa butter/emulsifier, flavouring. Marked “contains dairy and soy.” The dairy warning, in this case, refers to small particles that may be present due to this product being processed alongside products containing dairy.

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•  Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Blocks with Roasted Crushed Almonds/ Meiji チョコレート効果72%素焼きクラッシュアーモンド

• Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Blocks with Coarsely Ground Cacao/チョコレート効果72%素チョコレート効果72% 粗くだきカカオ豆 This product is not viewable on the website, although it may still be sold in some places. It may be in the process of being replaced with the following product:

Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Blocks with Cacao Nibs/Meiji チョコレート効果 カカオ72% カカオニブ. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa powder, fried cacao nibs, vegetable oil, cocoa butter/emulsifier, flavouring. Marked “contains dairy and soy.” The dairy warning, in this case, refers to small particles that may be present due to this product being processed alongside products containing dairy.

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The ball type in the Chocolate Effects series contains shellac, produced from insects, so they are not vegan. It’s listed as 光沢剤 kōtaku-zai, (food) polisher/brightener.

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• Otsuka SOYJOY Crispy, White Macadamia/Otsuka ソイジョイ クリスピー ホワイトマカデミア. Ingredients: Soy flour (Japan-processed, non genetically modified), margarine, puffed soy (soy protein, tapioca starch), soymilk chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter, soy powder, other), sugar, non-digestible dextrin, macadamia nut, soy protein, salt/flavouring.

SOYJOY crispy, according to the manufacturer’s website, Otsuka Pharmaceuticals, are “nutritional foods made with whole soybean flour, fruits and nuts, containing no wheat. They offer a smart and delicious way to enjoy the nutritional goodness of soy, including vegetable protein, soy isoflavones, and dietary fiber.”

SOYJOY crispy contain sugar that is confirmed to have been whitened using the bone char processing method.

They come in five flavors. The only chocolate flavor is white macadamia, which contains non-dairy white chocolate made of soy.

Regular SOYJOY (not SOYJOY Crispy) contains egg. Be sure to check that the package says “crispy” in English, as otherwise the packaging is virtually identical.

More information can be found on the English-language Otsuka Pharmaceuticals website.

Check our convenience stores page for information on the other flavors of this product.

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People Tree, the fair trade company, makes a line of chocolates marked “vegie.” The Japanese warning on the package saying “contains dairy as part of ingredients” has been confirmed, in this case, to be a cross-contamination warning meaning these chocolates are processed on the same line as items containing dairy. Small particles of dairy may be present in these chocolates as a result.

They can be purchased at some Natural Lawson convenience stores (not regular Lawson), at the People Tree shop in Jiyugaoka, Tokyo, in health food stores and supermarkets, and on the People Tree website.

Other chocolates without the “vegie” label from the same line contain dairy as an ingredient.

• People Tree Fair Trade Bar Chocolate, Bitter Lemon Peel/ピープルツリー フェアトレードチョコ・板チョコ・オーガニック ビター・レモンピール. Ingredients: Organic cocoa mass, organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic starch syrup powder, organic lemon peel / lemon flavor. (Contains dairy as part of ingredients.) Organic JAS certification. Manufactured with common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

• People Tree Fair Trade Bar Chocolate, Bitter Pomegranate/ピープルツリー フェアトレードチョコ・板チョコ・オーガニック ビター・ザクロ. Ingredients: Organic cocoa mass, organic crude sugar, organic pomegranate jelly (organic pomegranate juice, organic apple juice, organic rice flour), organic cocoa butter / vanilla flavor, thickener (pectin). (Contains dairy as part of ingredients.) Organic JAS certification. Manufactured with common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

• People Tree Fair Trade Bar Chocolate, Organic Bitter/ピープルツリー フェアトレードチョコ・板チョコ・オーガニック・ビター. Ingredients: Organic cocoa mass, organic  brown sugar, organic crude sugar, organic cocoa butter. (Contains dairy as part of ingredients.) Organic JAS certification. Manufactured with common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

• People Tree Fair Trade Bar Chocolate, Organic Coconut Milk/ピープルツリー フェアトレードチョコ・板チョコ・オーガニック ココナッツミルク. Ingredients: Organic coconut sugar, organic cocoa mass, organic cocoa butter, organic coconut flakes, organic coconut milk powder / vanilla flavor. (Contains dairy as part of ingredients.) Organic JAS certification. Manufactured on common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

• People Tree Fair Trade Bar Chocolate, Peru 75/ピープルツリー フェアトレードチョコ・板チョコ・オーガニック ペルー75. Ingredients: Organic cocoa mass, organic crude sugar, organic cocoa butter/vanilla flavor. (Contains dairy as part of ingredients.) Organic JAS certification. Manufactured on common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

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Seijo Ishii supermarket has some chocolate buttons meant for baking or cooking that may be vegan. They can also be used to make a nice fondue. The 38% variety is not vegan as it has whole milk powder as an ingredient.

Seijo Ishii Couvert Tulle Superior Cacao 56% 300g/成城石井 クーベルチュールスペリオール カカオ分56% 300g. Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, vanilla, emulsifier. (Contains milk and soybeans as part of ingredients.)

The milk warning may just be an allergy warning due to products containing milk being processed on the same line/in the same factory, especially since the soy is likely to be the emulsifier, but it would be necessary to contact the company to find out.

Three types of cocoa beans from different regions are blended to make a simple but flavorful sweet chocolate. It is recommended for brownies and cookie doughs, coatings and so on.

Seijo Ishii Couvert Tulle Superior Cacao 70% 300g/成城石井 クーベルチュールスペリオール カカオ分70% 300g. Ingredients: Cacao mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (Contains milk and soybeans as part of ingredients.)

The milk warning may just be an allergy warning due to products containing milk being processed on the same line/in the same factory, especially since the soy is likely to be the emulsifier, but it would be necessary to contact the company to find out.

Cacao beans from Ecuador are used to make a sweet chocolate that’s also bitter. It is recommended for gateau chocolat and cookie dough.

TopValu Green-Ai Organic and Fair Trade Dark Chocolate/TopValu グリーンアイ オーガニック&フェアトレード ダークチョコレート. Ingredients: Organic cocoa mass, organic sugar, organic skimmed cocoa powder, organic cocoa butter, emulsifier (derived from soy). (Contains dairy as part of ingredients.) The Japanese warning on the package saying “contains dairy as part of ingredients” has been confirmed, in this case, to be a cross-contamination warning meaning these chocolates are processed on the same line as items containing dairy. Small particles of dairy may be present in these chocolates as a result. Photo from website.

topvalue organic and fair trade chocolate

Although they are not carried in regular supermarkets or grocery stores, upscale supermarkets and Natural Lawson (not regular Lawson) convenience stores will sometimes have Vivani chocolates, marked in English as vegan on the package. The Japanese warning that makes it look like they have dairy on the back means, in this case, that small particles of dairy may be present due to processing, not that dairy was used as an ingredient.

Vivani Black Cherry. Ingredients: Cocoa mass*, raw cane sugar*, cocoa butter*, sour cherry crisp* 3,5 % (sour cherry puree*, apple puree concentrate*, sour cherry juice concentrate*, lemon juice concentrate*) Cocoa solids: 62% min.* from organic agriculture certified by (DE-ÖKO-013). May contain components of other shell fruits, milk and gluten.

From Vivani’s website: “Dark Chocolate with Sour Cherry Crisp. Sour, fruity, aromatic. Delicate juicy but crunchy pieces of sour cherry find a perfect contrast in the intensive South American organic cocoa. A duet that appeals to all senses.”

• Vivani Crispy Corn Flakes. Ingredients: Raw cane sugar*, cocoa butter*, rice drink powder* (rice syrup*, dried) 13%, cocoa mass*, cornflakes* 7 % (corn*, raw cane sugar*, sea salt), tiger nuts* (ground), hazelnut paste*, bourbon vanilla extract*, sea salt.
cocoa solids: 37 % min. * from organic agriculture May contain components of other tree nuts and milk.

From the Vivani website: “Crunchy vegan “milk chocolate” bar with rice drink instead of milk, refined with brittle cornflakes. Not just for vegans! 5 Cent Logo for Haiti
As part of the VIVANI ‘KIDS for KIDS’ campaign against child labour, 5 cents per bar are donated to the Ecole Amitié (‘School of Friendship’) in Haiti. This provides street children access to education, food and hygiene.”

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• Vivani Rice Choc 40% Cacao. Ingredients: Ingredients: raw cane sugar*, cocoa butter*, cocoa mass*, rice drink powder* (rice syrup*, dried) 15 %, hazelnut paste*, bourbon vanilla extract*. Cocoa solids: 40 % minimum. * from organic agriculture certified by (DE-ÖKO-013) May contain components of other shell fruits, milk and gluten.

From Vivani’s website: “Trendy snack for vegan chocolate lovers as an ideal alternative to common “milk” chocolates! Instead of milk powder with vegan rice drink powder. Tastes like normal milk chocolate, thus attractive for “non vegans”, too.

vivani rice chocolate

 

Here are some more varieties of chocolate that are not vegan. These are some of the most commonly available types of dark chocolate in Japan.

• Black Thunder contains dairy and whey powder.

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• Bourbon Petit Bit Cacao 70% contains whole milk powder/全粉乳 zen fun’nyū.

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• Kit-Kats (with the possible exception of Sublime Bitter)

All KitKats in regular stores are made with dairy as a standard ingredient in Japan. The sugar was also confirmed by the company to be bone char processed as of 2017. There is one product called “Sublime Bitter” available only at their upscale line of Chocolatory stores and online that appears not to contain dairy from the ingredient list, although it does have an allergy warning for dairy, likely due to cross-contamination during the manufacturing process and it contains something called “yeast food,” and it is unclear if that is vegan or not.

Below is a photo of their roasted barley flavour, which contains dairy.

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• Lotte Ghana Black Chocolate contains whole milk powder/全粉乳 zen fun’nyū.

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Lotte Polyphenol 50% Chocolate/Lotte ポリフェノールショコラ カカオ70% contains whole milk powder/全粉乳 zenfunnyū.

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•  Meiji BLACK Chocolate/Meiji ブラックチョコスティックパック is not vegan as it contains whole milk powder/全粉乳 zen fun’nyū.

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• Meiji Black Chocolate Cubie/Meiji ブラックチョコレート CUBIE contains whole milk powder/全粉乳 zen fun’nyū.

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• Meiji Galbo Black/Meiji ガルボブラックポケットパック contains dairy and eggs.

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• Morinaga DARS Bitter Chocolate is not vegan as it contains butter oil.

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5 thoughts on “Chocolate

  1. buzzinjapan

    The only vegan chocolate I found in Japan was Lindt dark chocolate which can be found in the import section of any department store food hall or specialty import supermarkets like the one in Kyoto Station.

    Reply
  2. Vegan chick

    Thank you so much you guys help me a lot, I was buying this really expensive choco in kaldi until now. By the way kaldi has some vegan things from time to time, rarely but more often than regular grossery shops. There are kaldis in every department store.
    Blessings to all vegans.

    Reply
  3. Jim

    I suggest going to iHerb.com and checking out their chocolate. They sell vitamins and supplements, and a wide variety of health products. All of their chocolates list the ingredients, so you know what you’re getting. Try the “Chocolove” brand. There are several kinds. I like the almond and sea salt (55% cocoa). It is 100% vegan (and organic). they are in California, but their shipping is effieient and reliable. I’ve never had a lost package from them in 15 years of shopping, and I live in Taiwan. The flat rate shipping fee for up to 8 lbs of stuff is US$8.00 (with a tracking number) and gets to you in just a few days (really). Or, go cheap and it’s US$4.00 flat rate for up to 3 lbs (without a tracking number) and it takes 2 to 3 weeks. You can read comments for all the products from users, and their prices are hard to beat. Use my iHerb coupon number and you will receive a US$5.00 discount on your first order. Use code: HEN449 Visit their website and browse around. You will see they are a leader in the field of health products.

    Reply

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