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, natural food stores, or upscale supermarkets
– 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 ‘flavoring’ (without further description), and emulsifier that is not specified as being made from soy, so of indeterminate origin.

In relation to “flavoring,” 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 “flavoring.”

img_6578    img_6579

A NOTE ABOUT CHOCOLATE LABELING IN JAPAN: Many products will state一部に乳成分を含む, meaning “contains dairy.” However, if dairy is not listed anywhere in the ingredients list, without contacting the company, it is not possible to tell if they mean dairy was used as an ingredient, or if it only means that small particles of dairy may be present from cross-contamination. For example, the Quinoa Krunch product shown below, which was sold at Kaldi Coffee Farm import stores, is marked “vegan” in English, but has this “contains dairy” warning on the package. Therefore, in that case the dairy must be from cross-contamination. Please contact the company that makes the product you are interested in for further information if necessary.

• Quinoa Krunch. Ingredients: Dark non-gmo chocolate (64% cocoa) (cocoa mass, cane sugar, cocoa butter, vanilla extract), organic quinoa, tapioca syrup, tapioca dextrin, zein (non-gmo corn derivative), coconut oil.

Processed in a factory that also processes milk, tree nuts, soy, and sesame.

Marked vegan, gluten free, peanut-free on the package. The Japanese label has a warning that makes it seem like milk could be an ingredient, but because the package already says vegan, in this case, we can work out that it must be a warning that small particles may be present due to cross-contamination. It reads (一部に乳成分・大豆を含む), meaning “contains dairy and wheat.”

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Here’s another example of a product that states that it contains dairy, but per customer service, it’s cross-contamination from manufacturing and not an actual ingredient. It’s reported that customer service for the below Daiso product stated that most of the chocolate makers in Japan now put “it contains dairy” on the product package as it’s almost impossible to avoid contamination.

Daiso Kuchidoke Black Chocolate. Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa powder, vegetable oil/emulsifier, flavoring.

Product contains dairy and soy.

The package states that the item contains dairy/一部に乳成分…を含む, but the customer service stated that it is cross-contamination from manufacturing, not from an actual ingredient. They further stated that for all items imported by Doushisha/ドウシシャ, the importer of this product, if there is no dairy listed in the ingredient list, the warning “product contains dairy” just means it has possible dairy cross-contamination.

There is also a warning on the package stating it is produced in a factory with items containing egg, wheat, peanut, orange, cashew nuts, sesame, banana, gelatin, kiwi fruits, walnuts, peach and apple.

Daiso Kuchidoke Black Chocolate front of package    Daiso Kuchidoke Black Chocolate ingredient list

Here is an example of the type of product that may pop up in natural food markets. It was found in February 2021 in a natural food supermarket called Kodawariya, a chain with branches in Tokyo and Kanagawa, Saitama and Chiba prefectures. It’s vegan chocolate from Estonia in biodegradable packaging.

Roosiku Organic Chocolate/ローシク オーガニックチョコレート in Strawberry, Mild, and Hi Cacao flavors.

Online purchase links: Kodawariya’s online shop (Strawberry), Kodawariya’s online shop (Mild), Kodawariya’s online shop (Hi Cacao), Kodawariya’s online shop (three-pack of all flavors)

Roosiku Organic Chocolate    Roosiku Organic Chocolate back of package    Roosiku Organic Chocolate package details

Another example of a clearly vegan product is these Bio-Ral Organic Cacao Chocolates, certified vegan by VegeProject Japan (English) and found in a branch of Life supermarket in April 2021. 

Bio-Ral Organic Cacao Chocolates/Bio-Ral オガーニックカカオのチョコレート. Ingredients: Organic cacao mass (organic cacao beans (Dominican Republic), organic sugar, organic cocoa butter, vanilla beans.

The product is made in a factory that handles items containing dairy, wheat, eggs, peanuts, soybeans, orange, cashew nuts, kiwi fruits, walnuts, sesame, banana, peach, apple, gelatin, and almonds.
 
Bio Ral Organic Cacao Chocolates    Bio Ral Organic Cacao Chocolates back of package    
 

CHOCOLATE CHIPS

Dairy-free chocolate chips are extremely hard to find in regular stores and supermarkets in Japan. Cutting a chocolate bar into small pieces may work for some recipes, or there are online options such as ordering from overseas companies like veganessentials.com or companies based in Japan. A few companies also make couverture products in small pieces intended for melting that look similar to chocolate chips. It might be possible to substitute couverture chocolate for chocolate chips.

These Amika supermarket own-brand Chocolate Chips for Cooking, Large might be vegan, but it’s impossible to tell from the label.  The “Product contains dairy…/一部に乳成分…を含む” warning on the label could be referring just to cross-contamination and not to dairy as an actual ingredient, but again it isn’t possible to know for sure without contacting the manufacturer to ask. 

• Chocolate Chips for Cooking, Large/チョコチップ L 料理用. Ingredients: Sugar, vegetable oil, cocoa powder, cocoa mass/emulsifier, flavoring.

Product contains dairy and soybeans.

Amika chocolate chips L

These My Kitchen Rich Choco Chips are from a branch of Seria, a 100 yen shop. Photos taken in March 2021.

• My Kitchen Rich Choco Chips, Cafe Mocha for Adults/My Kitchen Rich Choco Chips 大人のカフェモカ. Ingredients: Sugar (domestically produced), vegetable oil, cocoa powder, coffee powder, cacao mass/flavoring, thickener (processed starch), emulsifier (soybean derived).

Products with wheat, dairy and egg are made in the same factory.

Seria Rich Choco Chips    Seria Rich Choco Chips back of package

Now let’s look at some online ordering options for chocolate chips. 

Tengu Natural Foods (Alishan) is a Saitama, Japan-based company that sells chocolate chips marked “vegan-friendly” on the online product page. They’re organic and made in Peru, supplied by Equal Exchange.

•  Alishan Organic Chocolate Chips (Bitter)/有機チョコレートチップス(ビター)

Alishan Organic Chocolate Chips (Bitter)    Alishan Organic Chocolate Chips (Bitter) back of package

iHerb (page language can be set to English) also carries some choices. Below are a few examples. The chocolate chips seem popular and do go out of stock at times, but but you can set a notification up to tell you when they’re available for purchase. iHerb only ships chocolate items between October 1st and June 14th as they might melt or spoil in transit in the hot summer months. Shipping (which is international to Japan) takes 5-7 days. Find more information about ordering from iHerb in our vegan online shopping section. To get a discount on your order please feel free to use our referral codes: CYK4452 or ARA5497.

Photos of chocolate chips from iHerb taken in June 2021.

One possibility is the Enjoy Life vegan chocolate chips in various sizes. They’re certified by vegan.org.

Enjoy Life Mini Chips Semi-Sweet

Enjoy Life Mini Chips Semi-Sweet back of package

Endangered Species Premium Baking Chips, Oat Milk and Dark Chocolate are quite tasty. They’re certified vegan by vegan.org.

Endangered Species Premium Baking Chips Oat Milk & Dark Chocolate

Endangered Species Premium Baking Chips Oat Milk & Dark Chocolate back of package

Equal Exchange organic and fairly traded chocolate chips are also carried on iHerb in two versions, Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Chips and Organic Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips. They are both labeled vegan on the Equal Exchange website (but not on iHerb, so they don’t come up on iHerb when searching for “vegan chocolate chips”).

Equal Exchange Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

Equal Exchange Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips back of package

Amazon Japan also sells a brand of chocolate chips called Natural Kitchen. The product is made in Peru.

Natural Kitchen JAS Certified Organic Chocolate Chips/オーガニック・チョコチップ 【有機JAS認証品】【ナチュラルキッチン】. Ingredients: Organic sugar, organic cacao mass, organic cocoa butter.

Out of the 7 specified allergens, the factory the product is manufactured at also manufactures products containing milk and wheat.

Natural Kitchen JAS Certified Organic Chocolate Chips

You could also try the Mama Pan chocolate from Amazon Japan. This is a couverture chocolate product meant for melting and covering sweets or cakes, but the pieces may also work as chocolate chips. The item listing specifies that items containing dairy are processed on the same factory line. Only refrigerated shipping is available for this item from April-October.

Mama Pan Belgian Córdoba Couverture Dark Chocolate 71.4%/チョコレート ベルギー産 ダークチョコレート コルドバ  カカオ71.4% クーベルチュール. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter/soy lecithin, flavoring (vanilla).

Product includes soybeans.

Dairy products are used on the same line.

Mama Pan chocolate chips

Tomiz. the baking goods supply store, also carries a made-in-Italy couverture chocolate intended for commercial use. It can also possibly be used as chocolate chips. It can be ordered on Amazon Japan and may also be available in Tomiz stores.

•  Tomiz (Tomizawa Shoten) Ariba Couverture Dark 72% Cacao/アリバ クーベルチュール ダーク72%TOMIZ(富澤商店) カカオ分72% 高カカオ チョコレート 業務用. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa powder, cocoa butter/emulsifier.

Of the 7 specified raw materials, the product processing plant also handles food containing wheat, dairy products, eggs, buckwheat, peanuts, shrimp, and crab.

Tomiz (Tomizawa Shoten) Ariba Couverture Dark 72% Cacao

CHOCOLATE

Let’s look at some examples of chocolates that are vegan or appear to possibly be. The list is not exhaustive. As of late 2020, there are many chocolates on the market that state they contain dairy, but don’t appear to show any dairy from the ingredient list. Realistically, it is not possible to tell for sure if they have dairy as an ingredient, or just cross-contamination from dairy during manufacturing, without contacting the company to ask.

• 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, cocoa mass, vegetable oil, cocoa powder/emulsifier, flavoring.

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

The Asahi Ippon Manzoku Bar Cereal Black 80% Less Sugar chocolate bar has been fortified with some vitamins, including B12. It can be found in many convenience stores (as well as some drugstores).

The company previously 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. 

The blog Sushi Voyage states that the vegetable oil partially consists of palm oil.

In October 2020, the company switched from a system where allergens were listed at the end of the ingredient list to one where allergens were listed after the raw material they were contained in. However, it’s reported that the company’s customer service stated at that time that this still only means cross-contamination from dairy, and dairy is still not included as an actual ingredient. 

In another response to a customer at that time, they stated that since it isn’t a vegan food, cross-contamination with dairy is inevitable during the manufacturing process, and that they cannot certify that no animal materials are used even in the raw materials. This would seem to conflict with their older statement that it contains no animal ingredients, but it is possible the company just cannot certify this. 

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: Chocolate (cocoa mass, maltitol, vegetable oil, dextrin, cocoa powder, cocoa butter) (includes dairy) (domestically produced), corn flakes, corn grits, sugar, etc.), macadamia nuts, wheat puffs (wheat flour, starch, malt extract), raisins, glucomannan, salt/cellulose, emulsifier (derived from soybeans), flavoring, ferric phyrophosphate, sweetener (sucralose), vitamin E, vitamin B6, vitamin B2, vitamin B1, acidulant, vitamin B12.

Products containing eggs are manufactured in the same factory.

Out of the 28 suggested allergens, item contains wheat, dairy, and soybeans.

Photos taken in May 2021. 

Asahi Ippon Manzoku Bar Cereal Black

Asahi Ippon Manzoku Bar Cereal Black back of package

Benjamissimo organic vegan chocolate. (English-language link) 5 flavors, seen only at some branches of discount and import stores such as Kaldi and Jupiter.

Dark 70% with Bulgarian rose oil. Ingredients: Cacao mass*, raw cane sugar*, cacao butter*, sunflower lecithin*, Damask rose essential oil* (0,004%). Cacao: 70% minimum. *From organic agriculture. May contain traces of nuts.

White with raw cocoa nibs. Ingredients: Raw cane sugar*, cacao butter*, coconut cream*(11%), almond protein powder* (10%), raw cacao nibs* (5%), sunflower lecithin*, Bourbon vanilla*. Cacao: 35% minimum. *From organic agriculture.

Dark 70% with mint and maca. Ingredients: Cacao mass*, raw cane sugar*, cacao butter*, maca powder* (2%), sunflower lecithin*, peppermint essential oil* (0,03%). Cacao: 70% minimum. *From organic agriculture. May contain traces of nuts.

White with matcha and lemon. Ingredients: Raw cane sugar*, cacao butter*, coconut cream*(11%), almond protein powder* (10%), matcha tea powder* (2,5%), sunflower lecithin*, lemon oil* (0,04%). Cacao: 35% minimum. *From organic agriculture.

Dark 70% with chia and grapefruit. Ingredients: Cacao mass*, raw cane sugar*, cacao butter*, chia seeds* (2%), sunflower lecithin*, grapefruit oil* (0,1%), orange oil*, lemon oil*, Bourbon vanilla*.

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These Blue Diamond Almonds, Dark Chocolate Flavor, were spotted in December 2020.

• Blue Diamond Almonds, Dark Chocolate Flavor/ブルーダイヤモンド チョコレート味ローストアーモンド. Ingredients: Almonds, sugar, cocoa powder, maltodextrin, chocolate flavor, salt/flavoring, sweetener (stevia).

Blue Diamond Almonds Dark Chocolate Flavor    Blue Diamond Almonds Dark Chocolate Flavor back of package

• Daiso 80% Cacao Couverture Chocolate/カカオ80%クーベルチュールチョコレット. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cacao butter/emulsifier, flavoring.

Product contains dairy and soybeans.

It’s unclear if the dairy warning means dairy was used as an ingredient or if it’s just a cross-contamination warning meaning small particles of dairy may be present.

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• Daiso Black Chocolate. Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa powder, vegetable oil/emulsifier, flavoring (product contains dairy and soy).

It’s unclear if the dairy warning means dairy was used as an ingredient or if it’s just a cross-contamination warning meaning small particles of dairy may be present.

There is also a warning on the package stating it is produced in a factory with items containing egg, wheat, peanut, orange, cashew nuts, sesame, banana, gelatin, kiwi fruits, walnuts, peach and apple.

daiso black chocolate    daiso black chocolate back of package

Customer service for the below Daiso product stated that most of the chocolate makers in Japan now put “it contains dairy” on the product package as it’s almost impossible to avoid contamination.

Daiso Kuchidoke Black Chocolate. Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa powder, vegetable oil/emulsifier, flavoring (product contains dairy and soy).

The package states that the item contains dairy/一部に乳成分…を含む, but the customer service stated that it is cross-contamination from manufacturing, not from an actual ingredient. They further stated that for all items imported by Doushisha/ドウシシャ, if there is no dairy listed in the ingredient list, the warning “product contains dairy” just means it has possible dairy cross-contamination.

There is also a warning on the package stating it is produced in a factory with items containing egg, wheat, peanut, orange, cashew nuts, sesame, banana, gelatin, kiwi fruits, walnuts, peach and apple.

Daiso Kuchidoke Black Chocolate front of package    Daiso Kuchidoke Black Chocolate ingredient list

These made-in-America Dean & Deluca chocolates were found in a branch of the Dean & Deluca chain in May 2021. Since the English-language ingredient lists are obscured by the Japanese labels, we’ve translated the Japanese ingredient lists here. 

• Dean & Deluca Dark Chocolate 72% Cocoa and Sea Salt Dark Chocolate. Ingredients (Dark Chocolate 72% Cocoa): Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter/emulsifier (soy-derived), vanilla flavoring. 

Products containing peanuts, wheat, and dairy are manufactured in the same facility.

Ingredients: (Sea Salt Dark Chocolate): Dark chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter), salt/emulsifer (soy-derived), vanilla flavoring. 

Products containing peanuts, wheat, and dairy are manufactured in the same facility.

 

• Eagle Confection Luxury Orange Bitter Chocolate/ひとりじめスイーツビターチョコレート贅沢オランジェ. Ingredients: Chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter), orange peel preserves, cocoa butter, liqueur (100% Grand Marnier), emulsifier, flavoring, acidulant. (Product contains dairy, soy and orange.)

Products containing dairy, egg, wheat, soybeans, apple, peach, orange, banana, gelatin, cashew nuts, sesame and rice are processed in the same factory.

It’s unclear if the dairy warning means dairy was used as an ingredient or if it’s just a cross-contamination warning meaning small particles of dairy may be present.

Grand Marnier-soaked orange peels in bitter chocolate are a treat for adults. Recommended to pair with whiskey or black coffee.

The source of the emulsifier isn’t listed but since the product says it contains soy it seems likely that a soy emulsifier was used.

Grand Marnier is vegan per Barnivore.

Online purchase link: Eikodo

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iChoc vegan chocolate can be found in some health food stores and upscale specialty shops.

• iChoc Almond Orange. Ingredients: raw cane sugar*, cocoa butter*, cocoa mass*, rice drink powder*14%, almonds, chopped* 4 %, granulated orange*3%, hazelnut paste*, orange essential oil*, bourbon vanilla extract*. Cocoa solids: 40% minimum. * from organic agriculture
Allergens: Contains almonds and hazelnuts. May contain traces of milk and gluten.

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• iChoc Choco Cookie. Ingredients: Raw cane sugar*, cocoa butter*, cocoa mass*, rice drink powder* 13% (dried rice syrup*), cocoa cookie* 12% (wheat flour, cocoa powder*, raw cane sugar*, coconut fat*, sugar beet syrup*, sea salt), hazelnut paste*, bourbon vanilla extract*. Cocoa solids: 40% minimum. Allergens: Contains wheat and nuts. Not used as ingredients but traces may be present: milk and nuts.

20190315_191713 (5)

• iChoc White Vanilla. Ingredients: Cocoa butter* 37%, raw cane sugar*, rice drink powder* (dried rice syrup*), tiger nuts* (ground), bourbon vanilla pod* (ground). *from organic agriculture. May contain traces of tree nuts, milk and gluten.

A vegan alternative to white chocolate.

20190315_191713 (3)

These Kawagoeya Cacao Walnuts were spotted in December 2020.

• Kawagoeya Cacao Walnuts/カワゴエヤ カカオxくるみ. Ingredients: Walnuts (America), brown sugar, granulated sugar, organic cocoa powder, erythritol/flavoring, sweetener (monkfruit extract).

Kawagoeya Cacao Walnuts    Kawagoeya Cacao Walnuts back of package

Kit Kats sold in regular stores in Japan all have dairy. One variety available only in the upscale Chocolatory stores and online, Kit Kat Sublime Bitter, 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.

The sugar in Kit Kats was 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. 

Kit Kat Sublime BitterIngredients: chocolate (cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter), wheat flour, vegetable oils, sugar, yeast, emulsifier, baking soda, yeast food.

Product includes soybeans.

Products containing nuts, including almonds, and milk are manufactured in the same factory.

Photo from website.

kit kat sublime bitter

This imported product available in some Kaldi stores is a tin of rice milk chocolate sticks with a vegan mark on the package. Look for it in the winter months as it doesn’t seem to be carried at other times.

• King Monty Rice Milk Chocolate. Ingredients: Chocolate (sugar, cocoa butter; cocoa mass, rice powder (rice syrup, rice flour), dietary fibre (inulin), emulsifier: E322 (SOY), natural cocoa and vanilla flavoring), vanilla; aroma, inverted sugar, stabilizer: E422.

May contain traces of nuts.

Allergy Information:

For allergens, see ingredients highlighted in bold in the ingredients list.

Products may contain trace amounts of other ingredients if produced in a mixed environment.

king monty chocolate front of package    king monty chocolate back of package

Some Meiji chocolates in the “Chocolate Effects” series were previously reported (and in two cases (for flavors that are unfortunately no longer being sold) directly checked by us with customer service) to not contain any dairy as an ingredient. However, according to the company’s customer service in 2019, the chocolates have cross-contamination from milk being processed using common equipment, 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 over a specified level. 

At the same time, the customer service also stated that they do use bone-char processed sugar in the making of the “Chocolate Effects” series and they are not products that are guaranteed to not use any animal products in the manufacturing process. It is not clear how the flavorings in the “Chocolate Effects” series are made.

In addition, the more recently-added “Chocolate Effects” 72% Cacao Rich Macadamia 9 pc. may be free of dairy as an ingredient (only present as cross-contamination) but it’s not possible to tell for sure without contacting the company:
Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Rich Macadamia 9 pc./チョコレート効果 カカオ72%コク深マカダミア 9粒

Here are the flavors in the “Chocolate Effects” series that customer service has been reported to state did not contain dairy as an ingredient that are still being sold as of April 2021:

• Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Blocks/Meiji チョコレート効果カカオ72%.  Comes in large blocks and small blocks. The ingredients for both sizes are the same. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa powder, cocoa butter/emulsifier, flavoring. 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.

20181209_161323    20181209_161137 - Copy (2)

The Meiji Chocolate Effects Cacao 72% Sachet 35g/チョコレート効果 カカオ72%小袋 35g and Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Large Bag 225g/チョコレート効果 カカオ72%大袋 225g also seem likely to just be the same product in different shapes/sizes and therefore only containing dairy as cross-contamination, although we don’t have confirmation from the company on this. The ingredient list is the same as for the two above versions.

Photos from website. 

Meiji Chocolate Effects Cacao 72% Sachet 35g    Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Large Bag 225g

• Meiji Chocolate Effects 86% Cacao Blocks/Meiji チョコレート効果カカオ86%. Comes in large blocks and small blocks. The ingredients for both sizes are the same. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, cocoa powder, sugar, cocoa butter/emulsifier, flavoring. 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.

First photo from website. 

Meiji Chocolate Effects 86% Cacao Blocks, large    20181209_161137 - Copy

The Meiji Chocolate Effects Cacao 86% Sachet 30g/チョコレート効果 カカオ86%小袋 30g and Meiji Chocolate Effects Cacao 86% Large Bag 210g/チョコレート効果 カカオ86%大袋 210g also seem likely to just be the same products in different shapes/sizes and therefore only containing dairy as cross-contamination, although we don’t have confirmation from the company on this. The ingredient list is the same as for the two above versions.

Photos from website. 

Meiji Chocolate Effects Cacao 86% Sachet 30g    Meiji Chocolate Effects Cacao 86% Large Bag 210g

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, flavoring. 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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A previous item in the Chocolate Effects series, the ball type of chocolate, was reported to contains shellac, produced from insects, so they were not vegan. It was listed as 光沢剤 kōtaku-zai, (food) polisher/brightener. Other items in the line include the same ingredient, so are presumably not vegan either: Chocolate Effects Cacao 72% pouch 40g/チョコレート効果 カカオ72%パウチ 40g, Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Unglazed Almonds Large Bag 166g/チョコレート効果 カカオ72%素焼きアーモンド大袋 166g, Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Unglazed Almonds 81g/チョコレート効果 カカオ72%素焼きアーモンド 81g, and Meiji Chocolate Effects Cacao 86% Pouch 37g/チョコレート効果 カカオ86%パウチ 37g.

Meiji Chocolate Effects Cacao 72% pouch 40g      Meiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Unglazed Almonds Large Bag 166gMeiji Chocolate Effects 72% Cacao Unglazed Almonds    Meiji Chocolate Effects 86% Cacao tablets   

Meiji has another line of chocolate called “The Chocolate.” Some of the flavors in this line that are no longer being sold were previously reported (and in one case, directly checked by us with customer service) to not contain any dairy as an ingredient. However, according to the company’s customer service in 2019, the chocolates have cross-contamination from milk being processed using common equipment, 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 over a specified level. 

At the same time, the customer service also stated that they do use bone-char processed sugar in the making of the “The Chocolate” series and they are not products that are guaranteed to not use any animal products in the manufacturing process. It is not clear how the flavorings in the “The Chocolate” series are made.

Some of the current flavors have the same ingredient list as the former bars that the company stated had no dairy as an ingredient, only cross-contamination, so it’s possible the same may be true for these, but it’s not possible to tell for sure without contacting the company. Here are a list of these flavors:

Meiji The Chocolate Venezuela Cacao 70%/明治 ザ・チョコレートベネズエラカカオ70 50g
Meiji The Chocolate Brazil Cacao 70%/明治 ザ・チョコレートブラジルカカオ70 50g
Meiji The Chocolate Peru Cacao 70%/明治 ザ・チョコレートペルーカカオ70 50g
Meiji The Chocolate Dominican Republic 70%/明治 ザ・チョコレートドミニカ共和国カカオ70 50g

However, Meiji The Chocolate Venezuela Cacao 55%/明治 ザ・チョコレートベネズエラカカオ55 50g and the Meiji The Chocolate Brazil Cacao 55%/明治 ザ・チョコレートブラジルカカオ55 50g are not vegan as they both list dairy as an ingredient (not just as cross-contamination). 

Meiji The Chocolate Venezuela Cacao 55%    Meiji The Chocolate Brazil Cacao 55%

• Nikkoh Cacao 70% Chocolate/ニッコー カカオ70%チョコレート(110g). Ingredients: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa powder, emulsifier (derived from soy), flavoring.

Photo from website.

Nikkoh Cacao 70%

The grocery store chain Bio C’ Bon (located in Kanagawa Prefecture and Tokyo) has bulk chocolate imported from France. Photos taken in November 2020. 

• Organic Agave Chocolate Dark Cacao 70%. Ingredients: Organic cacao mass (Peru), organic agave powder (Mexico), organic cacao butter, organic vanilla powder. 

Bio C Bon Organic Agave Chocolate Dark Cacao

• Organic Almond Milk Cacao 58%. Ingredients: Organic cocoa butter (Peru), organic coconut sugar, organic cacao mass, organic hazelnuts, organic defatted almond milk powder, organic agave inulin. 

Bio C Bon Organic Almond Milk Cacao

• 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/flavoring.

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.”

They can be found at many convenience stores and drugstores across Japan.

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

As Otsuka Pharmaceuticals is a pharmaceutical company, they surely do animal testing, but we don’t have information on if this specific product was developed using animal testing.

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.” According to the product pages, the “product contains dairy” warning means (from autotranslate): “* Dairy products are not used as the main ingredient of “Veggie Chocolate Line”. However, the same equipment is used to manufacture some of the raw materials that contain milk components, and it is difficult to completely remove them due to the manufacturing process, so we are alerting people with food allergies.”

The “vegie” flavors of chocolate you may find are Bitter Lemon Peel, Bitter Pomegranate, Organic Bitter, Organic Coconut Milk, Peru 75, and the seasonal item White Hazelmilk (fall/winter only). They have organic JAS certification.

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

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.

The photo below was taken at Idee Shop, Shibuya Hikarie, Tokyo in February 2020.

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• 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.

Product contains dairy.

Manufactured with common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

20190315_191709 (2)

• 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). 

Product contains dairy.

Manufactured on common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

people tree 3 chocolates (5)

• 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. 

Product contains dairy.

Manufactured on common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

20190315_191709 (3)

• 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.

Product contains dairy.

Manufactured on common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

people tree 3 chocolates (3)

• 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.

Product contains dairy. 

Manufactured on common equipment with products including wheat, peanuts, oranges, cashew nuts, and rice.

people tree 3 chocolates (4)

As of November 2020, People Tree has added another flavor to their lineup of Vegie chocolates, White Hazelmilk. It’s marked on the People Tree website as available in Hokkaido, Honshu, Shikoku, and Kyushu (excluding Amami), and is also available for online purchase. It’s a limited-edition product only for fall and winter. It seems as if the “contains dairy as part of ingredients” warning on this flavor as well may simply be warning of cross-contamination from dairy. The item listing specifically states the items in this Vegie series do not contain animal ingredients: dōubutsusei genryou fushiyou no Bege series/動物性原料不使用のベジシリーズ.

• People Tree Fair Trade Bar Chocolate, White Hazelmilk 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 ホワイト・ヘーゼルミルク. Ingredients: Organic crude sugar, organic cocoa butter, organic hazelnuts, organic inulin, salt, vanilla flavor. (Contains dairy as part of ingredients.) Organic JAS certification. Manufactured on common equipment with products including wheat, buckwheat, eggs, peanuts, almonds, oranges, cashew nuts, kiwis, walnuts, bananas, peaches, and apples.

Photo taken in December 2020. 

People Tree Fair Trade Bar Chocolate, White Hazelmilk

The following chocolate is imported from Malaysia. It was spotted at a branch of Aeon in August 2020.

• Sincero 72% High Cacao Chocolate/Sincero 72% ハイカカオチョコレート. Ingredients: Cocoa mass, cocoa butter, sugar, cocoa powder/emulsifer (contains soybeans), flavoring.

sincero chocolate (2)    sincero chocolate back of package (2)

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: Cocoa mass, sugar, cocoa butter, emulsifier (Product contains milk and soybeans.)

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.

20190414_194011 (2)    20190414_194017 (2)

This Belgian Seijo Ishii Single Origin Chocolate was found in February 2021 and is reported confirmed by the company’s customer service to not contain dairy as an ingredient, only from cross-contamination during manufacturing (package marked product contains dairy/一部に乳成分を含む).

Seijo Ishii Single Origin Chocolate Cacao 71% Dark Ecuador成城石井シングルオリジンチョコレートエクアドル(カカオ分71%). Ingredients: Cacao mass (cocoa beans (Ecuador)), sugar, cocoa butter/flavoring.

Product contains dairy.

Factory handles products that contain wheat. 

Seijo Ishii single origin chocolate    Seijo Ishii single origin chocolate back of package

This Terravita Dark Chocolate, found in a branch of Daiso in December 2020, states it’s in 100% recyclable packaging. Typical for chocolates sold in Japan, the Japanese ingredient panel states it contains dairy, but the English ingredient list only says “may contain milk” and other ingredients, so it seems it may only be cross-contamination. We’ve reproduced the English ingredient list below.

• Terravita Dark Chocolate/テラビータダークチョコレート. Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass, cocoa butter, fat-reduced cocoa powder, emulsifiers: lecithins (from soy), E476, flavour.

May contain milk, cereals containing gluten (wheat, barley), peanuts, almonds, hazelnuts and cashews.

terravita dark chocolate    terravita dark chocolate ingredient list

The following product was found in the “allergy” section of an AEON store. It’s made without the top 7 allergens required to be listed by law (egg, dairy, wheat, peanut, soba, shrimp, and crab).

TopValu Dairy Free Chocolate/TopValu まろやかチョコレート. Ingredients: Sugar, cocoa mass,vegetable oil, cocoa powder/emulsifier, flavoring.

It isn’t clear what the emulsifier in this product is made of.

The website and package, as of February 2020, both state that this product uses beet sugar (not genetically modified).

The listed ingredients are the same as the Aff x Nikkoh Allergen-Free Dark Chocolate at the top of the page, but that one is listed as free of the 27 allergenic ingredients, and it doesn’t say what kind of sugar is used.

topvalu 7 free chocolate front of package    topvalu 7 free chocolate back of package

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

The three UHA Mikakuto Happy Dates bar flavors are all free of the top 27 allergenic substances. We’ll only detail the most chocolate-y tasting of the three bars here. For information on the others, check the blog’s Snack Foods section.

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

Chocolate brownie-flavored bars with dates as the main ingredient. Milk, egg, wheat and refined sugar-free. Sweet with the flavor of roasted almonds. Uses salt from an island in Okinawa. The taste is quite chocolatey.

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The UHA Mikakuto Vegan Cacao Bars are from the same company as the Happy Dates bars and feature three similar flavors, but with more stripped-down ingredient lists. The Roasted Almond flavor of the UHA Vegan Cacao Bars appears to be the equivalent of the Happy Dates Chocolate Brownie.

• UHA Mikakuto Vegan Cacao Bar, Roasted Almond /UHA ビーガンカカオばー ローストアーモンド.Ingredients: Date paste (dates (from Iran)), cacao mass, jaggery, almonds, cocoa powder, salt (sea salt from Miyakojima).

Product contains almonds.

UHA Vegan Cacao Bar Roasted Almond

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. The product page links are in English.

• Vivani Almond Orange/Mandel Orange. Ingredients: Raw cane sugar*, cocoa butter*, cocoa mass*, rice drink powder* (rice syrup*, dried) 14%, almonds, chopped* 4 %, granulated orange*3%, hazelnut paste*, orange essential oil*, bourbon vanilla extract*.cocoa solids: 40 % min.

* from organic agriculture certified by (DE-ÖKO-013)

May contain components of other shell fruits, milk and gluten.
(see allergen information) (English-language link).

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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.”

20180613_130230.jpg

Vivani Strawberry Wafer Crunch Bar/Vivani Erdbeer Waffel Crunch. Ingredients: Cocoa butter*, raw cane sugar*, rice drink powder* (rice syrup*, dried) 17,5 %, tiger nuts (ground), strawberry powder 3 %, pieces of wafer* 2,5 % (wheat flour*, emulsifier: soy lecithin*, sunflower oil*, sea salt), natural flavor* (strawberry taste), sea salt, bourbon vanilla pod* (ground).
* from organic agriculture

Contains soy & nuts.

May contain components of tree nuts and milk. (Due to cross contamination)

White rice milk chocolate with strawberry. Labeled vegan in English on the package.

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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.

20190208_122441

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

Bourbon Petit Bit Cacao 70    20190130_175426

• Glico Pocky. It’s been reported that as of 2017, their customer service stated they do not make any vegan Pocky in Japan.

• 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. It contains something called “yeast food,” and it is unclear if that is vegan or not.

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

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

20190211_161040.jpg    20190211_160903.jpg

• 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.

20190211_160936    20190130_175352.jpg

• 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.

20190130_175445 edited  20190130_175456

• 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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 HOT CHOCOLATE/COCOA POWDER

The product page of this Meito Almond Cocoa states that milk ingredients are not used. Photo taken April 2021 in a branch of Life supermarket.  

Meito Almond Cocoa/名糖 アーモンドココア. Ingredients: Sugar (manufactured overseas), cocoa powder (cocoa butter 14-16%), dextrin, almond milk powder (processed almond), salt/flavoring, vitamin E, emulsifier.

Product contains almonds. 

Meito Almond Cocoa

The following product is cocoa powder from the Netherlands. 

•  Morinaga Pure Cocoa/森永 純ココア. Ingredients: Cocoa powder.

Photo from website.

Morinaga Pure Cocoa

Van Houten Pure Cocoa/バンホーテン ピュア ココア. Ingredients: Cocoa powder.

Photo from website.

Van Houten Cocoa

10 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
  4. Pingback: Vegan recipes Japan Vegan Rice Crisps Chocolate - Vegan recipes Japan

  5. ShD

    The new version of Asahi ippon manzoku has dairy in it. So people might be mistakenly buying it since it still looks similar on the outside. Just a reminder.

    Reply
    1. isitveganjapan Post author

      Hello, thanks for your comment. Per the company, although the packaging of the new version has the wording down differently, the dairy is still only possible cross-contamination and not an actual ingredient. We’ll update the listing.

      Reply
    1. isitveganjapan Post author

      Hello, thank you for your comment. The only one we have been able to identify as possibly vegan is the Kit Kat Sublime Bitter, listed on this page. There are a lot of listings here on the Chocolate page, but you can find it by hitting “Control F” and then searching for it.

      Reply

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