Before I dive into all the chocolaty goodness, I need to share how the idea for this post was conceived. It was a mixture of a trip to the Worcester, MA VegFest, combined with my wife's insatiable love of sweets. Mind you, Michelle loves the savory side of life, but Willy Wonka has nothing on her sweet tooth.
To keep Michelle happy, post-veganism, I found myself seeking out every vegan cake, cookie, donut & candy known to man. There are way more than I wish there were (for the sake of my own waistline), and the list is growing almost daily.
Upon deciding to go to Worcester's VegFest, we were mainly excited about three things. Freebies, Terry Hope's demo, & Maple Farm Sanctuary's table. Freebies are self explanatory & there were many great ones, from brownie bites to hommus packets. As for Terry Hope, if you've been a vegan for at least 6 months, you should already know & love her. When I initially sought help with my vegan culinary vocabulary, I quickly became enamored with Terry Hope Romero & Isa Chandra Moskowitz, the dynamic vegan duo (if you've checked the resources page of this blog, you probably knew that). They're vegan cooking goddesses, who are brilliant, passionate, funny & very relatable. Vegan or not, if you love to cook, you owe it to yourself to get acquainted with them.
Maple Farm Sanctuary, the third reason for excitement, holds a special place in our hearts. After a sad experience in high school, I learned how beautiful & sensitive cows are & always felt a deep love for them. When we went vegan, & after witnessing the horrors that these sentient beings endure, Michelle quickly developed a serious fondness for cows, as well. Soon after converting, she asked about visiting a sanctuary. I did a quick search & found that Maple Farm Sanctuary was within driving distance. The story behind this place is pretty amazing (the owners actually ran a regular farm, before turning it into a sanctuary. I encourage you to check out their site). What sold me & made us want to visit them was Cassie's story. Cassie is a tortured soul that the kind people of MFS are respectfully allowing to live out her life in peace, on her own terms! Our hearts went out to her immediately. After meeting her, Michelle was moved to the point of getting a tattoo that's in tribute to Cassie.
We actually found out about the VegFest through MFS's Facebook page so we were excited to go and show them some support. When we found their table, we were greeted by Jake & Laurie, two MFS volunteers. Michelle showed them her Cassie tattoo, which instantly moved Laurie to tears. A kindred spirit, for sure!
Michelle then urged me to show them my own cow tattoo, which I did. There is a strange story behind her (that I'll save for another time, because I'm already running long), but she is also in tribute to a cow (Buddha) that we met at The Gentle Barn.
As you can see, Buddha is in the form of a superhero (the H stands for Herbivore). The superhero depiction seemed to strongly resonate with Jake, who asked to take a picture. I was happy & flattered, & of course I agreed. However, it wasn't until I visited his blog that I fully understood why he seemed so floored by my Super Buddha. You see, his blog (PlayWithMyFood.com) is a vegan blog like no other!!! Every post involves references to, & fabulous photos of, his collection of superhero action figures (and the villains that they face). Frankly, I think a smart publisher should turn his whimsical blog into a book, pronto!
A few days after VegFest, Jake put up an Earth Day post, which discussed his love of chocolate (finally!, I'm getting to the chocolate). Poor Jake didn't know how much vegan chocolate is actually out there & was dependent on Whole Foods' chocolate chips for his fix. It broke my food obsessed heart & I immediately left a comment that included more vegan options for him. I knew then that I had to share all this chocolaty bliss with you, as well.
For those unaware, far too many American chocolates are made with cow's milk (or a derivative of said cow's milk). It's commonly believed by many vegans that dark chocolate is safe, which is generally true with foreign made dark chocolate, but that's not necessarily the case with mainstream candy in this country. American palates are so use to milk chocolate, candy makers feel the need to muck up dark chocolate, too. ACK!
Then there is the bone char issue, when it comes to processed sugar. I'm not going to go down that road. I respect both sides of the debate. For those who actively avoid it, even if the chocolate in question isn't specifically labeled vegan, know that as long as the sugar is organic, it has not been filtered with bone char. The use of bone char is not approved for organic certification. It is also not used in the making of beet sugar, or raw sugar cane.
Morbidity out of the way, lets feast on some sweet, chocolaty goodness! Here is an edited version of the comment that I left for Jake:
Vegan chocolate is everywhere. From chocolate chips, to candy bars, to peanut butter cups. The list of vegan chocolate treats is growing almost daily (try searching CosmosVeganShoppe.com).
Sunspire, available in many grocery stores, has chocolate chips & some candy offerings that are vegan.
As for white chocolate chips, there is at least one retail, vegan white chocolate chip, but there may very well be more. Please feel free to add any additional brands that you know of in the comments.
Enjoy Life, also widely available, makes rice milk chocolate bars, as well as 2 kinds of chocolate chips (mini & mega). The list of rice milk offerings is also rapidly growing. Just do a Google search. There are also more regular vegan chocolate chips, but they aren’t all labeled. Check the organic, health food section of any grocery store or co-op.
(Psst! FYI, Enjoy Life make a bunch of other vegan snacks & sweets, too.)
Additionally, there are Go Max Go candy bars, which are popping up all over the place. They make mock versions of major candy bars. Our favorite is Mahalo, a mock Almond Joy, that seems to be the favorite among our twitter friends, as well.
Then there's Justin’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups, also sprouting up everywhere. These now rule my sweet tooth! (Homemade PB cups are pretty darn awesome, btw. I intend to share a recipe soon, but there are lots of them online, if you’re interested.)
Lastly, Sweet & Sara makes rocky road bark that will make your eyes roll back in your head. EVERYTHING she makes is amazing. I'm pretty fanatical about her S'mores, too (peanut butter, especially). Her treats are available in a growing number of places, but if you can’t find them, they're available online, as is everything else that I’ve mentioned.
If there is anything that you can’t find & simply must have, please feel free to ask! I also highly recommend supporting the sanctuaries that I've mentioned, or one that may be closer to you. Even if you can't donate money, you can donate your time. All of them need help, and you get paid back with love & adoration from each of the residents. Now that's SWEET!