How many times have you strolled through the confectionery isle of your retail supermarket and casually tossed a chocolate bar into your shopping cart, without even a cursory glance at its list of ingredients? If you are an experimental buyer, always eager to try the newest chocolate offerings, and especially if you are a vegetarian, it’s time to say goodbye to that lackadaisical approach to chocolate shopping!
It's delicious. It's healthy. But will it offend your vegetarian principles?
India is the “standout market” for confectionery products in the world, with a dominating chocolate presence that is valued to cross the US one billion Dollar mark by 2018. To capitalize on this bullish trend, foreign chocolate brands are thronging Indian shores, flooding shelves with new and unusual chocolate variants. In this rapidly transforming “chocolate climate” of a country with the largest concentration of pure vegetarians anywhere in the world, it’s only fair to ask – Is chocolate vegetarian or non-vegetarian?
Some chocolates contain non-vegetarian products such as egg
Pure Chocolate is derived from the fruit of the Cacao tree, and is therefore plant-based, hence entirely vegetarian. But as this natural chocolate goes through various processes for conversion into bars and other chocolate products, many extra ingredients are added. These additives are not always vegetarian, particularly in the case of imported chocolates, since they are not specifically made with the Indian consumer in mind. Commonly used non-vegetarian ingredients in these chocolates are egg white or albumen, egg lecithin, shellac, calf rennet and gelatin.
Most chocolates are vegetarian, but it’s always best to check the label
All men are created equal, but all chocolate is not!
So, should vegetarians give up chocolate altogether? Absolutely not! The good news is that the vast majority of chocolates are, in fact, suitable for vegetarians. To distinguish, you do not necessarily need to pore over the often long and confusing list of ingredients.
Look for the green mark to ensure vegetarian compliance
According to the Food Safety and Standards Authority of India, all packaged food products must be labelled with a mandatory symbol to separate vegetarian from non-vegetarian items – vegetarian food is denoted with a green dot and non-vegetarian food with a brown one. The guidelines follow the common Indian perception of vegetarianism: egg is clubbed in the non-vegetarian category, whereas honey, milk and milk-products are deemed vegetarian.
For complete peace of mind, try making your own chocolate at home
If you want to go a step further and truly embody the hearty and healthy principles of vegetarianism, you must give homemade chocolates a try. Chocolate made with the finest ingredients, infused with herbs, dipped in fresh fruit, covered with an assortment of nutritious nuts – if that sounds appealing to your veggie taste buds, then come on in, we’ll get you started!