Is Dunkin’ Hot Chocolate Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

July 31, 2023

Deciphering whether or not a product is vegan can feel like trying to solve a complex puzzle. 

The obscurity arises from manufacturers that often mask the true nature and source of their ingredients. 

Fear not, this article is here to expose the truth, support you in your vegan journey, and ensure you’re doing the right thing for our beloved planet and its inhabitants.

Is Dunkin’ Hot Chocolate Vegan?

Regrettably, Dunkin’ Donuts’ hot chocolate drinks are not vegan. The culprit behind its non-vegan status lies in the presence of two main ingredients: dairy milk and sugar refined using bone char.

Is Dunkin’ Hot Chocolate Cruelty-Free?

Given the presence of dairy products and bone char-refined sugar, Dunkin’ Donuts’ hot chocolate cannot be classified as cruelty-free. Dairy farming and bone char production are practices that involve the exploitation of animals, which fundamentally conflicts with the ethos of a cruelty-free lifestyle.

What Is Dunkin’s Hot Chocolate Made Of?

Navigating the world of ingredients can be daunting. Here’s a simplified rundown of what Dunkin’s hot cocoa comprises:

  • Sugar
  • Dairy milk
  • Cocoa
  • Artificial and natural flavors


While often seen as a simple ingredient, sugar has a complex background. It’s derived from sugarcane or sugar beet, but during refining, bone char (charred animal bones) can be used to achieve its white color. Therefore, the sugar used in Dunkin’s hot cocoa isn’t considered vegan or cruelty-free.

Dairy milk

A key component in Dunkin’s hot cocoa, dairy milk is obtained from cows. As vegans abstain from animal products, and dairy farming is widely associated with animal exploitation, dairy milk is neither vegan nor cruelty-free.


Cocoa is a plant-based ingredient derived from the beans of the cacao tree. It’s inherently vegan and cruelty-free, assuming ethical farming practices are used.

Artificial and natural flavors

These can be a tricky bunch, as their sources aren’t always clear. They could be derived from plant, animal, or synthetic sources. Without specifics, we can’t confirm whether these are vegan or cruelty-free in Dunkin’s hot chocolate.

Vegan Alternatives to Dunkin’s Hot Chocolate

Fear not, there are still many vegan options among Dunkin’s menu items!

  • Almond milk, soy milk, or oat milk: These are excellent dairy-free options that you can use as a substitute for regular milk. Just watch out for flavor mixes and flavor shots, which are often made with animal-based ingredients.
  • Iced coffee and cold brew coffee: Delicious and refreshing, these are made vegan-friendly by using plant-based milk and skipping the usual whipped cream.
  • Vanilla Chai and Chai Latte: Choose these with plant-based milk and ensure the chai tea syrup is bone char free.

Keep clear of the hot or iced Matcha Latte — the matcha powder mix contains sugar that may have been processed with bone char. A few of the flavor shots also have sugar, the Mocha Swirl, for example, so you should avoid those as well.

Many of the Flavor Shots at Dunkin’ are vegan, and you can add one to any beverage. Here are the vegan Flavor Shots at Dunkin’ Donuts:

  • Vanilla
  • Hazelnut
  • Toasted almond
  • Blueberry
  • Raspberry
  • Coconut

Additionally, the Beyond Sausage Sandwich (hold the egg and cheese) on an English Muffin is a filling vegan menu item. 

Unfortunately, Dunkin’ Donuts doesn’t serve vegan cream cheese again, so even though three of its bagels are vegan — Cinnamon Raisin, Plain, Everything, and Sesame — you’ll have to have them plain or bring your own vegan cream cheese. 

Oh, and you’re probably asking yourself, Are Dunkin’ Donuts vegan? No. Dunkin’ still doesn’t serve any vegan donuts. Not a single vegan donut. 


Despite the initial hope, Dunkin’s hot cocoa falls short of vegan and cruelty-free standards due to the inclusion of dairy milk and potentially non-vegan sugar. 

However, there’s no need to feel disheartened. There’s plenty that’s vegan at Dunkin’ Donuts, so you can enjoy both iced and hot beverages, as well as some vegan food options from the brand

Always remember to ask for dairy-free options and bone char-free sugar, and continue exploring the vast variety of vegan menu items available at Dunkin’ Donuts. Your commitment to a vegan lifestyle not only aids animal welfare but also contributes to the health of our precious planet. Keep being awesome!