Is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Vegan and Cruelty-Free?

September 25, 2023

Identifying whether Hershey’s dark chocolate is vegan can be a rather intricate task.

Chocolate often includes non-vegan ingredients, and some of them can be hard to identify or have a murky vegan status.

However, this article aims to unravel the truth and guide you, our reader, in your compassionate, vegan lifestyle journey.

Is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Vegan?

No, Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate is not vegan because it contains milk fat. It’s true that dark chocolate is not the same as milk chocolate, but this particular formula still contains milk. Even though the chocolate contains less than 2% milk fat, it still disqualifies this product from being vegan.

Is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Cruelty-Free?

When it comes to being cruelty-free, Hershey’s Special Dark just falls short. The good news is that Hershey’s is verified by the non-GMO project, which means none of the ingredients in this product come from GMOs, which are tested on animals.

However, the dairy industry is notorious for its inhumane and cruel practices involving cows. You can’t call something cruelty-free if it involved the mistreatment of live animals.

So no, Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate is not cruelty-free.

What Is Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Made Of?

Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate is a favorite among chocolate lovers worldwide. The deep, rich flavor of this chocolate treat is achieved by a specific blend of ingredients that each play a vital role in its composition. Here’s a quick overview of what makes up a bar of Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Chips:

  • Sugar
  • Chocolate
  • Cocoa butter
  • Cocoa processed with alkali
  • Milk fat
  • Soy lecithin
  • Natural flavor (vanillin)


Sugar is a sweet crystalline substance obtained from various plants, especially sugar cane and sugar beet. It’s primarily used as a sweetener in Hershey’s Dark Chocolate. Sugar is not derived from animals, so it’s considered vegan. However, some vegans may avoid sugar processed with bone char, which is an issue for some sugar manufacturers, although not all use this method.


The chocolate in Hershey’s Dark Chocolate is a blend of cocoa beans, sugar, and other ingredients to create the base chocolate flavor. Cocoa beans are harvested from the cacao tree, which is native to the tropical regions of Central and South America.

As a plant-based ingredient, it is vegan. However, cross-contamination with dairy products may occur in facilities, so strict vegans should be aware of this.

Cocoa Butter

Cocoa butter is a type of fat that comes from cocoa beans. It’s what gives chocolate its smooth, creamy texture. Cocoa butter is vegan because it is plant derived.

Cocoa Processed With Alkali

Also known as “Dutch-processed cocoa,” this ingredient is cocoa that has been treated with an alkali solution to neutralize its acidity, enhancing its rich, chocolatey flavor. This process does not involve any animal products, making it suitable for a vegan diet.

Milk Fat

Milk fat is derived from dairy milk and is used to give Hershey’s Dark Chocolate its creamy texture and taste. It comes from dairy cows, which makes it non-vegan.

Soy lecithin

Soy lecithin is an emulsifier, a substance that helps mix water and fat. It’s used in chocolate to create a smooth texture. The lecithin in Hershey’s Dark Chocolate comes from soybeans, a plant source, and is therefore vegan.

Natural Flavor (Vanillin)

Vanillin is a flavor compound found in vanilla beans. In the case of Hershey’s Dark Chocolate, the vanillin is synthesized from other plant materials and is used to enhance the chocolate’s flavor. It is not derived from animals and is thus considered vegan. However, some might argue about the sustainability and environmental impact of synthetic vanillin production.

Hershey’s Special Dark Varieties

Are Hershey’s Special Dark Chocolate Kisses Vegan?

No, Hershey’s dark chocolate kisses contain the same milk fat percentage as any Hershey’s Special Dark.

Is Hershey’s Special Dark Organic Chocolate Candy Bar Vegan?

No, Hershey’s Special Dark Organic Chocolate Candy Bar contains milk. It’s not vegan either.

Are Hershey’s Nuggets Dark Chocolate Truffles Candy Vegan?

No, these dark chocolate truffles contain milk. They are not suitable for a vegan diet.

Vegan Alternatives to Hershey’s Dark Chocolate

If you’re craving that Special Dark chocolate bar or those delectable dark chocolate kisses but want to ensure you’re adhering to your vegan food principles, don’t despair. There are plenty of vegan dark chocolates and vegan chocolate brands on the market. Look for products from these specialty dark chocolate brands:

  • Hu Kitchen: They provide a variety of vegan chocolates, with their dark chocolate bars being a popular choice. They use organic, non-GMO ingredients and their chocolates are free from dairy and other animal products.


While Hershey’s does offer a selection of dark chocolates, including its popular dark chocolate kisses and Special Dark chocolate bars, unfortunately, these products are not vegan. This is due to the presence of dairy derivatives, such as milk fat.

As for being cruelty-free, Hershey’s practices are not entirely free from animal agriculture involvement, even if they are, for the most part, non-GMO.

However, there are plenty of delicious vegan alternative brands available, allowing you to savor the rich, indulgent taste of dark chocolate while keeping in line with your vegan lifestyle.