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Are Trader Joes Chocolate Chips Vegan? (Answered)

Are Trader Joes Chocolate Chips Vegan

There are more and more vegan options making their way into our grocery stores these days, but they are not always clearly labeled in the way that you would like. Even looking at the packaging it can be hard to tell, are Trader Joe’s chocolate chips vegan?

Both Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Chips and Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips should be vegan as neither is made with animal products, and they are marketed as dairy free. They are not officially labeled as vegan, though, and it is possible that some of the sugar they use may be processed with animal products.

Read ahead to find out exactly how vegan these chocolate chips are so that you can decide whether they are right for you or best avoided!

What Does It Mean to Be Vegan?

To understand why it is perhaps more complicated than it might seem to decide whether these particular chocolate chips are actually vegan, we need to talk about the nature of veganism first.

Being vegan is not a one-size-fits-all philosophy, and many people have slightly different interpretations of what it means. Fundamentally, veganism is a dietary practice in which you only eat food that has not been derived from animals in any way. This might simply involve not eating:

  • Meat
  • Dairy
  • Honey
  • Eggs

For some vegans, however, this can also mean staying away from any and all products that have been produced through animal testing. It might also extend to non-food products – like leather, plastics made with animal fat, or even medication that is coated in gelatin.

The tricky part of being vegan is that some ingredients and products are derived from animals in unexpected ways.

Some breweries use animal-based fish gelatin and isinglass to clarify their beer, some fake meats are made with egg whites, and some bagels even contain a conditioning agent made from duck and chicken feathers known as cysteine.

Vegans and Chocolate

Chocolate is obviously a bit of a problem for any vegan since a lot of it is made with milk or milk powder.

With that being said, dairy is far from essential in the process, so there are many chocolate products that are completely vegan – simply using sugar, cocoa, and non-animal emulsifiers and/or flavoring. Dark chocolate, in particular, is often free from dairy, although this is not always the case.

For many vegans, the absence of dairy in the ingredients list is enough to feel comfortable eating a brand of chocolate – but that doesn’t necessarily mean that absolutely no animals were involved in the process.

What Chocolate Chips Does Trader Joe’s Sell?

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The chocolate chips that Trader Joe’s sells are a pretty standard option. They are simple, chocolatey, and ideal for baking. You will find two different options in their stores most of the time, although they do also bring in a third kind for seasonal offers.

  • Trader Joe’s Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips
  • Trader Joe’s Dark Chocolate Chips
  • Trader Joe’s White Chocolate Baking Chips (seasonal)

They are all pretty well reviewed, especially considering two of the three are made without using any dairy. The dark chocolate variety is intense but not too bitter, and the semi-sweet chips are balanced without being overpoweringly sugary.

To check the current price and availability of Trader Joe’s, Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips, click here to view the listing on Amazon.

What Are In Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chips?

The question of how vegan these chocolate chips are obviously comes down to the ingredients, although we should first look at the claims that are made on the packaging.

Both the Semi-Sweet and Dark chocolate chips are labeled as dairy-free and gluten-free, which may be enough to satisfy most vegans that they are safe to eat. The White Chocolate chips, however, contain milk and are definitely not vegan.

If you are strict about your veganism, however, then you will notice that Trader Joe’s does not claim their chips to be vegan, so what ingredients are they using that might not be?

The ingredients in the chocolate chips at Trader Joe’s are:

Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips

  • Cane sugar
  • Unsweetened chocolate
  • Cocoa butter
  • Soy lecithin
  • Vanilla extract

Dark Chocolate Chips

  • Unsweetened chocolate
  • Cane sugar
  • Sunflower lecithin
  • Vanilla extract

White Chocolate Baking Chips

  • Cane sugar
  • Cocoa butter
  • Whole milk powder
  • Nonfat dry milk
  • Milk fat
  • Soy lecithin
  • Vanilla extract

Why Might Trader Joe’s Chocolate Chips Not Be Vegan?

So, the White Chocolate Baking Chips are 100% non-vegan because they contain three separate milk products, but the other chocolate chips have a slim chance of not being strictly vegan either.

Trader Joe’s has stated in the past that the sugar they use for their chocolate chips comes from different sources, some of which may use bone char for processing and refining. In that sense, the sugar in these chocolate chips may not be entirely vegan, which is why Trader Joe’s does not label them as such.

Depending on how rigorous you want to be with the foods you avoid, you may want to look for other options.

What Chocolate Chips Are Vegan?

Fortunately, there are many chocolate products out there that make a concerted effort to ensure that every ingredient that they use is completely vegan-friendly.

Some of the most popular chocolate chip brands that make fully vegan options include:

  • Enjoy Life
  • Evolved
  • Artisan Kettle Organic
  • Equal Exchange
  • Endangered Species
  • Pascha

Trader Joe’s even sells fully vegan chocolate themselves, although not in chip form. Their Organic Almond Beverage Chocolate Bars and their Oat Chocolate Bars are both vegan products.

Frequently Asked Questions

What Trader Joe’s Chocolate Is Vegan?

Trader Joe’s Oat Chocolate Bars and Organic Almond Beverage Chocolate Bars are both completely vegan. Their dark chocolate and some of their other chocolate are made without dairy, but the sugar included may be processed with animal products.

Which Brands of Chocolate Chips Are Vegan?

Some of the chocolate chip brands that make vegan options include Enjoy Life, Evolved, Artisan Kettle Organic, Equal Exchange, Endangered Species, and Pascha.

How Do You Know if Chocolate Chips Are Vegan?

To tell whether chocolate chips are vegan or not, you can first look for any dairy ingredients listed. Even dairy-free chocolate may not be strictly vegan, though, if the sugar has been processed with animal products.

Final Thoughts

So, are Trader Joe’s chocolate chips vegan? Both the Dark and Semi-Sweet chocolate chips that Trader Joe’s sells are made without dairy, so they could be considered vegan. However, there is a chance that the sugar they use has been processed with bone char – which is an animal product.

Their White Chocolate Baking chips, on the other hand, are definitely not vegan, as they are made with milk.

If you are strict about steering clear of every kind of animal product, then there are many fully vegan brands that you could turn to instead.


Shane is a fitness enthusiast who also has a passion for trying and cooking new foods. His favorite stores to shop at include Trader Joe's, Wholefoods Market, Sprouts, Stater Brothers, and Target.

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