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Is Cocoa Butter Vegan? Yes. Still, Read the Fine Print


The cocoa tree is probably one of the most loved trees, as it gives us some of our favorite ingredients. Cocoa butter is extracted from the cacao bean. The cacao bean is also the main ingredient for chocolate, cacao powder (hello, hot cocoa!), and our luscious body butter. If you love these products as well, but are wondering whether they suit your vegan lifestyle, it’s time to relax. Yes, they are all vegan! There’s no trace of dairy in there. 

  • What is cocoa butter?
  • Is cocoa butter vegan?
  • Is cocoa and cocoa butter the same?
  • Is there a difference between cocoa and cacao?
  • Does cocoa butter contain dairy? Is cocoa butter dairy-free?
  • Is there cocoa in cocoa butter?
  • Is cocoa suitable for vegans?
  • The cocoa butter in cosmetics: is it vegan?
  • Body Butter Arabica Coffee & Cocoa
  • Shea & Cocoa Butter Moisturizing Lotion

What is cocoa butter?

Cocoa butter is obtained from the seeds of the cacao tree. From the cocoa beans, a fat is extracted: theobroma oil, aka cocoa butter. Because it has “butter” in its name, people often wonder if cocoa butter contains dairy. Its texture and the way it looks can also trick you into thinking it’s not suitable for a vegan diet. Cocoa butter comes in pale yellow buttery colors, with a similar texture and consistency to dairy butter. But this is where the similarities end.

Cocoa butter is a fat extracted from the cocoa bean. A dense oil results from raw cacao left to ferment. This oil has a pale yellow color and a rich cocoa flavor. Cocoa beans are fermented, dried, and roasted. The oil obtained from them is cocoa butter, a popular ingredient in skincare and, uhm, chocolate. The remnants (cocoa solids or cocoa mass) are used to obtain cocoa powder. 

Is cocoa butter vegan?

When cocoa butter is extracted from the fermented beans of the cacao pod it is 100% vegan. There is no form of animal exploitation or cruelty involved in obtaining cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is sourced entirely from a tree. While, traditionally, chocolate is made with dairy, there are many vegan chocolate recipes you can try. And plenty of skincare products respecting your way of life as well. Still, here are some things to keep in mind when reading the label of your next gulp, be it a mouthful of chocolate or a slathering of your decadent body butter:

  • Vegan ingredients present in cocoa butter: fatty acids - saturated, unsaturated, polyunsaturated. Saturated acids: stearic acid, palmitic acid, myristic acid, arachidic acid, lauric acid. Unsaturated fats: oleic acid, palmitoleic acid. Polyunsaturated acids: linoleic acid. These fatty acids are completely vegetarian fat. They are the reasons why cocoa butter is so rich, unctuous, decadent, and will melt in your mouth. The same vegetal fatty acids are responsible for cocoa butter’s deeply moisturizing, protecting, soothing and healing effects on the skin.
  • Non-vegan ingredients added to cocoa butter, in foods, especially: dairy, eggs, lecithin*. If you buy pure cocoa butter, there will be no dairy, eggs, or gluten added. You can use this type of fat for cooking since it has a high burning point. It’s also a good source of antioxidants, minerals (magnesium, manganese, copper). *Lecithin can be of vegetal or animal source, so make sure to pay attention when you read the label.

Is cocoa and cocoa butter the same?

No. Cocoa butter is the fat extracted from the cacao bean. Cocoa usually refers to cocoa powder. And the cocoa powder is the remains that resulted after the oil is obtained. So, while they’ve shared the same “home” at some point, they are not the same. 

Is there a difference between cocoa and cacao?

We can say “cocoa” is just the anglicized version of the Latin “cacao”. Still, while the words are often used interchangeably, they do not mean the same thing. Chocolate makers make a clear distinction between the two. Cacao describes the plant. Cocoa refers to anything that has been processed - chocolate bars, cocoa powder, cocoa butter. 

Does cocoa butter contain dairy? Is cocoa butter dairy-free?

One of the main concerns of people choosing veganism is the dairy content in cocoa butter. While it’s called butter, it’s a vegetal one. Cocoa butter, in its pure form, is 100% dairy-free. 

Is there cocoa in cocoa butter?

No! Although the names might be misleading, cocoa is separated from butter. Cocoa powder is made from the remains of the cacao pods after the oil, aka cocoa butter, has been extracted. 

Is cocoa suitable for vegans?

Yes. Cocoa powder, in its raw form, is vegan. The beans are left to ferment and we get the oil, aka butter. After the butter has been separated from the bean, the bean is roasted and dried. After that, the beans are ground into cocoa powder. So, at this point, cocoa powder is 100% vegan. Still, it’s better to check the package when buying it. That's how you make sure it doesn’t contain non-vegan additives. 

The cocoa butter in cosmetics: is it vegan?

Cocoa butter has many health benefits. Both when ingested, as well as when it’s used topically. In skincare products, cocoa butter is highly hydrating. Due to its fatty acid composition, cocoa butter moisturizes and protects the skin. Usually, products containing cocoa butter are from vegetal sources. As usual, you should still check if the label doesn’t mention any non-vegan additives. Also, we recommend you check if the products have been tested on animals. 

Here are a couple of 100% vegan and cruelty free cocoa butter products you can safely use to pamper your body: 

Body Butter Arabica Coffee & Cocoa

Not only this body butter containing cocoa butter is 100% plant-sourced, but it’s also cruelty-free. So we recommend it if you adopted a vegan lifestyle. Harnessing the power of plants, this body butter containing cocoa and Arabica coffee has nourishing effects, promoting healthy skin. It’s rich in antioxidants and vitamin B3, soothing the skin and giving it a smooth texture.

Shea & Cocoa Butter Moisturizing Lotion

This body lotion is also vegan and made from natural, plant-based ingredients. It’s also cruelty-free and ideal for a 100% vegan lifestyle. Shea & cocoa butter moisturizing lotion is filled with nutrients your skin needs and it’s great for any skin type. Yes, sensitive skin and dry skin included. It has anti-aging effects, provides intense moisture, and leaves the skin replenished and supple. It boosts collagen production, heals damage, seals in moisture, and soothes inflammation.

In conclusion: is cocoa butter vegan? Yes! Does cocoa butter suit a vegan diet? Also, yes! Can cosmetics containing cocoa butter be used by people choosing a vegan lifestyle? Yes, again. Provided you make sure the label is clean - chemically and ethically. We’re glad we could bring you some peace of mind. Not the same as nibbling on some chocolate, but still.

Iulia Claudia Dumitru

I feel happy when I get to tell meaningful stories. About people. About the world. About life. About what people need to feel good. Healthy food, a balanced lifestyle, a grateful approach to relationships with others and ourselves. That is how I keep myself grounded and purposeful. That is how I aim to contribute: striving to make ourselves the best we can. Creating life in the little things. Living every day with the joy, wonder, and curiosity of a child. Trying to #seeKbeauty. Inside and out.

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