Just glance at the label of most popular commercial chocolate products and you’ll see those famous three words: “Pure Milk Chocolate.” Companies advertise this very clearly because they know that most consumers associate “milk” with creaminess, decadence, and satisfaction. What they don’t tell you is where, exactly, the milk came from, or its quality, or whether or not the cows it came from were treated with BGH growth hormones or other troubling chemicals. Fortunately, for those among us who are concerned with the purity of what goes into our food, there are alternatives to traditional chocolate. These alternatives include soy chocolate, non-dairy chocolate, and vegetarian or vegan chocolate, and are fine tuned to be just as satisfying and creamy as “Pure Milk Chocolate”, but contain absolutely no dubious dairy ingredients.

So, how does soy chocolate differ from traditional milk chocolate? It’s quite simple, really. Chocolate, as we know it, is the combination of cocoa solids and cocoa fat. To keep these two different forms of cocoa together, chocolate producers use milk as an emulsifying agent. When it comes to producing soy chocolate, a replacement emulsifier is needed. For this, chocolate makers use hexane (a natural solvent) to extract lecithin from a soy bean. With soy lecithin as a stand in for traditional milk, you end up with delicious dairy free chocolate.

Soy chocolate is a great product for individuals who are looking to lose weight, but don’t want to have to give up their love of delicious chocolate. Soy chocolate generally has less fat and sugar than conventional chocolate, and due to the health conscious market that it is generally geared towards, soy chocolate is often sweetened with stevia or other alternative sweeteners rather than sugar. Soy also contains a variety of nutrients that dairy does not, such as vitamin E, calcium and amino acids. These are retained in the process of making soy chocolate.

Conventional chocolate often includes dairy in the form of heavy cream, which contains a great deal of cholesterol. Soy chocolate, on the other hand, can actually reduce bad cholesterol and increase good cholesterol. Soy chocolate allows one to access all of the beneficial aspects of the cacao bean, which include antioxidants that may prevent premature aging and certain types of cancer. Therefore, if you are looking to lose weight or improve your diet but do not want to give up chocolate, just switch to soy chocolate! This will support your body rather than damaging it!

While the variety of traditional chocolate is still far greater than that of soy chocolate, each year sees new additions to the non-dairy side of the chocolate world. Perhaps the most convenient form of soy chocolate is the vegan chocolate chip, the small size of which makes it perfect for measuring into recipes, melting for baked goods and candies, and adapting any recipe that contains chocolate to make it vegan. This explains why more and more bakers are turning to soy chocolate to meet the demands of their selective and health conscious clientele!