Is Bournville Vegan?

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Manufacturers may change their ingredients at any time so please always double-check for yourself before purchasing anything.

Dark chocolate can be a good option for vegans and those looking to avoid cows’ milk. However, some dark chocolate brands actually contain milk, just like milk chocolate does.

Even if dark chocolate is dairy-free, it may contain palm oil, which some vegans prefer to avoid. Additionally, some chocolate bars which have all vegan ingredients may potentially be contaminated with milk in the factory environment.

So, is Bournville vegan? Well, the answer is far from straightforward as Cadbury has changed the recipe several times in 2021.

Read on for all the details about what Cadbury Bournville chocolate is made from so that you can make your own decision about whether to eat it or not.

Bournville chocolate vegan

Is Bournville chocolate vegan?

Cadbury Bournville may or may not be suitable for vegans depending on the batch. Some bars of Bournville have skimmed milk powder in the ingredients, but others have all plant-based ingredients with a ‘may contain milk’ warning for allergy sufferers.

The only way to know for sure is to check the individual pack.

Why the confusion over whether Bournville is vegan?

Before 2021, Cadbury Bournville chocolate was generally suitable for vegans because it contained no milk or other animal-derived ingredients. However, because it’s made in the same factory as milk chocolate, there’s always been a potential for cross-contamination.

Around the middle of 2021, the recipe was changed and Cadbury added milk to the actual ingredients list on Bournville chocolate bars.

So, depending on when the chocolate was made, it may or may not have milk in the ingredients list.

Here are the ingredients which may be listed on the bars of classic Cadbury Bournville chocolate…

Cadbury Bournville ingredients:

Sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, vegetable fats (palm, shea), emulsifier (soya lecithin).


Sugar, cocoa butter, cocoa mass, palm oil, emulsifiers (soya lecithins, E476), skimmed milk powder.

In November 2021, Cadbury is launching the new Cadbury Plant Bar – a vegan alternative to Dairy Milk. Some sceptical vegans have suggested that the milk has been added to Bournville so that vegans will buy the new (more expensive) chocolate rather than sticking to Bournville.

Other things to consider with Bournville

Even if you pick up a bar that does not have milk in the ingredients and you don’t mind the potential cross-contamination, there are some other ingredients that you may want to pay attention to.

Let’s look at each of those ingredients and whether they are vegan friendly:

  • Sugar – Sugar that’s produced for the USA may contain bone char, but this doesn’t apply to Bournville as it’s made in the UK. All sugar used in products that are made outside of the US is vegan
  • Cocoa butter – This is the fat portion of the cocoa bean and it’s completely vegan
  • Cocoa mass – This is the key ingredient in all chocolate. It’s made from cocoa beans and is completely vegan
  • Vegetable fats (palm) – This is another name for palm oil. In principle, palm oil is vegan because it does not contain any animal products or involve the abuse of animals. However, some vegans choose to avoid palm oil because it’s difficult to produce sustainably and often involves deforestation which destroys animals’ habitats
  • Vegetable fats (shea) – This is another name for shea butter, which is a fat extracted from the nut of the African shea tree. It is completely vegan
  • Emulsifiers (soya lecithin) – Soy lecithin is extracted from soybeans and is completely vegan

Is Cadbury chocolate palm oil sustainable?

Some of the palm oil in Cadbury chocolate is produced sustainably, but not all of it. This could be a reason why some concerned vegans may choose to boycott Cadbury.

Cadbury is owned by Mondelez International, which states that “from Q1 2021, we expect 80 percent of our palm oil to meet enhanced traceability and forest-monitored expectations”. [Source]

You can see how Mondelez International compares with other companies with the WWF Palm Oil Buyers Scorecard.

Is Bournville dairy-free?

Cadbury Bournville chocolate can never be guaranteed to be 100% dairy-free because it is made on the same production line as milk chocolate. Therefore, Bournville is not suitable for those with severe milk allergies.

vegan Bournville chocolate

The vegan spectrum

Veganism is not always black and white. What’s acceptable to one vegan may be unacceptable to another. And that’s fine. We are all free to make our own decisions about what to put in our own bodies, and that doesn’t make anyone any less of a vegan.

With Bournville chocolate, the two grey areas are:

  • The use of palm oil
  • Sharing a production line with non-vegan products

If you know where you stand on these issues, then you can decide whether you are happy to consume Bournville chocolate or not.

If you need some more information, take a look at these resources

Can vegans eat Cadbury chocolate?

Cadbury Dairy Milk chocolate is quite obviously not vegan, you can tell that just by its name.

It’s been reported that Mondelez, the owner of Cadbury, has been working on developing vegan milk chocolate since 2017. However, they have struggled to match the taste without using animal products, so there isn’t yet a vegan version of Dairy Milk.

However, vegans can eat some Cadbury chocolate, as Cadbury’s Bournville is vegan. This dark chocolate comes in a variety of vegan-friendly flavours, including orange, rum and raisin and even in the shape of buttons.

Is Bournville cocoa powder vegan?

Cadbury Bournville cocoa powder is vegan. The ingredients are cocoa powder and sodium carbonate, which are vegan. However, it is produced on a production line with products that contain milk, so those with a milk allergy who require strictly dairy-free cocoa powder may wish to avoid it.

The preparation instructions to make hot chocolate with Bournville cocoa powder suggest adding semi-skimmed milk. Vegans can easily substitute this for any plant-based milk to make a vegan chocolate drink.

Buy Bournville cocoa powder

Cadbury Highlights Bournville

Do not confuse Bournville Cocoa with Cadbury Highlights Bournville as the latter is not vegan. The Highlights hot chocolate powder contains milk, whereas Bournville Cocoa does not.

With Bournville Cocoa, you’re required to add your own milk, and that can be any kind of milk, whether dairy or plant-based. However, with Highlights, you’re only required to add water because the dairy milk is already included in the powder.

This is similar to Bird’s custard powder and Bird’s instant custard powder. The first requires you to add milk (of any kind), the second already contains milk and requires you to add only water.

Is Bournville orange vegan?

Bournville orange is similar to classic Bournville chocolate in that it is generally vegan, but be sure to check the label. The chocolate contains palm oil, which some vegans may wish to avoid due to issues with deforestation during production. Bournville orange is made in the same factory as Cadbury milk chocolate, so there’s the potential for cross-contamination.

Buy Bournville orange

Is Bournville Old Jamaica vegan?

Cadbury Bournville Old Jamaica Rum & Raisin dark chocolate is generally vegan, but you’ll want to check the label for milk. Some vegans may wish to avoid it because it contains palm oil.

Buy Bournville Old Jamaica

Are Bournville buttons vegan?

Bournville giant buttons are no longer suitable for vegans. In July 2021, the recipe was changed and Bournville Buttons now contain milk, making them not vegan-friendly.

This disappointing recipe change was reported on the @vegan_food_uk Instagram page. The feedback from social media is that vegans and those following a dairy-free diet are very upset by Cadbury’s decision to add skimmed milk powder into this once-vegan treat.

Are Bournville Easter eggs vegan?

Just like Bournville chocolate, Bournville Easter eggs are generally vegan-friendly, but you’ll want to look out for milk in the ingredients to be sure. Vegans should be aware that the chocolate recipe contains palm oil and that the Easter eggs are produced in the same factory as other Cadbury products, so there could be a risk of cross-contamination with cows milk.

Buy Bournville Easter eggs

Are Bournville cookies vegan?

Unlike Cadbury Bournville chocolate, Bournville cookies are not vegan. They contain whey powder, which is made from milk, as well as whole egg powder.

If you’re desperate to get your fix of Bournville cookies, take a look at this recipe which you can make with Bournville dark chocolate and Bournville cocoa powder.

Are Cadbury’s Bournville fingers vegan?

Cadbury Bournville fingers are accidentally vegan. There are no animal-derived ingredients in the biscuit or the chocolate coating. Like other Bournville products, they are made alongside milk chocolate so may not be suitable for allergy sufferers due to the risk of cross-contamination.

Buy Bournville fingers

Was Bournville chocolate vegan in the past?

Cadbury has changed the Bournville recipe several times. Before April 2019, Bournville dark chocolate was always made using milk. Because the recipe has changed so often, you should always check that the ingredients don’t include milk.


The ingredients of Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate have changed several times and so the only way to know for sure whether a particular bar is vegan-friendly or not is to check the ingredients, looking out for milk.

if you’re a strict vegan who’s concerned about potential cross-contamination or the use of unsustainable palm oil, then you’ll probably wish to avoid this chocolate.

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