Is Bournville Vegan?

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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, particularly since the recipe change in July 2021 (more on that later in the article).

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 chocolate is generally suitable for vegans. It contains a minimum of 36% cocoa solids as well as sugar, cocoa butter and vegetable fats, but no milk or other animal-derived ingredients. However, some types of Bournville, such as Bournville Buttons, do contain cows’ milk.

Cadbury chocolate does contain palm oil which some vegans choose to avoid due to its links with deforestation. Also, Bournville is produced on the same production line as products that contain milk, so it is not suitable for people with severe milk allergies.

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

Cadbury Bournville ingredients:

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

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?

Whilst there is no milk in the ingredients of Cadbury Bournville chocolate, it cannot 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 with some caveats. The chocolate contains palm oil, which some vegans may wish to avoid due to issues with deforestation during production. Also, 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. However, some vegans may wish to avoid it because it contains palm oil. Also, it’s made on the same production line as milk chocolate, so it may contain traces of milk and may not be suitable for those with a milk allergy.

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. However, 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

Has Bournville chocolate always been vegan?

Cadbury changed the Bournville recipe in April 2019. Before this date, Bournville dark chocolate was made using milk. If you have any old bars hanging around, you might want to check that the ingredients don’t include milk.


Cadbury’s Bournville chocolate doesn’t have any animal-derived ingredients and is approved by Peta. Many vegans would consider this to be okay to eat. However, if you’re a strict vegan who’s concerned about potential cross-contamination or the use of unsustainable palm oil, then you may wish to avoid this chocolate.

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