There is an increasing awareness of the negative impact that conventional chocolate production has on the environment, on workers’ rights, and on animal welfare. Organic, vegan chocolate is miles ahead of conventional dairy-based, but by how much and how do we improve it even further?
IT MATTERS – THE VGAN FOOTPRINT AND SUSTAINABILITY STUDY
Through the VGAN Footprint and Sustainability Study, VGAN aims to improve transparency, sustainability, and traceability from soil to shelves. We will identify key indicators, assess our current operations, analyze our findings, and implement a robust improvement plan. Through this, we will develop a best-practice model that we can transfer to our other production sites in the world, and establish a culture of knowledge sharing with our partners.
Our goal is to spearhead a more sustainable way of making chocolate, without compromising on our superior taste, exceptional quality, or mainstream availability. We want to nudge the world toward products with a significantly better global footprint.
To achieve this, we know that we need to continuously improve and innovate, while also effectively communicating our efforts and successes to our customers. That’s why we are working hard to develop transparent and credible methods of sharing information about our various sustainability projects.
Through these efforts, we intend to educate consumers about the impact of their purchasing decisions and inspire others to join us in our mission to create a more sustainable future. We believe that by combining great taste with responsible and transparent production methods, we can make a real difference in the world.
SUPPORT AND PARTNERS
The project is supported by the Norway Grants 2014-2021, in the frame of the Business Development, Innovation and SMEs Programme.
Additional partners in the project are:
The Big Idea Lab AS (The Big Picture) provides advisory services within sustainable business management and communications. Corporate Good provides advice and guides companies on social responsibility and sustainability.
WHERE ARE WE TODAY, WHERE ARE WE HEADING, AND HOW?
Our claim is that choosing vegan and organic chocolate ensures that you support a more sustainable and ethical production process and enjoy a healthier product for yourself and the planet. Can we back up that claim?
One of the main advantages of vegan and organic chocolate is that its production has a significantly lower environmental impact compared to traditional chocolate. Conventional chocolate production is a leading cause of deforestation and habitat loss, which contributes to climate change.
Additionally, dairy products require large amounts of land, water, and energy to produce. In contrast, vegan and organic chocolate companies use sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients, such as fair-trade cocoa and organic sugar, reducing the environmental impact of chocolate production.
Organic chocolate is made using natural and sustainable farming practices, which helps preserve soil health, biodiversity, and ecosystems.
The UN identifies plant-based diets “as a major opportunity for mitigating and adapting to climate change,” and it recommends that governments around the world adopt policies to reduce meat consumption.
EFFORTS – MAKE A DIFFERENCE, NOT JUST A DIFFERENT WRAPPING
Actions speak louder than words, and that’s why we are committed to making a tangible difference through the VGAN Footprint and Sustainability project. Our goal is to assess every aspect of our chocolate production, from the soil where the ingredients are grown to the shelf where the final product is sold.
By identifying areas where we are already doing well and pinpointing areas where we can improve, we can make meaningful changes that have a positive impact on the environment.
At VGAN we know that agriculture is the largest contributor to our chocolate’s carbon footprint, followed by processing and transportation. However, more detailed data is necessary for us to implement the most effective improvements. Our focus is on identifying changes that will have the greatest impact.
Changing our packaging might look good to the consumers, but does it really make a chocolate bar significantly more sustainable?
We want our efforts to actually make a difference, not just be a different wrapping.
Unfortunately, mass-market chocolate production often relies on child labor and forced labor, perpetuating poverty and exploitation, making it difficult for consumers to navigate and figure out which bar has a positive or negative journey from soil to shelf.
An important advantage of organic production is its commitment to fair and ethical working conditions for all farmers and workers involved in the supply chain.
EFFORTS – PAY A FAIR PRICE, AND LEAD BY EXAMPLE
At VGAN, we strongly believe in the value of fair pay for workers and farmers. We are dedicated to spearheading a movement that goes beyond mere compliance and strives for greater equity in the food industry.
Through close collaboration with our ingredient suppliers, we are committed to increasing the compensation for every ingredient we use in our products. While this effort will have a particularly significant impact on our cocoa farmers, we recognize that every contribution matters. Our increase in payment for ginger won´t make a big difference in the lives of ginger farmers but will set an example and hopefully encourage positive change across the industry.
Our social responsibility goal is not only to make a difference in our own production but also to lead by example. Together conscious companies can create a fairer and more equitable food system for all.
Furthermore, vegan and organic chocolate production upholds animal welfare standards. Traditional chocolate production involves the use of milk, which requires cows to be continually impregnated and separated from their calves. This practice is inhumane and cruel.
Vegan and organic chocolate does not rely on animal products, ensuring that no animals are harmed or exploited in the production process.
EFFORTS – CONTRIBUTE, AND ENCOURAGE ALTERNATIVES
By choosing plant-based milk over dairy, we are actively taking steps to avoid contributing to the unethical treatment of animals in factory farming. However, at VGAN we recognize that more needs to be done. In the US, we partner with the organization Mercy For Animals and donate a portion of every chocolate sale to support their important work. We also collaborate with AURORA to donate funds to the Norwegian Animal Protection Organization.
But we don’t stop there. In addition to these donations, we work closely with these organizations to raise awareness about animal welfare and promote the development of sustainable plant-based alternatives. By collaborating with experts in the field, we hope to encourage more people to adopt a plant-based diet and support a more ethical food system.
At VGAN, we believe that every small step counts towards a better future. By making conscious choices about what we eat and supporting organizations that share our values, we can all work together to create a more sustainable and compassionate world.
We are careful about promoting the health benefits of chocolate, and think you should indulge in a moderate amount of your favorite flavors in combination with an active lifestyle.
However, vegan chocolate is free of animal products and therefore free of cholesterol and saturated fat. Organic chocolate is produced without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides, or fertilizers, which can harm the environment and pollute water sources.
EFFORTS – MODERATE INDULGEMENT AND AN ACTIVE LIFESTYLE
At VGAN, we believe that maintaining a healthy lifestyle doesn’t have to mean giving up the things you love. This is why we recommend enjoying chocolate in moderation, and by choosing high-quality, plant-based chocolate, you can satisfy your cravings without compromising your health goals.
In addition to promoting moderate indulgence, we believe in the importance of activity. That’s why we are committed to supporting a variety of activities, events, and ambassadors who promote a balanced and active lifestyle. One important partner is snowboarder Jamie Anderson, and The Jamie Anderson Foundation who´s mission is to offer young athletes access and financial assistance to participate in winter sports, pursue their dreams and connect with the environment.