Is any Hershey’s chocolate vegan?

Quick Answer

No, currently none of Hershey’s chocolate products are vegan. Hershey’s chocolate contains milk, which comes from cows. Cow’s milk is not vegan, so any Hershey’s products containing milk ingredients are not vegan either. Some specific ingredients to look out for are milk chocolate, milk fat, whey, and lactose. Hershey’s products that contain these ingredients are not vegan.

Ingredients That Make Hershey’s Chocolate Non-Vegan

Hershey’s chocolate contains several ingredients that make it incompatible with a vegan diet:

Milk Chocolate

Most Hershey’s chocolate bars, like Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars, contain milk chocolate. Milk chocolate has milk or milk ingredients mixed into it, most often milk powder, milk fat, or condensed milk. Since milk comes from cows, milk chocolate is never vegan.

Milk Fat

Products like Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars contain milk fat. Milk fat is the fatty portion of milk. It gives milk chocolate its creamy texture. Milk fat, like other milk ingredients, disqualifies Hershey’s chocolate from being vegan.


Whey is a protein found in milk. It is a by-product of cheesemaking. Whey powder is sometimes added to chocolate to augment its protein content. It is an animal product and non-vegan.


Lactose is the sugar found in milk. It is added to some Hershey’s chocolate products as a sweetener. Lactose, being an animal product, precludes Hershey’s chocolate containing it from being vegan friendly.

Hershey’s Products Containing Milk Ingredients

Here is a table of some popular Hershey’s chocolate products that contain non-vegan milk-derived ingredients:

Hershey’s Product Milk Ingredients
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Bars Sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR
Hershey’s Special Dark Bars Sugar, chocolate liqueur, cocoa butter, chocolate, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, PGPR
Hershey’s Cookies ‘N’ Creme Bars Sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, milk fat, lactose, whey, soy lecithin, PGPR
Hershey’s Milk Chocolate Drops Sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin
Hershey’s Syrup Corn syrup, high fructose corn syrup, water, cocoa, milk fat, lactose, soy lecithin, potassium sorbate, salt, artificial vanilla flavor
Hershey’s Pot of Gold Premium Solid Milk Chocolates Sugar, cocoa butter, chocolate, milk fat, soy lecithin, PGPR (emulsifier), vanillin (artificial flavor)

As seen in the table, all of these popular Hershey’s products contain milk-derived ingredients like milk fat, milk chocolate, lactose, or whey. This confirms that these Hershey’s chocolates are not vegan.

Why Hershey’s Chocolate Isn’t Vegan

Hershey’s chocolate products contain milk for the following reasons:

Texture and Meltability

The milk fat in milk chocolate gives it a smooth, creamy texture and causes it to melt pleasantly in the mouth. Manufacturers like Hershey’s use generous amounts of milk products to achieve an appealing texture.


Milk chocolate has a sweeter, creamier taste than darker chocolates. The lactose and milk fat provide a caramel or butterscotch-like flavor. Consumers expect and enjoy this classic milk chocolate taste.


Using milk chocolate ingredients allows Hershey’s to produce chocolate at a lower cost than purer dark chocolates. Pure dark chocolate requires more expensive cocoa butter. Milk chocolate dilutes the cost with cheaper milk powders and fats.


Milk provides protein and calcium, making milk chocolate slightly more nutritious than dark. This is part of milk chocolate’s kid-friendly appeal.


Hershey’s has manufactured milk chocolate since 1900. Generations of consumers recognize and prefer the distinctive taste of American milk chocolate. Hershey’s wants to maintain this familiar flavor profile.

Vegan Status of Other Hershey’s Products

Besides chocolate, Hershey’s produces many other candy products. Here is a quick rundown of some other popular Hershey offerings and their vegan status:

Hershey’s Kisses

Not vegan – Contain milk chocolate

Hershey’s Nuggets

Not vegan – Contain milk chocolate

Hershey’s Milk Duds

Not vegan – Contain milk chocolate

Hershey’s Whoppers

Not vegan – Contain milk fat

Hershey’s Almond Joy

Not vegan – Contain milk chocolate

Hershey’s Mounds

Vegan – No milk ingredients

Hershey’s Syrup

Not vegan – Contains milk fat and lactose

Hershey’s Candies

Varies – Some vegan flavors exist

As shown, most Hershey’s products contain milk-derived ingredients like milk chocolate or milk fat. Only a handful of products, like Mounds bars and some Hershey’s Candies flavors, are vegan.

Are Any Limited Edition or International Hershey’s Products Vegan?

Hershey’s has produced some limited edition and international chocolate products that happened to be vegan:

– Hershey’s Special Dark Mildly Sweet Chocolate – Released for a limited time in 2019 for the brand’s 125th anniversary

– Hershey’s Dark Chocolate – Sold in China due to popular demand for dark chocolate

– Hershey’s Dark Chocolate Mini Bars – Briefly released in the US in 2016

However, these products were vegan by coincidence, not design. Hershey’s hasn’t intentionally created a vegan chocolate bar. Limited edition products quickly disappear. So no vegan Hershey’s chocolate products are readily available.

Why Vegan Chocolate Is Difficult for Major Chocolate Brands

Switching to vegan chocolate would be challenging for a mass-market chocolate company like Hershey’s for several reasons:

Developing New Recipes

Removing milk ingredients significantly alters taste, texture, and manufacturing. Extensive R&D would be needed to reformulate recipes.

Sourcing Ingredients

Securing enough vegan ingredients like soy or rice milk could be difficult and drive up costs.

New Equipment and Processes

New methods would have to be devised to make chocolate without milk. Major capital investment could be required.

Winning Consumer Acceptance

Mainstream buyers expect a classic milk chocolate taste. Major marketing efforts would be necessary to generate interest in different tasting vegan chocolate.

Cannibalizing Existing Sales

A vegan product could simply cannibalize sales from current milk chocolate offerings, without growing Hershey’s market share.

Given these hurdles, Hershey’s and other giant confectioners are unlikely to develop vegan chocolate bars anytime soon. Smaller niche brands have more flexibility meeting the needs of the vegan market.

Hershey’s Response to Vegan Demand

Hershey’s is aware of growing demand for vegan chocolate. Here are some ways they have responded:

Targeted Vegan Offerings

As mentioned earlier, Hershey’s has introduced a handful of vegan chocolate products. But these have been limited promotional items meant to generate buzz, not satisfy vegans.

Highlighting Vegan Ingredients

Although not totally vegan, Hershey’s now spotlights when products contain vegan ingredients like almond milk or rice syrup. This transparency helps vegans identify their best options.

Acquiring Vegan Brands

In 2019, Hershey’s purchased Krave, a vegan jerky brand. However, they have not yet acquired a vegan chocolate company.

Monitoring Market Trends

At annual shareholder meetings, Hershey’s gets asked if they plan to release vegan chocolate. So the company is paying attention, even if not acting aggressively yet.

While responsive to the growing plant-based market, Hershey’s remains cautious about altering its milk chocolate products that make up 80% of sales.

Best Vegan Chocolate Brands

While Hershey’s has yet to embrace vegan chocolate, many other excellent vegan chocolate brands exist. Here are some top options for those seeking dairy-free, plant-based chocolate:

Brand Details
Alter Eco Bean-to-bar chocolate company offering many vegan dark chocolate bars
Endangered Species Ethical brand offering vegan dark chocolate with added ingredients like fruit and nuts
Equal Exchange Worker-owned cooperative making organic and fair trade vegan chocolate
Hu Kitchen All vegan brand with milk chocolate alternatives made from cashews
Lulu’s All vegan, organic, and gluten free chocolate in unique flavors like Himalayan Pink Salt
Pascha Peanut-free, soy-free, gluten-free vegan chocolate sweetened with maple syrup
Taza Chocolate Stone ground organic chocolate with unique bold flavors

Ranging from boutique to mainstream brands, these companies offer high quality vegan chocolate in dark, milk, and white chocolate varieties. They prove that innovative chocolate can be completely plant-based and appeal to diverse preferences.

Outlook for Vegan Hershey’s Chocolate

Increasing Pressure

Concern for animals, sustainability, and health will drive more consumers and companies towards veganism. As animal-free diets become mainstream, pressure on major food corporations like Hershey’s to provide vegan options will grow.

Gradual Shifts

Large companies change slowly and incrementally. Hershey’s is likely to test limited edition vegan products before committing to a full vegan line. A niche vegan range could precede going 100% plant-based.

New Leadership

A future CEO at Hershey’s could have personal interest in plant-based diets and champion vegan chocolate development. But under current management, dramatic changes seem unlikely.

Navigating Competition

If smaller vegan chocolate brands gain market share rapidly, Hershey’s may accelerate vegan product launches to remain competitive. But the company will balance defending current products with entering an uncertain new niche.

Within a Decade?

Given current trends, Hershey’s developing vegan chocolate within the next 5-10 years seems plausible. But a specific timeline depends on consumer preferences evolving and how innovation unfolds across the chocolate industry.


For now, vegans wishing to enjoy milk chocolate’s taste and texture without animal products can choose from an increasing number of startups crafting innovative plant-based versions. But Hershey’s commitment to their classic milk chocolate formulas remains steadfast. While no Hershey’s products are vegan at present, pressure for more inclusive and sustainable sourcing may prompt gradual shifts toward vegan ingredients. Monitoring consumer attitudes and competitor actions will inform if and when America’s leading chocolate brand decides to embrace the animal-free evolution happening in the chocolate world.

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