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November is World Vegan Month, and there is good news for those that have taken the plunge….you can still eat chocolate thanks to Local Food Britain member The Raw Chocolate Company, as a recent article in Sussex lifestyle magazine Etc explains...

You would have to be living in a bubble not to notice that vegan foods are fast becoming mainstream. Turn every corner in the supermarket aisle or farm shop in Sussex and you will find a dairy free, meat free alternative.

According to a survey carried out on behalf of The Vegan Society, there are now three and a half times as many vegans as there were in 2006, making it the fastest growing lifestyle movement, and the majority of them are young 15 to 30-somethings. And while ethics and a concern for the environment are still key drivers for turning vegan, many people are now embracing this lifestyle for health reasons.

Linus Gorpe adopted a fully vegan diet 11 years ago, but there was one thing he craved – chocolate. So, from his kitchen overlooking Brighton marina he set about creating a diary-free alternative, whizzing up ingredients in his blender and testing creations on his friends. He took his first products to Infinity Foods in Brighton’s North Laines….and so The Raw Chocolate Company was born.

His original product, Vanoffee (a white `chocolate’ made from cacao butter, coconut blossom sugar and lucuma, a Peruvian fruit) is still his best seller, but there are now around 30 products in the range from bars to raw chocolate coated berries. The latest additions include chocolate coated stem ginger and almonds. Distribution has expanded from its Sussex base to nationwide, with the chocolate now available in independent retailers, health food shops, including Holland & Barrett, as well as online. All the products carry the signature logo of a seagull, a permanent reminder of the brand’s humble beginnings on the Sussex coast. 

“The first five years were really hard to communicate the message about raw food and dairy-free chocolate, but the market has really grown in the last three to four years, and not just in the UK – I learnt recently my chocolate bars are sold in Safeway in Saudi Arabia,” said Linus. “The feedback I receive from vegans is they are delighted they can finally have a chocolate bar in their diet that tastes good.”

To keep up with growing demand, Linus and his expanded eight-strong team, moved into a purpose-built chocolate factory in Small Dole three years ago where, in true Willy Wonka style, albeit a vegan one, he continues to experiment with raw cacao.

“I’d really love to create truffles and we are currently working on chocolate covered seeds,” he says. “And my team really love peanut butter so this could become a new addition.” 

Tags: raw chocolate vegan dairy-free fairtrade

Have a go at making your own chocolate

If you can’t wait for Linus to produce truffles for you, then try making your own.  The Raw Chocolate Company has a delicious range of `make your own’ ingredients, and a tempting truffle recipe online. Click here for more information.