I remember going into Holland and Barrett last year and noticing a vegan advent calendar, but also noticing that within days, it was gone. At the time I was not vegan so it didn’t hugely impact my life, apart from when I was searching desperately for one as a present for my vegan friend. Sadly, I was informed they had sold out. SOLD OUT?! I was shocked. Surely once they sold, they could make more, right? Or not. Demand was high, so you had to snap that advent up quickly.
This year when it hit the shelve in early October, of course I had to pick one up straight away. How could I live without an advent? I am a big child, and a big vegan child at that.
The advent calendar filled with dairy-alternative treats was left at the house wherein my mother and sister reside, and I hadn’t had a chance to move it to my own place before, so last night, it was dropped off to me (big up, mother. Big up).
Not only did she bring me my own, but she also bought me a second one!!! This one was by a second brand called ‘Chocologic’
Chocologic specialise in ‘free from’ chocolate, though it is not always vegan: They have milk chocolate free from SUGAR (obviously not vegan), and gluten free options, but the one I went for was, of course, the free from dairy one (indeed, it was also gluten and wheat free!!!).
Us vegans don’t quite have the same choice as milk-drinking folk do when it comes to chocolate and sweets, so the vegan advent calendar market certainly is a tiny proportion of the many in the market.
Holland and Barrett (£3.99)
As this was my first port of call and the first I bought, I thought I’d review this one first.
To try and get a good balance I decided to wait for two days and try it first one day and second the other, in case my opinion was swayed by e.g. a chocolate overload.
I have to be honest, I was kind of disappointed with this advent calender.
It wasn’t very sweet, which I actually think is a great thing as in my experience, vegan chocolate can be waaaaay too sugary sometimes, so I was pretty satisfied.
It was also a lot creamier than most vegan chocolates- again, this is good because vegan chocolate can frequently taste like cheap goods, so this creamier chocolate is a good change.
In my opinion however, this combination worked against it; it was too far the other way. They tried so hard for a milk chocolate style that it ended up being too sickly. It quite honestly tasted too much of soya, and I find soya totally sickening (I know, am I even vegan?!*)
This heavy and overly creamy soya taste was not particularly pleasant, especially when accompanied by a bitter sort of cocoa (due to she lack of sweetness) so I honestly did not particularly enjoy eating this advent.
The texture was also a little too creamy for me with regards to chocolate, and instead of being thin the block was too thick for such a strong confection.
*Contrary to popular belief, soya is not a vegan staple due to the environmental aspects. Soya is not a friend of the green warrior, so many vegans live soya-free lives. Personally, I refrain my soya consumption as much as I can partially for this reason (though, I have not been able to cut it out totally yet fro the sheer amount of food and drinks it is in), and it genuinely makes me feel unwell.
As I said above, I did trial this as both my first and second chocolate, and this was because on Day 1 it was my second chocolate. I was, therefor, unsure if it was eerily the fact that I had already eaten enough chocolate from the morning.
Result: I felt the same even when I ate it first.
I do not totally slate Holland and Barrett; all of their other stuff is staple to my life and they at least tried to make this calendar unlike many other companies, but it was not my favourite. In all fairness, I do believe my bias against soya probably impacted this review however.
This calendar was a total surprise for me, and after hearing the last review you know I was probably glad to receive it.
This one was picked up from Tesco for just £2.50, just over half of what the H&B one cost.
This is the one I’m writing about second, and last, not only because I got it afterwards (and didn’t actually know it existed unti then), but because I wanted to end it on a high note.
This truly exceeded my expectations; I didn’t really know what to expect from either, of course, but this ended on the total other end of the spectrum for me. It was a perfect balance.
The chocolate was sweet but not too overwhelmingly sugary. You could taste that it maybe had a little more sweetness than dairy based chocolate, however, it was not overpoweringly sugary like many other vegan chocolates I’ve tried. This meant it really didn’t taste like ‘cheap’ chocolate. I found it truly was just right!
It also wasn’t too creamy. I know you’re thinking it must need a somewhat luscious creamy taste to taste like a chocolate treat but it really doesn’t need to. It was the right amount of milk-alternative, and subsequently had me craving more chocologic in my life.
The pieces were also a lot thinner than the Holland and Barrett one. Again, you must be thinking ‘but I want more chocolate!’, but trust me, for an advent, I found the Holland and Barrett chunks too thick. The chocologic one was thin enough to not sicken you, but thick enough to suffice. They’re also shaped in little festive molds!
As you can probably tell, I rate chocologic’s calender as number one, and Holland and Barrett does fall behind quite a bit. That doesn’t mean I don’t rate them as a company, I just didn’t get along too well with their product this time.
I am, following this experience, dying to get my hands on more of chocologic’s vegan goodies and cannot rate the company more.