As you may have noticed, milk is falling out of fashion...but what about our beloved milk chocolate? While dark chocolate is most of the time dairy-free and safe for vegans, many would still like their milk chocolate and eat it too. Don’t fret.

Say hello to oat milk chocolate just now starting to grace the shelves of supermarkets and convenience stores. Chocolate made with an oat-milk base promises perhaps the closest thing to the real milk chocolate taste yet.

One of the first companies to produce an oat milk chocolate is Endangered Species Chocolate (ESC). The fair-trade chocolate brand is known for its ethically and sustainably sourced ingredients and incredible tasting (and mission-driven) chocolate. They wanted to produce a bar that was vegan and exacted the milk chocolate flavor while adhering to their quality standards. ESC recently debuted its line of oat milk chocolate—we tried all three of their flavors; they’re delicious and sure to please milk chocolate aficionados—at Whole Foods, with more retailers carrying later this year.

"Through our research, we found that consumers are seeking dairy-alternative chocolate products, but they don't want to compromise taste in the process. When we saw oat milk products popping up everywhere — from ice cream to coffee creamer — we wanted to see what it could do for the chocolate bar,” says Whitney Bembenick, Endangered Species Chocolate’s director of innovation. “What we found was oat milk doesn't have the nutty flavor that almond or coconut milk brings. Instead, it gives the smooth and sweet taste that most milk chocolate lovers prefer.”

Oat Is the New Dairy

Many swear that oat milk is the best replacement for real milk with its rich and creamy texture. It’s these properties that justify a winning performance in a dairy-free milk chocolate as Bebbenick notes. For these reasons, oat milk is also a favorite in coffee surging on the popularity scale as the creamer of choice and the fastest-growing milk used in coffee (according to a study by the Specialty Coffee Association).
Another reason oat milk is an attractive product is its low resource intensity. “Producing a glass of dairy milk every day for a year requires [7,000 sq ft] of land, the equivalent of two tennis courts and more than 10 times as much as the same amount of oat milk,” reports the BBC News citing a study assessing the environmental impact of milk and milk alternative production.

“Almond milk requires more water to produce than soy or oat milk. A single glass requires 74 litres (130 pints of water) - more than a typical shower. Rice milk is also comparatively thirsty, requiring 54 litres of water per glass.” Ethical-forward companies are increasingly turning to crops and food products that use less water to grow, and have a lesser carbon footprint.

There’s no shortage of companies launching their own versions of vegan milk chocolate bars. Trader Joe’s just announced it’s going to soon be launching its own milk chocolate bar with an almond milk base. The popular U.K.-based Cadbury reported that it's been working on a dairy-free, plant-based version of a chocolate bar for about two years; they have yet to reveal its ingredients and plant-milk base.

While it remains to be seen how some of these milk chocolate replicas stack up against oat milk chocolate, one thing remains true: oat milk chocolate is pretty damn good.

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