The cacao industry has always struggled with human rights concerns related to the farming and  harvesting of cacao. As a solution to this issue, the Harkin-Engel Protocol was created to encourage eight of the largest chocolate conglomerates to better the industry as a whole.

This blogpost is the last in a series of three blog posts highlighting the story of the Harkin-Engel Protocol.

Find Part 1 here, and Part 2, here.

If the unethical status of the cacao industry makes you feel worried about the chocolate you are purchasing, you’re not alone. 

Many consumers are opting to buy their chocolate from companies who are transparent about their cacao sources, and who make the conscious decision to only support fair wage cacao farms. Alongside this shift, many consumers are also interested in learning more about the cacao industry, which is slowly bringing awareness to the dark side of cacao production.

Education is crucial to our mission as a bean to bar chocolate company, and we believe that shining a light on the truth about the dark side of the cacao industry is just as important as making the chocolate itself. As more people become educated and aware of the issues with slave labour in cacao production, many have felt the push to purchase their treats from chocolate companies who source their cacao ethically. And as a company who sources their beans ethically, we’ve noticed a huge increase in consumers asking us about our cacao (which is great!).

Cacao flower inside

So, you’re interested in getting involved and learning more. What can you do?

First, an easy way to learn about cacao and chocolate is to do some research. When purchasing chocolate, ask. Where does the chocolate come from? How is it sourced? This is the very start. Just this question alone will spread awareness to other consumers and the chocolatier or chocolate maker themselves. 

A great example is our Living Lotus Blog (hint, hint), but there are also lots of other great sources of education that highlight the cacao industry. Many small chocolate companies (like us) also post frequently on their social media accounts with information and links to other learning sources, so following your favourite ethical chocolate company accounts is an easy low-barrier way to see more and learn more.

How can you make more ethical choices when shopping for chocolate?

The next step is choosing your chocolate wisely. Seek out and purchase from chocolate companies that make the intentional choice not to support harmful industry practices and slave labour. By supporting those who care about the ethical treatment of chocolate farmers and who advocate for better industry practices as a whole, we can show that cruelty-free chocolate matters.

While shopping, ask your favourite chocolate makers where their beans come from. Most chocolate makers who are proud of their ethical choices will be excited to share – and we all should be wary of those who aren’t willing to be transparent.

Also, ask questions to learn about chocolate! Learn about the different fair trade labels and certifications on commercial bars, what they mean, and how the organizations behind these labels are funded. Pay attention to the things that chocolate conglomerates do to hide their unethical practices.

The Harkin-Engel Protocol is just one of many real examples of mega chocolate conglomerates ignoring human rights issues in this industry. At the moment, many of the most well known chocolate companies have operated on the same profit-driven model for decades, which has allowed unimaginable human suffering to go on all in the name of an extra buck. 

Our Living Lotus chocolate bars aren’t at the same $3 price point as a bar from Walmart, not because we’re greedier than those companies, but actually quite the opposite. We have carefully priced our products to accommodate for the added cost of sourcing our ingredients from ethical, cruelty-free, and fairly-paid sources. Simply put, commercial chocolate companies refuse to move to ethical sourcing it because it costs more, and that would eat into their profit margins.

Now, in saying this you might be asking yourself – how does Living Lotus source our cacao?

We choose to source our cacao ethically, despite the cost, because being cruelty-free is a main pillar in our ethos as a company, and we wouldn’t have it any other way. We take pride in being a cruelty-free company, and we love that our cacao is sourced from farmers who are paid a fair wage. Learn about the community that produces our newest cacao variety, a Peruvian bean from the Awajún tribe, in our blog post here.

We also only use ethical ingredients in our products. All decadent goodies from Living Lotus are made without animal products, and are 100% vegan, gluten-free, and refined sugar-free. We hope you can feel good about buying from a company that believes in spreading delight with every bite you take, without causing or supporting harm in the process.

Thank you for joining us on this journey through the history of the Harkin-Engel Protocol. If you have any questions about our blog series or want to learn more, follow us on instagram @livinglotuschocolate or email us at

Shop our Ethically Sourced Bean to Bar Chocolate:

Living Lotus- Audrey

Audrey is the founder of Living Lotus Food & Nutrition Inc. a plant-based dessert and food education company in Vancouver, BC. Trained as a certified Whole Food Educator and Raw Food Chef, she is passionate about Making Health Sweet and empowering people to make better food choices. She enjoys playing in the kitchen, yoga, sewing & riding her bike in the sun.

Shopping Cart