Honey is a product of bees. From a commercial standpoint, bees are abused and mistreated for profit. Vegans typically avoid animal products, such as eggs, dairy, and meat and fish. People who follow vegan diets consume only plant-based foods and even boycott the use of any animal product, such as leather, wool, silk, and others.
Honey is an insect product but because its procurement involves harming the bees, most vegans avoid it. Most vegans consider honey as a nonvegan, but some vegans continue consuming it.
Veganism is a popular lifestyle where many believe going vegan is ethical (against animal cruelty), healthy, and good for the environment.
Why is honey not vegan?
Honey is a thick, sweet, golden syrup that is often used to sweeten food, medicines, and beverages. Technically, honey is a by-product of plant nectar. Bees collect plant nectar, process it in their digestive system, and spit it out as honey. This honey is stored in their hives to be used as food during winters.
How honey is collected
- Bees continuously collect nectar and produce honey.
- People invade the beehives and collect honey and wax from beehives.
- The procedures used for the collection are harmful to the bees; many bees die during the process and sometimes, the hive itself is destroyed completely.
- This is considered animal cruelty by many vegans, thus they avoid consuming honey.
Not all honeybees are raised for commercial honey production. Bees play a vital role in the pollination and cultivation of crops and fruits. Crop cultivation suffers when bees are absent, thus many farmers maintain honeybees near their fields to boost crop productivity. Collecting honey and bee wax from honeycombs is an added benefit of keeping the bees.
What is beekeeping?
Beekeeping is the practice of keeping a colony of bees on wooden frames. Bees produce wax to form hexagonal shapes on the wooden frames to store honey. Collectors remove the frames regularly to scrape away the wax and honey and replace the empty frames.
Collectors use smoke to soothe the bees throughout this process. This procedure is considered immoral, and most vegans oppose considering honey to be vegan. Some believe that the population of honeybees is declining due to these commercial beekeeping practices. However, a small poll, revealed that 20 percent of vegans have no trouble consuming honey.
Many beekeepers adopt barbaric tactics to meet production targets, such as chopping off the queen bee's wings so she cannot leave the colony and killing drones (fertile male bees) to harvest sperm to inseminate the queen.
Royal jelly, which is identical to gelatin, is extracted from the glands of queen honeybees. It is used in cosmetics, so to extract large-scale royal jelly, numerous queen bees are treated brutally.
Why do some vegans choose to consume honey?
Some individuals feel that eating honey is compatible with vegan principles because of the inseparable link between bees and numerous plant-based meals. This group of vegans believes that refraining from honey for animal rights concerns means that vegans should avoid various products, such as almonds and avocados, which would not exist commercially without the efforts of bees.
This includes considering various creatures harmed by agricultural operations.
- Countless tiny animals are killed during plowing the soil before cultivation and harvesting.
- Pesticide-treated crops kill insects, and many small animals are killed during the transportation of produce.
It is difficult to determine what creatures may have died to obtain plant-based food. This is a sufficient justification for some vegans who incorporate honey into their diets.
Concern about honey, however, makes veganism appear to be an unattainable ideal to maintain, turning off those who may otherwise be interested in the lifestyle. Some even contend that the honey discussion diverts attention away from the more serious animal welfare issues at hand.
What does vegan honey mean?
Though technically not vegan, locally made wild honey from a beekeeper is a humane option for many plant-based eaters who object to bee commercialization. Ethical beekeepers harvest honey only in the spring after the bees have consumed everything they require over the winter.
The small-scale honey industry gives natural immunity to bees by leaving the honey intact. It promotes diversification among wild bees and aids in the restoration of bee populations.
7 vegan alternatives for honey
Various plant-based sweeteners are available in the market to incorporate in vegan delicacies instead honey.
- Agave nectar: Agave nectar or syrup is a plant-based sweetener with a taste similar to honey. It is one of the vegan alternatives to sugar because it may be used in the same way. Agave is sweeter than honey, making it a better choice for those with a sweet tooth. If you want to eat honey but are vegan, agave nectar is the perfect substitute.
- Maple syrup: Maple syrup is not produced by bees but by the xylem sap of the sugar, red, or black maple trees. Honey has more vitamins B3, B5, B6, and C, but maple syrup contains more vitamins B1 and B2. It has higher levels of calcium, magnesium, potassium, and zinc. The vegan society highly recommends this as a honey substitute.
- Brown rice syrup: Brown rice syrup is a vegan, liquid, gluten-free, and plant-based alternative to honey. It is produced from brown rice. Brown rice syrup is made by exposing cooked rice to enzymes, which causes starches to break down and transform into sugar.
- Date syrup: Organic dates are used to make date syrup, a plant-based sweetener. It is high in minerals, vitamins, antioxidants, and amino acids. When compared to honey or maple syrup, a tablespoon of this sweetener contains more than double the potassium, calcium, and magnesium.
- Coconut sugar or coconut nectar: Coconut nectar is the sap gathered from the bloom of a coconut palm tree. It is used to make nutritious plant-based sweeteners. Coconut sugar made from sap has a high concentration of amino acids, vitamin B, inositol, vitamin C, and potassium.
- Commercial corn syrup: Honey can be replaced with industrially processed corn syrup, as a sweetener. Corn syrup is made from corn starch. This syrup improves the taste of dishes and beverages.
- Bee-free honee: Bee-free honee is produced with natural flavorings, such as apple and lemon juice and molasses. Some vegan honey products contain prebiotics, which improves intestinal health.
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Health Solutions From Our Sponsors
Barwick EM. Is Honey Vegan? Healthy? Humane? Bite Size Vegan. https://bitesizevegan.org/ethics/is-honey-vegan-healthy-humane/
Tijam GR. Is Honey Vegan and Can I Eat It? Inquirer.net. https://usa.inquirer.net/99872/is-honey-vegan