When it comes to wanting to add a little bit of (healthy) sweetness to our life, we often leap towards the jar of honey sitting there on our kitchen shelves.
Now we, as consumers, might have different preferences and different questions in our mind pertaining to its use, such as, “Should I add it to my tea?” or “Is it okay to have honey with a fruit?” Or -wait for it-“should I even eat it?”
The first two questions are completely a matter of personal preference but the third concern questions the ethics of sourcing honey and directly asks “how is it made?”. Why is it important? Well, the sourcing and manufacturing method of food is a decisive criterion for consumption for our friendly neighbourhood vegans.
It is, thanks to them, that the world has become conscious of its food-sourcing and manufacturing practices and now incorporates vegan-friendly ingredients and processes in its products.
Coming back to the topic of honey, vegans have also made us curious as to whether or not honey is vegan. Most vegans do not consider honey vegan but we might have some good news for you, keep reading to find out what!
Veganism: What is it?
Veganism is the practice of abstaining from the use of products originating from animals, i.e dairy products, meat, eggs etc. There are different reasons as to why one might want to follow veganism (as it certainly has its advantages!)
Some reasons you might consider are:
- Healthy Lifestyle
- Ethical Reasons
- Trying something new
Whatever your reason might be, kudos to you! Following veganism is not an easy task and that’s why different types of vegans have different boundaries. Some vegans are very strict and have completely turned over their lifestyle to ensure not a single trace of animal-sourced products remain in their lives while others may not follow it to the extreme.
Thus they set for themselves, parameters or some “exceptions” for themselves that they believe are unavoidable or are not directly related to animal cruelty. Now whether these exceptions are acceptable to you or not is completely a matter of personal choice and one’s moral values.
Reverting back to the topic of honey, let’s understand where honey lies in the vegan diet spectrum.
Honey: How’s it made?
Although honey is a sweet and silky delight for many, the making process might not be as sweet and smooth for our vegan fellows’ liking.
As we all know, honey bees are responsible for the production of natural honey. They travel to suck nectar from flowers and return to their hives once their honey pouch is full. Other bees in the hive then “chew” on the collected nectar to transform into a thick liquid. The liquid or syrup is then stored in honeycombs, which are fanned by the bees’ wings to dry them. When almost all water has been evaporated, bees seal the honeycomb with a liquid excreted from their abdomen (which, after it dries and hardens, is referred to as beeswax).
Sealed away using beeswax, honey is the only food source for the bees during the cold, hard winter months.
Veganism and Honey: What’s the catch?
Now, what we just discussed is the natural process but how do we get it for our consumption? Well, there are several ways. Some beekeepers do not take all the honey and leave some for the bees because they’ve worked hard for it and it just sounds morally right. While some other beekeepers take all the honey and replace it with another sweet substance of their own such as sucrose which is harmful to bees and is a cause of their reduction as a species. This is done so that the bees don’t starve and the production of honey does not face any hindrance. PETA has also taken a stance against this as an “immoral and unethical action”.
The vegans also have the same stance and describe it as “exploitation” of the bees. According to the vegan society, bees work for a major part of the year to supply themselves with enough honey for their survival while we take it as our own and exchange it with something that is harmful to the bees and this goes against the principles of Veganism.
So Do Vegans eat Honey?
No, if you’re looking for a straight-up answer then vegans do not eat honey, solely because of the exploitation that they describe as immoral which goes against their principles of veganism. Now you might be asking yourselves “Well I’ve certainly seen vegans eat honey before. So are they not vegans?”. No need to panic as we’ve got you covered on this one! The vegans that also eat honey are known as “Beegans”. A rather unusual name right? Well according to Beegans, they’re following the vegan lifestyle while having no restrictions to the sweet delight.
So Can Vegans eat Honey?
Now, this is a tricky sweet question, isn’t it? And the answer is that it all depends upon you and what your perspective is on the situation. So you definitely can eat honey as a vegan but should you? That’s for you to decide. Many beekeepers only take a small amount of honey from the beehives and leave the rest for the bees so that’s not entirely bad right? So from this perspective, you as a vegan can eat honey. In the end, if you want to be extra cautious, you can check whether your honey source is facing any exploitation or harm.
What’re my options?
- Maple syrup:
- Date paste/Date syrup:
- Bee Free Honee
- Coconut nectar
- Barley malt syrup
- Blackstrap molasses
The final verdict is that no, honey isn’t vegan. In the end, it all comes down to how you want to approach your health. Some may say honey isn’t vegan while some vegans may consume honey and call themselves Beegans, which is totally fine!
The vegan society is abstaining from honey and is now implementing other alternatives to ensure that they’re committed to the Vegan lifestyle. The whole purpose of veganism is exclusion from exploitation and any sort of harm that may be inflicted upon animals for food or any other product and at the end of the day, it is your choice whether you want to go vegan or not.