Is Honey Vegan? Vegans Who Eat Honey
I’ve just recently stumbled upon this video of Vegan bros where they claim that ‘Honey IS vegan’.
And something deep inside my agreeable self, got triggered.
The vegan bros argue that claiming that honey is NOT vegan can deter omnis from going vegan. I actually never met a person who was on the fence of going vegan and had honey as their deciding factor to stay a meat eater.
But.. I understand that to some people the topic of honey can be ridiculous. I mean bees weren’t featured in the movie earthlings because frankly, few people give a f*ck about insects.
Most people, including me, kill mosquitoes and ants more often than we probably would like to admit.
Yet should we eat honey? Might honey TRULY be vegan?
To understand if we should eat honey, we need to know where honey comes from. Honey comes from bees. Awesome revelation I know.
Bees itself are fascinating beings and their social structure is vastly different than humans.
A beehive consists of a queen, female worker bees and male drones. All those 3 different type of bees have a nervous system and are capable of feeling some sort of sensation of pain and pleasure.
To some degree, the entire beehive can be considered as one organism or as one family. All of these 3 types of bees have quite similar to identical genomes.
Now in commercial beekeeping companies – this might be different in local beekeepers – the bee queen, the only organism that is capable of reproducing in the entire beehive, gets artificially inseminated and its wings cut off. Which sounds cruel, but makes sense economically.
I mean as a beekeeping company you don’t want to risk that the queen suddenly gets an epiphany or a mid-life crisis, and chooses a way different place far away from where you as a producer can profit from it.
Some beekeepers might argue that they provide good conditions and the worker bees come back because they like it there. That’s not true. The bees come back for the queen.
Same as in factory farming pigs or chicken, what counts in beekeeping is money. Costs are getting kept down and productivity needs to be increased. Why do we think the treatment is any better when it comes to bees?
The treatment is worse, as bees are insects, and again, nobody really cares about insects. I mean frankly, I don’t care that much about insects.
But this doesn’t mean that supporting immoral behavior is good.
Most beehives get killed off before winter, as it is cheaper to create a new hive at the next year, than paying for the upkeep of one over the cold months. Most farmers also replace the honey the bees make with sugar substitutes, which has been shown to be detrimental for the bees well-being.
1. The bee industry is profit driven.
Now have the bees evolved to create honey because of a symbiotic relationship with humans? No, they didn’t.
Worker bees suck out the nectar in flowers and blossoms, store it in their storage unit, aka the stomach, and transport it back to the beehive.
Once the bees arrive at the beehive they pass on the nectar, which they get out of their stomach again, to the bees that chew it, until it turns into honey. It takes about the entire existence of 8 worker bees to create a teaspoon of honey.
Honey is what bees use to feed their colony and they store it for the winter times. Because of the, let’s just call it internal processing of the nectar, honey can also be called bee vomit.
Because that vomit or honey is high in glucose and fructose, we humans have evolved to enjoy the taste of it.
I mean a tablespoon of honey has a higher caloric density than a tablespoon of pure sugar. But as we’ve learned from eating donuts, is that just because something tastes good, doesn’t mean that it’s good for our organism.
Contrary to popular belief, honey has actually few antioxidants comparable to brown sugar and maple syrup. Much healthier sweeteners turns out to be molasses or date sugar.
Honey also contains only 0.2 grams of fiber per 100 grams, which is essentially non-existent. Also honey contains very little amount of minerals and vitamins, so it can not really make a difference.
A healthline article claims that honey contains quote on quote ‘some nutrients’ and that quote on quote ‘honey is less bad than sugar’.
This is the wrong reasoning when it comes to improve our food choices in my opinion, just because a nutrient is less bad than another doesn’t make it good.
2. Honey is not (really) healthy
So if we go by the definition of the vegan society, which defines veganism as: “a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
Conclusion – Is Honey Vegan? Vegans Who Eat Honey
We have to come to the conclusion that honey, although being tasty, is not vegan. The production is cruel to sentient beings.
But.. but.. I can understand the ‘Vegan Bros’ points, that we should probably not shove this issue into people’s faces. See, I’m killing mosquitoes on a regular basis down here in Indonesia. Those suckers are not getting my precious blood.
Also some deaths of animals will be inevitable when it comes to plant-based foods production. What matters for us vegans though, is that we choose the alternative that reduces the net amount of suffering.
Things might be different from a local beekeeper, but honestly if honey has been proven to be non-essential to our well-being and non-ethical in most cases, I see no reason in consuming that product at all.