Honey is a smooth and sweet addition to everything from baked goods to sauces and tea. But if you’re living a vegan lifestyle, does that mean you have to give up honey?
The Short Answer:
No, vegans cannot have honey.
The Long Answer:
Unfortunately, Winnie the Pooh can never become a vegan bear. That’s because honey, his favorite food, is an animal byproduct and thus cannot be eaten under the vegan lifestyle.
There’s a lot of misinformation circulating out there as it pertains to honey and vegans. A lot of people (probably wishfully) claim that honey is perfectly acceptable for vegans to eat. They’re 100% wrong.
Just because honey doesn’t come out of an animal doesn’t mean that it isn’t an animal byproduct. Honey is created by bees for bees. When humans harvest honey from a beehive, the health, and safety of the bees who produced it can be sacrificed in the process.
Vegans consider honey harvesting by humans to be exploitation of animals, which is right up there along with cruelty.
A bee’s source of energy is honey. They would starve and die out without it. That’s why they make so much. Honey provides nourishment and nutrients in the winter months and that’s why the bees’ entire existence revolves around the creation of honey.
And they work hard for the honey. (So hard for it honey. Sorry, I had to.)
The average honey bee will gather nectar from upwards of 1,500 flowers, which they store in a second stomach. Once there, their natural enzymes break the nectar down into honey. Upon returning to the hive, the bees barf the honey back up (ew) where it is then chewed up by other bees to create the honey that we know. The hive works as a collective unit to accomplish this, and each bee provides 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey throughout the course of its entire life.
The hive runs on honey and taking it from them creates problematic issues.
There are a number of unethical practices that honey farmers employ when harvesting. For starters, they replace the honey they take with a sugar substitute, which is problematic in the digestive system of a bee.
Bee breeding also causes issues, as kept bees are more prone to certain diseases. Those diseases spread throughout the hives and large-scale bee death occurs as a result. Farmers have also been known to cripple the wings of queen bees, keeping them trapped within the hives.
So, while honey might be delicious, those following a vegan lifestyle may not have it due to severe ethical concerns. If you love honey but are switching to vegan, try maple syrup or molasses instead.