What’s the Buzz about Honey?

Recently, I have gotten a lot of questions about my decision to not eat honey as a vegan. I found it a bit difficult to explain, as the cruelty in the honey industry is not as obvious as in the meat, dairy, and egg industries, so I decided to articulate my thoughts here.

Reasons why Honey is not Vegan:

1. It is a form of animal exploitation. Bees work hard to make their honey. When humans take it from them, bottle it, and sell it, they are making a profit off the bees’ natural body functions, just like the dairy and egg industries do. Bees are not our personal honey making machines. They exist for their own independent purposes. No animals should be exploited as a food source, including bees.

2. Bees need to keep their honey. Bees work hard to make their honey. A single worker bee may visit up to 10,000 flowers in one day, only to produce one teaspoon of honey in her lifetime. In addition, honey provides vital nutrients to the bees, especially during the wintertime. We have no right to take it from them just because we like how it tastes. The bees need and deserve their honey more than we do.

3. Taking honey from bees is stealing. We cannot ask for bees permission to use their honey. However, it is not difficult to deduce that bees do not want humans to take it from them. Why would they prefer to live in a box with a large human intermittently disrupting their hive to steal their hard-earned honey? We must respect that honey is the bees’ property, not ours.

4. Bee farming is often industrialized. Just like other forms of factory farming, industrialized bee farming forces bees into cramped and unnatural environments. With the large amount of honey made available cheaply, the bees inevitably suffer. They are often subjected to genetic manipulations and stressful transportation when their “hive,” reduced to a cabinet, is moved from place to place. Additionally, bees are frequently injured or killed in the honey-harvesting process.

When raised for honey, bees are forced to live here:

When they should be living here:

5. It is unnecessary for humans to take bees’ honey. There are plenty of plant-based sweeteners we can use in our food, such as maple syrup, agave, and a cool product called “Bee Free Honee,” which is made from apples. (Check it out here) With so many delicious alternatives, we may as well let the bees keep their honey. Forcing bees to make sweetener for us is simply unnecessary nowadays.

So this is why I choose to leave honey out of my diet. Honey can be a gray area for many vegans, as bees are not animals (they are insects). However, I extend my circle of compassion to include bees and give them the same respect and freedom as I give to other animals.

More Information about Honey:

http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-food/animals-used-food-factsheets/honey-factory-farmed-bees/

Honey Alternatives:

http://www.onegreenplanet.org/natural-health/best-alternatives-to-honey/

Best,

Leila

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7 thoughts on “What’s the Buzz about Honey?

    • I am glad you enjoyed this post! Most people overlook the cruelty in the honey industry, since bees are insects and are therefore more difficult to empathize with. It is good to hear that you enjoy plant-based honey alternatives! I have not yet tried Agave or flower based honey, but both sound delicious!

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  1. There’s so many different types of vegans now, I mean first it was for the animal cruelty for most people, then it was a trend, now a lot of people go “plant-based” for their health. I’m a vegan for the nutrition! I don’t do oreo’s just because they’re vegan because they aren’t good for your body. I stick to plant-based whole foods. I don’t need a vegan butter substitute because I don’t need butter. Sure the diary farms are a horrendous business, but cows protein isn’t good for our bodies anyway! I’m all about health and nutrition and feeding your body the right combination of colorful veggies, nuts, and seeds so my body will always be at its prime.

    **Agave is not a healthy sweetner substitute by the way. Honey isn’t that nutritous either, but it has so many medicinal properties that people have been using it for, for years. So I won’t give it up, but I do choose who I buy form, since I know my farmers. Just like people do when it come to chicken eggs, beef, veggies, etc.

    Here’s a few links to give you some more info on the “health” part of honey and all sweeteners for that matter.

    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/a-harmless-artificial-sweetener/
    http://nutritionfacts.org/video/the-healthiest-sweetener/

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    • One’s perspective on certain gray areas of veganism definitely depends on what “type” of vegan they are. Honey, leather, wool, and products tested on animals may be incorporated into the lifestyle of someone who is vegan for health reasons as opposed to ethical. I am vegan for solely ethical reasons, so even if animal products were the healthiest foods in the world, I still would not eat them. I don’t think my personal health benefits can justify the suffering animals go through to get these products onto our shelves. In the same way, I don’t think the health benefits of honey justify exploiting bees for their honey, especially since we don’t need honey for survival. But honey is obtained far less cruelly than other animal products, so if you are otherwise vegan and seek out ethically sourced honey, I do not see a huge problem with eating it. Thank you for sharing your opinion on this! πŸ™‚

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      • Well, my reasoning behind being vegan is not only ethical, but it’s also because I don’t need butter, meat, cows protein, cheese, etc. But I always don’t believe in consuming artificial products, because they’re just as bad as meat, nutrition wise. Just wanted to clear up that I was speaking about a more broader subject, not me specifically. But when you weight the reasons why (ethically) someone shouldn’t consume beef, milk, cheese, chicken, etc. Then you weigh the reasons you stated concerning bees. It doesn’t measure up. But, like you said, we all have our opinions, and that’s why I love blogs and reading about different perspectives!! Someone’s gotta defend those insects lol. I give my bee’s water for pollinating my vegetable/grains garden.

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      • I try my best to avoid speciesism, which is the belief that some animals’ lives matter more than others because they belong to a different species. So for that reason, I give the same compassion to a bee’s pain and suffering as I would give to a cow, pig, chicken, or human’s. But I know that way of thinking is very unnatural and “extreme” to some people. It is true that the cruelty in the honey industry is lesser than in the dairy, meat, and egg industries, but I don’t think that’s reason to ignore it. Fortunately, locally sourced honey can be quite close to cruelty free.
        It’s great that you leave out water for bees. I never thought of doing that! They are remarkable insects, and so important, too! The majority of the food in our supermarkets would not be available had they not pollinated the plants they originated from. Remove bees, and the entire ecosystem crumbles. They are tiny, but they are so powerful! πŸ™‚

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