Should Vegans Eat Honey? – Vegan Life Issue 3

When you tell somebody you’re vegan and they ask you what it entails the honey aspect is usually what tips them over edge to thinking you’re ridiculous. “What harm can a bit of honey do? The bee’s give it to us for free!” is one of the most common arguments I hear. It’s not just between vegans and meat eaters either, I’ve seen many vegans arguing about honey online. So what’s the real answer?

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Vegan Life Magazine have tried to tackle the controversial argument in their January/February issue by comparing the for and against arguments. As usual they have left it up to their readers to decide what to believe but I don’t think this is a difficult decision at all.

The yes camp use the argument that not eating honey is what gives vegans such a bad name. People think we’re pedantic and over the top. Why do we care about bees? It can’t have escaped your attention that bees are in dramatic decline all over the world. Colony collapse disorder is causing hives to literally become empty shells overnight and scientists are baffled as to why. It is thought that it could be pesticides which are killing off our bees or possibly the changes to their natural environment. What is certain is that the extinction of bees would be extremely dangerous to human kind with many of our foods disappearing with them as they are not being pollinated.

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Honey is a natural food and can be harvested without harming the bees but unfortunately that usually isn’t the case. Bee’s create honey so that they have food to eat over the winter when pollen is hard to come by. If we take that honey we have to then feed them with an artificial alternative so that they can still feed. This is usually made with processed sugar, a very unnatural alternative. Honey is extremely nutritious which is one of the reasons we take it, can you imagine what happens to the bees that are fed this ridiculous alternative?

To keep up with the demand for honey beekeepers often add new layers to the hives so that the bees carry on reproducing and therefore produce more honey from their offspring. This is not natural and causes increased stress and often death. A bee would rather work itself to death than let it’s offspring die and yet the honey isn’t going anywhere near the young but being taken for humans to enjoy instead.

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The vegan lifestyle is about caring for animals and not taking advantage of them for our own benefit. While people may argue that keeping bees is stopping them from becoming extinct, nothing could be further from the truth. Keeping these vulnerable insects in hives and stealing the food they would give to their children is not what I call care. Someone who exploits bees by eating their honey cannot call themselves a vegan.

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7 thoughts on “Should Vegans Eat Honey? – Vegan Life Issue 3

  1. I totally agree with what you said. As a Vegan I would never eat honey. I tend to equate it with drinking cow’s milk; but I also know that people generally don’t “get” it, so if I’m asked if I want honey in my tea, I just say no. 🙂

  2. I will disagree with you, but not because of your points of argument. What I am disagreeing with is your statement that a person cannot call themselves a vegan if they eat honey. I believe that depends on why they are a vegan and how totally strict you want to be about it. You are, apparently, quite strict. Fine for you. I don’t condemn you at all for your views. Simply don’t try to push them on me. I am diabetic and the vegan regimen is pushing my blood sugar down, my cholesterol down, my blood pressure down, and my weight is slowly declining. I have done the research and this was my own choice, my best choice. However, except for the high sugar in honey, I see no problem with having a bit here and there. Yes, I worry about the bees declining. Yes, I understand what could happen if they go extinct. But to state outright that this one arguable thing should keep me from calling myself (or anyone else) vegan is giving vent to that very argument that vegans are so pushy that they are simply extremist. Simply allow people to be themselves. I will continue to refer to myself as a vegan who does not lose his head over something like this. Feel free to believe whatever you choose. I will, too.

    • I am sorry, I did not mean to offend anyone with my statement. I often get annoyed when I find out that people call themselves vegetarian and yet they eat fish. It blurs the lines for non vegetarians and makes it harder for everyone else to explain their dietary choices. For me a vegan that eats honey reminds me of this. However if you need to eat honey for your health then obviously this is the best choice for you and I can not condemn you or anyone else for that. I would likely choose the same if I was in your situation and couldn’t find a vegan way to resolve it. I feel though that people who do not have health concerns to contend with should not be choosing to eat honey just because they like it. If I decided to be vegan but to every so often have a milky bar then I would not be a vegan.

  3. Scientists are baffled, why are the bees dying off? Bee farms take the honey from the hives and replace with sugar – not what the bees need to eat to stay healthy.

    Great video on the honey issue – honey isn’t vegan. I know something about the honey industry from personal experience. There is very little respect for the lives of the bees.

  4. Very interesting thoughts on this. Honey is something I’ve struggled with since going vegan 5 years ago. I initially went vegan purely for health reasons and honey is a healthful food… but recently it is hard to ignore the date piling up against the use of honeys and the treatment of bees :/ Thank you for sharing this!

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