When it comes to veganism, one of the more common questions is “do vegans eat honey?” And, once again, the answer may not be completely black and white. It could fall in a bit of a grey area, depending on who you ask. Some vegans will say its okay to eat honey while others don’t agree. We’ll get to our answer in a bit, but let’s a take a look at some of the key points that are raised when it comes to whether or not honey is vegan.
How is Honey Made?
The first key to answering the do vegans eat honey question is understanding how honey is made. Honey is the result of honeybees performing their process of natural pollination. During this process, bees suck the nectar from the flowers. They then take nectar back to their hives and process it into honey. During this process, the nectar is thickened. Then the bees store it for future use. Beekeepers essentially harvest the additional honey that bees produce. They collect it, store it and package it to be sold to consumers.
Why People Think Honey Isn’t Vegan
One of the primary reasons that people become vegan is to reduce animal cruelty. Vegans don’t eat animals or animal products, as animals are typically harmed during the manufacturing process. However, the grey area exists with honey because it’s a natural process that bees would still carryout on their own whether or not humans consumed honey. However, honey is typically mass-produced which requires keeping bees in captivity on bee farms. So, bees that are raised only for the purpose of making honey don’t live the same life as free bees would.
With that said, there are four main reasons why vegans might answer NO to that do vegans eat honey question.
1. Beekeeping Isn’t Structured
Professional beekeepers have to make enough honey throughout the entire year to fulfill demand and maximize revenue. Many beekeepers hire local farmers to take beehives on a for-hire basis in order to produce larger amounts of honey. Doing so introduces bees to different climates and conditions. Changes in the bee’s conditions can lead to inadequate food consumption, illness and death. Since the primary reason that most people go vegan is to protect animals, most vegans don’t eat honey due to the belief that bee farming causes unnecessary harm to bees.
2. Clipping the Queen Bee’s Wings
While it’s impossible to know the exact affect of bee farming, there is one thing that’s certain. The queen bee will almost always suffer from animal cruelty. To maximize profits, bee farmers clip the wings of the queen bee in order to keep her in her hive and prevent her from moving to a new hive. By all accounts, this equates to animal abuse.
3. Burning Beehives
When bees are diagnosed with a serious and contagious disease known as American Foul Brood, the beekeepers burn down the hives these bees are in to prevent the outbreak. This is another instance of animal cruelty against bees that is due solely to the farming of bees.
4. Replacing honey with sugar or sugar substitute
As the bees keep producing the thickened nectar called honey, farmers start replacing the honey with a sugar substitute – mostly high fructose corn syrup. Bees not only produce honey but also thrive on the honey they produce to survive. As the farmers remove the honey in order to sell it, they replace it with sugar. This results in a lack of proper nutrition for the bees. This unnecessary action is undoubtedly harmful to the bees.
As you can see, if you’re against animal cruelty, then you probably would answer the question “do vegans eat honey” with a no.
Six Healthy Vegan Alternatives for Honey
If you’re a honey-lover that is considering giving up honey for the good of the bees, then you’re going to need a solid substitute. But don’t worry! If you elect not to eat honey, there are plenty of other vegan-friendly substitutes out there.
1. Maple Syrup
Made from red maple, black maple or sugar maple tree’s xylem sap, the maple syrup is a tasty vegan alternative to honey. The maple trees store excess starch in their trunks and roots to be used during the winter. This is then converted to sugar and comes to the sap during the spring season, for you to use it.
2. Brown Rice Syrup
Cooked rice is introduced to enzymes that transform the starch in the rice into small sugar particles. This way, the dirt and impurities from the rice are filtered out completely and what remains is a dark-coloured syrup, which you can use instead of honey in your dishes. The caramel flavour of this syrup is its added highlight.
3. Coconut Nectar
You may be surprised to know that the coconut nectar doesn’t contain any coconut flavour in it. Even if you’re allergic to coconuts or don’t like the taste of it, you may actually enjoy this nectar. It is made from the reduced sap of coconut palms and is loaded with nutrients like amino acids, vitamins, and minerals.
Blackstrap molasses, made from refined sugarcane or by transforming sugar beets into sugar, is an excellent vegan alternative to honey and is rich in iron, calcium and other nutrients. Adding this to bread creates an amazing flavor that will make you forget about honey.
5. Agave Nectar
This is one of the most common vegan alternatives to honey. It is made from the agave plant and comes in different consistencies and colors. If you love caramel flavours, you may opt for dark-coloured agave nectar. If you prefer something that tastes exactly like honey, you may opt for light-colored agave nectar. It is thinner than honey, so you might need a larger quantity of agave nectar than you would with honey.
6. Barley Malt Syrup
This is one of the healthiest vegan honey alternatives that you can find. Roasted sprouted beans are cooked well until it reaches a syrupy consistency. This syrup tastes like malt, so you may want to start with a slight quantity and work your way up.
So, Do Vegans Eat Honey?
The truth is that some vegans eat honey. However, I would guess that the vast majority of vegans do not since the vast majority of vegans are concerned with animal cruelty. There’s simply no denying that bees suffer undue stress and harm while making honey for commercial purposes.