April 16, 2015
Can Honey Be Considered a “Vegan” Food?
Veganism is when and individual does not consume or use any animal products or by-products. Individuals who choose veganism, either for ethical or dietary reasons, will not eat products such as eggs, milk ,or butter, nor will they use products that are produced by animals or contain their by-products. While this may seem like a restrictive lifestyle, there are a number of reasons why an individual chooses veganism. But, can honey be considered a “vegan” product based on these standards?
Honey and Veganism
The main premise of veganism is choosing a lifestyle that does not harm animals and does not support industries that do. While some individuals choose this lifestyle for dietary or health reasons, the majority of vegans believe that humans can live and survive without harming or interrupting animals’ lives. It is obvious why vegans would not eat meat, but animal by-products can often be a more confusing thought process to follow. One animal by-product that needs some additional consideration is honey.
Honey, as many of us know, is naturally produced by bees and used by the insects in a number of different ways. Bees collect nectar from flowers which are rich in sucrose, ingest it, and then regurgitate over and over again until it has been partially digested. They then allow the regurgitated honey to cool and harden by fanning it with their wings. It is then transported back to the hive and stored in honey combs to be used as a food source during the season when they cannot collect food regularly.
Collecting nectar and producing honey is not something that bees do for the sole benefit of humans – producing honey is something they do to benefit themselves and ensure their survival. While this would be acceptable for the vegan lifestyle, it is important to take into consideration how that honey makes it from the bees’ hive to our dinner table. The process of humans harvesting honey is often a point of contention among many in the vegan community as to why honey should not be considered acceptable.
When beekeepers are ready to collect honey, it is necessary for them to remove a number of bees from the hive. While this may not seem harmful, it is important to remember how small bees are in comparison to humans – it is impossible to completely prevent any injuries or death of the bees during this process, even for the most careful, meticulous beekeeper. It is this disruptive and dangerous process that, for many people who embrace veganism, makes honey not an option in their lifestyle.