Are you vegan if you eat honey?

29.02.2020. 08:31

Are you vegan if you eat honey is a very interesting question that if you think about it can be confusing, so let us break it down, and to start who is a vegan, or what is veganism? The latter can be described as the act of completely abstaining from using animal products. But remember you can avoid eating animal products but you are using them in other things like clothes or cosmetics. 

Bees are both animals and insects, it is, therefore, safe to say that honey is an animal product, and when we go back to veganism we are informed that it seeks to minimize or rather avoid the exploitation and cruelty directed towards animals.  So if you harvest honey while being cruel to the animal then you are not a vegan, however, this largely differs from person to person. 

According to the vegan society, honey is not vegan, and if you eat honey you are not vegan because the health of the bees is put in danger anytime that you harvest honey. Besides bees make honey for themselves, so we can safely say that by forcefully taking away honey from the bees you are exploiting the poor little animal.

Categories of vegans

This then brings us to the categories of vegans, and first on our list are the whole food vegans, who will eat nothing but a diet rich in whole foods such as nuts, legumes, vegetables, and fruits. We also have the raw food vegans, who eat raw foods or those that have been prepared in a temperature below 118 degrees Fahrenheit. 

Junk food vegans will feed on processed vegan foods like frozen dinner, vegan meats, and non-dairy ice cream. We also have the low fat or raw food vegans, this type will not consume high-fat foods such as nuts, coconuts, and avocadoes, they might feed on other plants but in very small portions thus rely on fruits. Lastly, we have the dietary vegans who will not eat animal products in their diet but use them in other things. 

Honey alternatives for vegans

Since we have already established that you are not vegan if you eat honey, and that honey is not vegan what other options do vegans have? Vegans do have many alternatives in the form of syrup and this are made from reducing naturally sweet juices such as sorghum juice, cane juice or maple sap; you can also make the syrup by dissolving sugar in water. 

One commonly used syrup is the maple syrup, which is made from the sap of the xylem of sugar maple or the varied species of the maple trees. Its constitution comprises of glucose and sugar that are realized from the invert sugar produced during the boiling process, the syrup also consists of water and sucrose which are its primary ingredients. 

Below are some of the plant-based syrup

Barley malt syrup - is not far from blackstrap molasses in terms of flavor, Barley malt syrup features a golden color just like honey and is mostly adopted in households as a sweetener, the syrup is thus derived from sprouted barley. 

Date syrup - is the liquid portion of cooked dates, and is prepared by boiling chopped dates, when strained the date syrup tends to be very thin but will definitely excite your taste buds. 

Blackstrap molasses - is derived from sugarcane refining, the process is pretty simple and involves the mashing of sugarcane to create juice, it is later boiled and the first boiling creates the cane syrup, while the second boiling produces molasses. Blackstrap will benefit your body with calcium necessary for strong and healthy bones and iron will help enhance blood levels. 

Brown rice syrup - like its name is derived from brown rice, which is fermented to break down the starches with enzymes and then reduce the substance until it creates a syrup-like consistency. The other name for brown rice syrup is rice malt or rice syrup. 

Bee free honey - mimics honey in its composition, as it is made from fresh lemon juice, apples, and sugar. Bee free honey resembles honey and even looks and feels like honey.

Why honey farming is harmful to bees

Bees make honey for themselves which they use during the winter months when honey production goes down, by feeding on honey the bees are able to stay healthy, as it gives them the energy to get through the cold weather season. And that is why we have the options discussed above, by utilizing any of them it goes to prove your love and support for the bees. 

Remember that bees are very important in the ecosystem, as pollinators they support the growth of flowers, trees and other edible plants that provide human beings with food. Therefore, if bees are in danger then the human population is also in danger. Farmers who keep bees are fond of replacing honey with sugar which doesn’t add any value to the health of the bees. 

Honey on the other hand fuels the bee's body, their young ones are also fed on the same. By ingesting honey bees benefit from antioxidants, natural antibiotics, amino acids, and carbohydrates. 

Vegans are against any form of exploitation towards animals and by denying bees their source of livelihood people goes against the vegan principle of exploiting animals for financial gains. Besides, it is a form of cruelty because during the winter months the bees will have to find alternative means of survival or perish.

The exploitation of the bees

The extent to which beekeepers go to keep the honey bees is rather disturbing and that is why you see most vegans abstaining from honey products and disputing the so-called vegan honey. Did you know that there are beekeepers who clip the wings of the queen bees so that they will not wander away from the hives. The above is especially unethical because it is aimed at making profits. 

The bees are now kept as slaves and at times when they develop diseases, instead of giving them medicine given their contribution to the ecosystem, they are killed and their colonies destroyed to keep the disease under control.

What is the main reason behind honey-making?

The large amounts of honey that is collected from the bees hive is actually the bee's food stock for the entire colony. And the reason why they store large amounts of honey is because, during the cooler winter periods, bees are barely able to forage, besides the number of accessible flowers also greatly reduces thus the bees are unable to gather food. 

But with their stock of honey, they are able to keep their energy going up until the winter period passes. What’s more, is that even as they stay in their colonies during the winter periods they are always working and with the high concentration of sugar in the honey their energy levels are kept up? Besides they also need energy to flap their wings to keep their bodies cool.

Ways of protecting and saving honey bees

Bees do make quite a lot of honey and even though they plan to stock it up as food, they can barely consume it all. But that is no reason for the non-vegans to collect the honey, remember that when taking the bees food stock you are stealing from it, even if you retain enough that can suffice its colony during the rainy days. 

Some people are however very cruel and will collect all the honey even with the winter period around the corner thus leaving the bee with little time to collect enough honey for the colony. So given their importance in the ecosystem, you can also give back to the bees as they are key to the survival of human beings and animals.

Set up a water hole

Animals just like human beings need water for survival, but we all know the hardships that they have to go through before they can find a good source of clean water. Bees in particular work extra hard and they do get thirsty and will definitely get dehydrated if water is not in the vicinity. 

Therefore, to save the little animals from dying out of dehydration we could take it upon ourselves to create a small water spot in our gardens for the bees, birds and other flying insects and animals to hydrate.

Plant their favorite flowers in your garden and farm

Bees are hard working we don’t deny that but how about we make their lives a little easier by reducing the distance that they travel to look for food. You could, therefore, do some research on the flowers that bees love, and plant them in your garden. Some of the flowers are the common yarrow, the blue giant hyssop, and the purple coneflower.

Minimize the use of insecticides

You can minimize the use of insecticides either directly or indirectly. Directly is by planting organic thus no use of harmful insecticides and indirectly by buying organic planted foods that refrain from using harmful chemicals and in the long run encourages other farmers to go organic. Important to note is that Insecticides are one of the primary causes of the death of the honey bees.