Why Isn’t Honey Vegan? The Savoury Truth

The question ‘Why isn’t honey vegan?’ is one of the more confusing, long standing questions surrounding veganism.

To many people it isn’t clear why it would be a problem to eat honey when the bee isn’t killed in the process of making the honey.

Why isn't honey vegan? A bee flying toward a sunflower

Do All Vegans Avoid Honey?

Honey is one of the more ‘argued’ about topics. (Along with the question of whether a vegan would eat a free range egg from happy hens.)

The concept of being vegan is to try not to support any industry which commercialises animals for a product.

So, strictly speaking anybody who identifies as being vegan, won’t eat honey.

But becoming vegan is a journey, and we don’t change from being omnivores to vegans overnight.

Given how many products are involved in the whole ‘changeover’, it’s quite a learning curve just to try to identify, let alone get-rid-of, all the non-vegan things from your life.

Understandably then, honey may not be the most obvious thing to a newer vegan and they may well still be eating it without even realising that it isn’t actually bee-friendly.

Similar Questions (and Reactions) to Why Isn’t Honey Vegan?

  • What’s wrong with us sharing the honey (with the bees)?
  • Why isn’t honey vegan as bees are unintelligent insects with no feelings, a bit like a fly?
Honey bee on a yellow flower
Honey bee collecting nectar
  • Vegans must be overreacting, pretending that bees are mistreated, when in fact they’re just doing their thing making honey. And we just partake in the result.
  • Why isn’t honey vegan as the product demand protects the species, and we need to populate the world with more bees, don’t we?
  • I buy honey to support the bee population!
  • Rolling eyes up in head – they’re only bees for goodness sake!

My Opinion on Honey

I don’t eat honey.

But I never have eaten honey (I mean, I’ve tried it and I’ve eaten honey & mustard salad dressing in the past, but I’ve never bought honey or regularly eaten it).

Basically I don’t like honey.

Because of this, when I first became vegan, I didn’t have to ask myself the question ‘Is honey vegan?’ because I didn’t eat it anyway.

But the question was still there in the back of my mind and sometimes people would ask me my opinion.

Back in the early days, I wasn’t sure.

So I decided to find out.

Some of My (Ex) Thoughts De-Bunked on Why Isn’t Honey Vegan?

  • I actually believed, like many people, that maybe the smaller bee keeper farms were actually supporting the bee population.
  • I also believed, until I looked into it deeper, that the bees still got to eat their own honey too, as well as the humans.
  • I misguidedly thought that only the big bee farms would harm their bees and that smaller bee keepers would protect them.
  • I had no idea that the honey bee is only one of 20,000 species of bees or that the honey bee could threaten some of the wild bee population.
Bee collecting nectar

Some of the Main Points from the Video on Why Honey isn’t Vegan (By Ed Winters)

Ed Winters’ nick-name is Earthling Ed, and he’s an inspiration to the world of vegan, educating people on the ins and outs of veganism and why the future is vegan.

Here goes for the mind-boggling facts about why honey clearly isn’t vegan or an ethical choice for the planet.

  • While you may think a bee is just an insect, it’s actually a pretty intelligent one.
  • Bees have a brain and nervous system and they’ve been shown to have emotions.
  • In bee farming, the bees aren’t left to breed naturally, instead about 12-14 drones are squeezed to get their semen, killing the drones in the process. The semen is then injected into the queen bee.
  • In the winter the hive is (often) killed off in horrible ways (gassing, over heating, burning to death. . . ) because it costs more to feed them through the winter than it does to kill them and re-stock.
  • The ways of killing the bees are brutal.
  • Some bee keepers just kill a percentage of the hive or the queen.
  • The queen bee often has her wings clipped.
  • Honey is produced by bees eating nectar, then regurgitating it many times. It takes a whole lifetime of 12 worker bees to make one teaspoon of honey for you to eat in one second.
  • Bees can be bought and sold and sent through the post. Not only queen bees, whole colonies can be sent in the mail in a box.
  • The commercial and selective breeding of honey bees helps to spread diseases and parasites which can pass to wild bumble bee populations when they visit the same flower.
  • Bee populations are in decline but the honey bee isn’t. The honey bee population has risen, which can actually pressurise the wild bee population. Honey bees in large numbers will push out the wild bees, reducing the bio diversity among bees.

Watch the Video to Make Up Your Own Mind on Why isn’t Honey Vegan?

The best way to understand the reason why honey isn’t vegan is to watch this video by Ed Winters.

It shows very clearly some of the unethical concerns about humans eating honey and (in my opinion) explains it much better than I could possibly write it.

I hope you enjoyed reading about why honey isn’t vegan and seeing Ed Winter’s video on the honey bee population.

What to Use Instead of Honey in a Vegan Kitchen

The most favourite sweetener to replace honey in a vegan kitchen is maple syrup which you can easily source and use as a substitute.

We also have, here in Spain miel de caña (cane sugar honey) which can be used in some recipes in place of honey.

There are other sweeteners available, but maple syrup is the most honey-like option.

Being Vegan Brings You More than Just Health

Becoming vegan & living from a whole foods plant based diet can be one of the healthiest things you can do for yourself.

Especially a wfpb diet has been shown to help reverse diabetes, lower blood pressure, lower blood sugar, support heart health and reverse heart disease.

The list of health benefits is much more than that and so many people have been cured from chronic disease just by adopting a (real food) vegan or wfpb way of life.

But being vegan brings so much more than that. As you start out on your journey, you may think you’re beginning a new diet for the animals wellbeing, for your health or vegan for the environment, but as you start your journey, strange things occur.

  • You become more at peace.
  • You become a happier person.
  • You become more fulfilled.

Becoming vegan is a journey which I hope as many people as possible will be able to experience in their lifetime, because it has so much power to uplift your life.

I really do believe that by becoming vegan you’re aligning with your inner child and that will bring you inner peace and happiness. But there are also other compelling reasons to be vegan.

When you’re vegan everything about eating as a vegan wfpb becomes easier. What looked difficult from the outside, looks easy and fun once you’re doing it.

If it’s not easy yet, here are 10 tips for the vegan kitchen that will make your life easier and also some simple vegan lifestyle hacks for transitioninng to a vegan lifestyle.

Finally, if you’re still considering going vegan, here’s a simple guide to starting an awesome vegan lifestyle

2 Responses

  1. Gloria Loring
    | Reply

    l’ll never eat honey again after watching that video!

    • Soraya
      | Reply

      I completely agree! It’s powerful isn’t it!

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