If you’re someone who is vegan, or someone who has plans to be vegan in the future, know that there will be a time in your life when you are asked this question. “Do you eat honey?”

Now you would think that the answer is simply, “No.” But in this instance, though technically by definition a vegan is a person who does not consume any animal products, the answer is not-so straight forward, and actually a common argument and topic within, and outside of, the vegan community.

First, let’s learn the basics.

Honey from bees has been collected by humans for (at the very least) the last 8,000 years. It is often used as a sweetener and utilized as an alternative to sugar. Honey has basically no significant nutritional value.

Now, onto what honey actually is, and how it’s made. Honey is flower nectar that has been regurgitated (yes, thrown up) over and over again until it is somewhat digested. It is then stored in a wax honeycomb and fanned by hive bees so that it becomes less watery and thickens up into the consistency that we all know and recognize as honey.

The reason bees make honey is so that throughout the colder winter months they have a stockpile of food for them to live off of. Honey is also not easy for honey bees to make. It would take a group of eight honey bees all of their lives to create just one tsp of honey.

Now that’s dedication!

When vegans who are against the use of honey share their view of the honey argument, these aspects are often contained within their reasoning:

  • Bees produce honey for themselves. We shouldn’t be taking something that isn’t ours.
  • When beekeepers take the honey from the bees they replace the honey with a sugar -water solution food replacement. If the bees are making the honey, they are obviously making it for a reason and should be eating what they create naturally for survival.
  • Inevitably, if you keep bees, you are going to accidentally kill some of the bees in the process of procuring the honey from them.
  • Honey is an easy thing to live without and can be replaced easily by things like agave nectar and maple syrup.
  • There are some parallels to the dairy industry where the milk is meant for the calf but it is taken away from them for human consumption.
  • In beekeeping, the queens bees are killed and replaced by younger bees at the discretion of the beekeeper.

This User on Reddit summed up a lot of things about consuming and purchasing honey pretty nicely.

What are your thoughts on the topic? Be sure to share in the comments!

Above Photo by Karunakar Rayker via Flickr.