Is honey vegan?
Google “is honey vegan?” and you’ll get hundreds of millions of hits. Not surprisingly, we get this question a lot. And the answer is no, honey is not vegan. Read on for why not.
What is honey?
Bees make honey using nectar from flowering plants and they store it in the hive as a source of food. It provides essential nutrients to the entire hive, and is a crucial source of energy for survival through winter and poor weather. Without it, bees would starve.
And they work hard for it. Bees need nectar from five million flowers just to produce one pound of honey!
Why honey isn’t vegan
The definition of veganism, according to The Vegan Society, is:
“A way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose.”
Since honey is food for bees and essential to their survival, it makes sense that human consumption is considered exploitation.
Doesn’t beekeeping help increase declining bee populations?
Bees are important pollinators. They’re responsible for one in every three bites of food we eat! That’s why it’s so scary that their global populations are declining. This includes both honeybees and wild bees!
Natural, or bee-centered, beekeeping can be a way to help bees. Unlike conventional beekeeping, bee-centered beekeeping’s focus is on helping bees thrive through supporting their natural life cycle – not to harvest honey.
Here are just a few specific ways natural beekeepers help, rather than exploit, bees:
- They provide suitable sites that attract bees, like hollowed out trees, instead of boxes.
- Hives require set conditions to function properly, including specific temperatures and levels of humidity. Natural beekeepers open the hive infrequently to prevent offsetting internal conditions.
- They do not participate in artificial breeding practices.
For a more detailed look at the differences between natural and conventional beekeeping, check out Natural Beekeeping Trust.
Conventional beekeeping is not cruelty-free
In order to make bigger profits, conventional beekeepers replace honey from the hive with a sugar substitute that lacks proper nutrients.
Moreover, honey bees are bred to increase productivity. This selective breeding weakens the gene pool and brings about diseases that spread to thousands of other pollinators on which our food supply relies on.
Bees reproduce through a process called swarming, which involves tens of thousands of bees leaving the hive at once. According to Natural Beekeeping Trust, some conventional beekeepers even cut the wings of queen bees so that they cannot fly away with the swarm and take honey with them.
Exploiting bees for honey is not only harmful but also unnecessary. There are plenty of equally yummy, natural, and cruelty-free ways to sweeten your tea!
5 vegan honey alternatives
But don’t worry, saying no to honey doesn’t mean you’ll be short on natural sweetener options. Here are just a few natural vegan sweeteners you can use in place of honey:
- Brown rice syrup
- Agave nectar
- Maple syrup
Wear your love for bees on your sleeve
You can also wear your support with our “Plant these, save the bees” eco tee.
How you can help save bees
Looking for other ways to show bees some love? Check out this post about 3 ways you can help save bees.
One simple way is to plant a bee-friendly garden. Here’s a post that breaks down everything you need to know to get started: