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Is Honey Vegan?

Is Honey Vegan? We Know You Were Wondering, So We Investigated

I've been vegan for a long time, and until recently, I wasn't completely sure whether honey was allowed in my diet. I had heard a few different answers over the years, but I didn't know what to exactly believe, so I've just been avoiding honey for a long time out of sheer confusion. A lot of people who aren't even vegan ask me quite often whether honey is something that vegans can eat, so clearly I'm not the only one who's wondering what the deal is with this natural sweetener.

Without further ado, I'll tell you that honey technically isn't vegan, although there are some vegans out there who eat it, and that's perfectly OK. But the general consensus is that honey comes from bees (which are part of the animal kingdom), and the way in which honey is collected from bees is neither natural nor kind. Put that to test with the whole philosophy of veganism — no animal products of any kind — and you're left with the answer that, no, honey isn't a vegan food.

Although bees naturally make honey, the honey we eat isn't made in a natural way. Bees are artificially inseminated in order to multiply and produce more honey. Commercially made honey is made from beekeeping large colonies of trapped bees that live in fake conditions, and this process is painfully similar to factory farming of chickens, pigs, and cows. You may not have known this, but many bees are harmed and killed in the process of making honey, and when farmers remove honey from the hive, they replace it with a sugar substitute, which is extremely bad for the bees' health, because, remember, unlike humans, bees desperately need honey to survive. When they don't get the nutrients from honey they need, they either fall ill or die.

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In order to collect the honey from the hives, beekeepers will fill the whole area with smoke, which convinces the bees that there is a forest fire. They then immediately evacuate, which allows for the farmers to gather the honey. This displacement causes stress on the bee colonies. Furthermore, during the Winter, when the bees don't produce honey (they spend the rest of the year making honey in order to last them through Winter), many farmers kill off all the bees because it's much more cost efficient to get rid of them than take care of them during the off-season.

You may hear that only purist vegans don't eat honey, and that it's an "extreme" diet choice. Maybe so, but whatever you want to call it, it seems that honey isn't technically part of the vegan diet. Luckily, there are all sorts of great alternatives, like maple syrup (my personal favorite), agave syrup, molasses, and brown rice syrup.

Image Source: POPSUGAR Photography / Sheila Gim
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