This piece was previously written for Humber Et Cetera and is available HERE.
Although taboo at the time I couldn’t help myself, the temptation started by accident, at the local coffee shop. It then extended over time into my very own home and next thing I knew I was hooked.
There was a shame that drove me to believe what I was doing was wrong, a perpetuated thought pushed by my own community who often them themselves didn’t know any better.
Now I know better and after doing research and some soul-searching, I can look back at my vegan self and realize consuming honey wasn’t as hypocritical as I was lead to believe.
Honey is barred by self-respecting vegans. I’m shameless, I can’t live without it.
The common definition of Veganism on Vegansociety.com is that it is a way of life that seeks to exclude as much as possible all forms of exploitation of and cruelty to animals for many reasons including food and clothing. The definition also used by this association has an emphasis on practicality.
Many vegans simplify this to forbid anything regarding animals which is often a correct simplification of this ideology, but leads to confusion with things such as products from bees. I’ve been told by fellow vegans that the answer was simple, Honey comes from an animal so therefore it is forbidden.
Looking at the definition what has to be determined is if bees are being exploited and does their honey have things that would enhance the health of a person.
On a local level beekeepers and bees have formed what I would consider a symbiotic relationship. The honey bee is a hard worker by nature so they don’t work to a quota. They continuously pollinate flowers and create honey even if they have reached a surplus of honey needed for the hive.
Farmers take this excess honey, along with as beeswax and royal jelly. In return beekeepers keep the hive in optimal conditions and free from disease as much as possible. Local beekeepers ensure the bees have enough honey to last over the winter.
Also many people on plant-based diets like to ignore that honey bees are needed to pollinate the majority of the food they consume. It is my belief that if pollination isn’t exploitative then neither is honey
Unlike other domesticated farm animals they don’t suffer the same injustices that are present in the dairy and meat industries. Some animals are subjected to forced insemination that is common in the dairy industry as cows only produce milk if they’ve given birth, where their calves are taken and often given over to the veal industry.
On factory farms, animals are often kept in the dark from birth to death. Animals being killed for food is part of another political and economics debate I won’t get into in this article.
Bees don’t suffer from those same things as animals. Beekeepers aren’t inseminating bees to produce honey or killing them for their meat. Local farmers can only provide the beekeepers box and plants and have the bees do what nature intended.
In addition, honey has a variety of natural benefits for humans. According to medicalnewstoday.com honey provides a variety of benefits including carbohydrates, vitamins, minerals and antioxidants. Honey is also a natural sweetener that’s been used by humans for centuries and is a major product within the holistic healing community.
And that’s why I believe honey can be included ethically in a vegan diet without a person compromising their values.