Honey is not vegan. It doesn’t matter the argument that no bees are killed in the process, or that we know people who identify themselves as vegans and include it in their diets.
We don’t need to kill them to obtain honey, but their situation is far more complex than we think. Some time ago, the Vegan Society — a British charity that campaigns against animal exploitation — started spreading the word about it.
They published an article explaining why we should avoid honey. One reason is that bees produce honey for their own consumption, not ours (sorry, we’re not that important).
Honey is their only source of food in times of bad weather and winter. Each bee produces just a twelfth of a teaspoon of honey in its lifetime. Why get their food when we have so many options to choose from?
Besides, when removing honey from hives, farmers replace it with a sugar substitute. This is unhealthy for bees because they need to work overtime, with no breaks, to produce more honey.
As if all these barriers weren’t enough, some bees can indeed die when farmers collect their honey. That’s because if they sting the farmers, they leave behind not only the stinger, but also part of their abdomen, digestive tract, muscles and nerves (to which the stinger was attached). It’s too much damage to resist.
Bees also face extinction. If they really disappear, it can be a disaster for the ecosystem and our survival as a species. Bees are responsible for pollination (transfer of pollen from the anther to the stigma of a plant), a process that provides seeds. A number of plants and crops depend on bees. No crops, no food.
Vegan or not, if you’re used to honey in your recipes, why don’t you look for alternatives? Mexico produces agave. Canada, maple syrup. They’re made of plants and make great substitutes for honey.
I’ve used both: maple syrup in my cakes and waffles, and agave in my coffee and any beverage I’d like some sweetener. They taste awesome, and I’m protecting the environment. By the way, a study suggests that maple syrup has anti-cancer properties as well.
Published by Japanese researchers on the Oncology Reports journal, the study shows the effects of three types of maple syrup on colorectal cell proliferation, migration and invasion.
Those researchers indicate that cells that were administered maple syrup showed “significantly lower growth rates than cells that were administered sucrose.” Interesting, no?
Nobody is telling us to consume litres of maple syrup. Everything needs moderation. But if we, at least, replace honey with any plant-based sweetener, the good deeds will come back to us. That’s karma :).
Photo credit: Markus Trienke via Flickr