Honey is not vegan. Bees make it, and bees are animals. Hence, it is not vegan by any definition. However, some vegans may choose to eat honey; it depends on where you draw the line as a vegan.
Vegans who are okay with honey usually buy it from local farms as small beekeepers don’t expose honeybees to cruel practices like commercial farms.
Why Don’t Vegans Eat Honey?
Vegans refuse to eat honey because insects make it and insects are animals. Veganism is focused on cruelty-free practices and justice for animals. Strict vegans not only reject food made from or made by animals but also focus on avoiding animal-derived clothing, medicines, and cosmetics.
Honeybees are exposed to cruel practices for honey farming. These practices are even concerning for vegetarians and non-vegans.
Wing Clipping: Many commercial honey farm owners clip honeybee wings to stop the queen bee from starting other hives or leaving before the hive is finished.
Pesticide Use: The hives are sprayed with pesticides to stop insects and fungi attacks.
Honey Substitutes: The honey in the hive is replaced with sweeteners like high fructose corn syrup to increase honey production. It starves bees and makes them weak.
Hive Burning: Beehives affected by American Four Brood are burned to stop the spread of the disease. It is a contagious disease that can be prevented by regular monitoring and timely action instead of burning.
Why do some Vegans Eat Honey?
You may see some vegans eating honey produced by local farms. They opine that honey from local farms is bee-friendly and doesn’t local beekeepers don’t expose bees to cruel practices like commercial farms. Some local farms sell honey during the spring season. It is the leftover honey after bees have already eaten what they need for the winter season.
This doesn’t mean that local honey is vegan. It is less cruel but robs bees of what they produce. Moreover, some vegans are okay with foods made by insects. It must be your decision, as no one else should decide what you eat.
Some vegans believe that more bees are good for the environment. Insects like bees, wasps, beetles, and wasps are essential for plant pollination. More honey consumption means more bees and more plants on earth. This is partly true, but commercial farms increase honeybee colonies and reduce the number of other pollinators, reducing ecosystem diversity.
Vegan Substitutes for Honey
There are many plant-based sweeteners that vegans can use in recipes that call for regular honey. However, all these options are rich in sugar and must be consumed in moderation. Let’s check out the common substitutes for honey.
Agave Nectar: It is made from agave plants. Agave nectar is 100% plant-based, and its texture and taste are similar to honey.
Maple Syrup: It is made from maple tree sap and is a famous honey and refined sugar substitute.
Date Syrup: It is made by mixing boiled dates with water. The caramel-like sweetener can be made at home, and you can control its thickness by adjusting the water in the mix.
Barley Malt Syrup: A dark brown, thick, and sticky sweetener made from barley sprouts.
Blackstrap Molasses: The sweetener has a thick texture and is derived from sugar cane juice by boiling it 3-4 times. It is rich in calcium, iron, and antioxidants.
Brown Rice Syrup: It is made by exposing brown rice to enzymes that break down the starch in them. The sweetener has a distinctive odor, and it is also known as rice syrup or rice malt.
Bee-Free Honey: Bee-free honey is genetically engineered from regular honey DNA. No bees are harmed during the process. Since it is prepared in controlled condition, its texture and taste are identical to regular honey.
Can I make Vegan Honey at home?
Yes. You can make vegan honey at home using apple juice, lemon juice, sugar, chamomile, or clover tea. Homemade honey may not have the texture of regular honey, but it is the safest option for vegans.
Check out the links below to learn more about different types and brands of honey!