This morning I had toast with earth balance "butter" and a little bit of honey, along with a side of fresh strawberries. I know that honey is normally an issue of debate for most vegans so I decided to do some research on it.
Many vegans will not eat honey because they believe that honey bees are being mistreated and in some cases I guess they are. The two articles I read were "Why Honey is Not Vegan" by Noah Lewis and "Is Honey Vegan?" by Keith Akers.
Some of the key arguments against honey in the article "Why Honey is Not Vegan" are the following:
* When harvesting honey farmers are not just taking the excess honey but all of the it, which the bees normally use as food supply. In its place farmers feed them sugar syrup or corn syrup.
* It is also not environmentally friendly for farmers will move the bee hives in truck loads all around the country to follow the more plentiful nectar in order to increase honey production and profit.
* Many bees dye in the process of harvesting the honey. Also since 10 to 20 percent of hives are lost over the winter some bee keepers have the practice of killing off their hives before winter for economical purposes.
While all these views are valid I also read another article "Is Honey Vegan?" which summarized "Why Honey is Vegan" by Dr. Michael Greger in Satya in September 2005. In that article Dr. Greger said vegans should rethink their position on honey.
The reasons he stated were:
1) Abstaining from honey because of the concern for insects is not consistent since other activities and products consumed by vegans kills more insects than beekeeping.
- An example of this would be that there are many rental bees are used to pollinate all the vegetable crops we eat and have a worse off life than honey bees. Rental bees spend the majority of there lives sealed in the back of trucks, while being shipped across the country on a diet of high fructose corn syrup.
2) He also compared how while some honey bees are killed in the process they aren't even necessarily directly killed by humans. They could have been swashed in the process, but we are normally not actively trying to kill them. On the other hand factory farmed egg-laying chickens are being killed by humans when they no longer are able to produce.
3) Once again in comparison factory farmed chickens live in horrible conditions while honey bees live a relatively natural life.
After reading both positions I came to the conclusion that I would not buy commercialized honey from my nearby grocery store. Instead I would purchase it from bee keepers at farmers markets or people I know. The honey I used in my breakfast was actually from my own brother's bee hive and he has never mistreated them so don't see what would be the problem with using that particular honey? I understand why vegans wouldn't want to consume honey from companies who kill them off in the winter and such, but what is wrong with a local beekeeper's honey?
For those of you who are die hard vegans, but love the consistency of honey, there are also substitutes products out there that mimics honey.