Is Honey Vegan?
Is Honey Vegan?
Honey is a widely debated topic among vegans and non-vegans. Vegans avoid honey and bee products because it is made by an animal. Veganism is an ethical philosophy based on the idea that humans do not have the right to use animals in any way and doing so is considered exploitative. This ethical stance means we should avoid all forms of exploitation and human dominance, including taking honey from the bees. But what if the honey is ethically produced?
The issues with most commercial honey are that conventional beekeepers often disregard what’s best for the bees in order to maximise the colony’s honey production for a higher profit. As a result, the conditions at most commercial apiaries are unhealthy and inhumane.
On an ethical bee farm, bees never work harder than they naturally would and are never housed in hives that are bigger than the colony needs. The hives always have enough honey left in store to feed the colony throughout the winter months, the bees never travel long-distance to pollinate flowers and they get a diverse mix of nutrients from the nectar of a variety of nearby flowering plants. Often, honeybees do not only collect specific nectar from nearby fields but also pollinate the flowers of wild plants and vegetables in the process, creating new life. Hence, no two honey from the same flower ever tastes the same. This is the beauty of letting nature and bees dictate.
Also important to point out that ethical beekeepers only promote natural insemination. Forced breeding, practised at commercial apiaries allows beekeepers to create multiple queens and expand their colonies too quickly and too often, this way weakening the gene pool and making the new generation more susceptible to pathogens and parasites.
Sustainably sourced ethical honey
As the demand for honey overweighs supply, most honey producers are not practising ethical beekeeping. So how do we know who does? Honey from small, family-run farms has a far higher tendency to be ethical and sustainable than honey from commercial outlets.
We at Raw Artisan Honey only work with small, independent farms practising sustainable and ethical beekeeping and our aim is to get a fair price for their hard work in order to provide the best care for their bees. We are not mixing our raw honey from different sources, thus each honey bears the true characteristic of the type of plant and region it’s been collected from … and hints of other plants the bees visited while foraging on the fields. All our honey has great traceability back to the producer and their character doesn’t change from the time of harvesting.
To enjoy all the health benefits of honey while ensuring it is humanely produced, always search for a product that is labelled as raw, unfiltered and organic. Try to avoid honey that labelled as blended. Overall, ethical honey would come from beekeepers that are more concerned about the health and welfare of the bees than of maximising honey production.
That said, although even ethically sourced honey might not be considered vegan, it is without a doubt that bees are vital to helping plants grow, breed and produce food. Maintaining the bee population is critical to maintaining active pollination. Ethical beekeeping contributes to the environment by helping to balance the food chain. The healthy bee population creates environmental stability and balance in nature.