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  • Writer's pictureSheRonda Berry

Honey Please...They're Just Bees

Photo by: George Desipri

Veganism is quickly becoming a more mainstream concept, but that’s not to say that everyone understands the movement completely. Even many vegans learn as they go! Yet, there’s one aspect of the diet and lifestyle that seems to stump a lot of people - the fact that vegans don’t eat honey.

Although many non-vegans get why plant-based diets avoid meat, fish, eggs, and dairy, the “no honey” rule still tends to invite a touch of skepticism.

So, let’s talk. Why don’t vegans eat honey, and why do we care about the fluffy little pollinators (aka the world’s most important species) that create it?

Honey, Bees Don’t Work For Us!

Photo by: Ante Lusina

One of the many reasons why vegans don’t drink milk is because it’s for baby cows, not humans. The same principle applies to honey. Bees don’t produce honey for us to sweeten tea and oatmeal - they produce it to feed their colony during the coldest months of the year.

Over the winter, when plants and their pollen start to wither away, honey bees rely on the reserves of nectar they’ve stored in their hive for energy and vital nutrients. Yet, when bees are farmed commercially, this honey is taken, processed, and sold in grocery stores.

Instead of feasting on their honey supply over winter, they’ll then be fed a sugar-based syrup that doesn’t contain the nutrients they need and leaves them vulnerable to disease and infection.

Bees are already under threat from excessive pesticide use and depleting flower species, so commercial farming methods that weaken colony immune systems aren’t particularly well-liked by vegans.

Bee Farming? It’s Not as Ethical As You Might Think

Photo by: Julia Filirovska

Like most forms of animal and insect farming, commercial bee farming has one clear goal: to maximize product yield while minimizing time and cost.

This means that many commercial bee farmers use techniques and practices that most vegans consider being unethical, such as clipping the wings of a hive’s queen to stop her and the rest of her colony from flying away.

That’s not all. Once they’ve produced enough honey for the season, hives are often culled using cyanide gas as it’s less expensive to buy a whole new colony than to feed and care for bees over the winter months.

When honey bee populations are declining at a worrying rate, these farming methods seem pretty unconscionable to those following a vegan lifestyle.

Who Needs Honey, Anyway?

Having second thoughts about eating honey but wondering what you’ll replace it with? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

The vegan food market is booming, and honey alternatives are coming in thick and fast! Plus, there are plenty of other products with the same sugary taste and sticky consistency of honey that are 100% insect and animal-free.

Next time you hit the grocery store, keep an eye out for vegan “honey” or check out one of these alternatives:

Maple syrup


Agave nectar

Brown rice syrup

Golden syrup.

With so many to choose from, who needs honey?

Photo by: Magda Ehl

If you’re interested in learning more about veganism, connect with us at The Cultivated Vegan today. Listen to our podcast, read our blogs, browse our shop - and say hello!

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