Why is honey not vegan-friendly?

March 11, 2009 at 12:00 am 26 comments

My husband asked me that exact question lastnight. I told him that I would find out.

Yes,yes, I know that honey is an animal product but I simply couldn’t get it through my head that honey wasn’t cruelty-free. I mean, how could these honey bees be harmed in the making of honey? How could we harm such small creatures?
First let’s talk about Bees. Most people argue that a honeybee is not intelligent, therefore, it’s okay to take the honey from them. Well, if intelligence was what denoted whether we should eat something or not, quite a few humans would have a problem on their hands. Honeybees are, in some ways, intelligent. When trying to find the perfect place to gather nectar from flowers, a couple of bees will scout out an area and then come back to the hive. The bees that came from the places that had a good amount of nectar would be well recieved, while those who came back from a place without nectar would not. The bees would then follow the bee that had been in the nectar-rich area and all benefit from his findings. So, in some way, they communicate and understand one another.
And what exactly is honey? Well, honey is created by honeybees eating, partially digesting and then regurgitating nectar from flowers. Each time they do this (about 50 times for fully developed honey) they sweeten the nectar by breaking down the sugars into more simpler forms and then spreading it around the hive, allowing the heat from sunlight to evaporate the water. Now, just thinking about honey is making me sick to my stomach. I feel like I’m eating sweetened bee spit.
How are these honeybees treated, you ask? Interesting that you should ask that! When I thought of honey farming before today, I thought of a couple bee hives off in the distance from a home, a gentle hum of honeybees and the smell of honey radiating from it. Then I thought about all of those bottles of honey in the stores I go to. Woah, how the heck do they get all that honey from those few, well-tended bee hives?! And the answer is: they don’t. Honeybees are farms exactly like other factory farm animals. They’re placed in tight confinement with thousands of other bees, sedated when needs be, seperated from the hive when needs be and most terrible of all, the queen bee, the mother of all the other bees, is killed off in order to assert control over the hive. How wonderful…
Still feel like eating honey? I know!! It’s just so darned sweet and delicious. And they’re just *REALLY* *REALLY* small animals. Ehh… I can’t live with that. I vowed not to harm any animals, and if eating honey is promoting the pain of the honeybees (even if I’m allergic to them) then I dont know if I can continue to enjoy it as I always have.

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Looks good enough to eat. Hidden Antibiotics

26 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Ley  |  March 11, 2009 at 6:05 pm

    Aww, I love bees!!!

    I see how it’s cruel in those large factories, where they care more about the product than the actual producers. But I’ve known quite a few small, local bee keepers that sell amazing honey that treat their bees very good (I’ve actually gotten to meet the bees that made my honey!). I know some still believe it’s cruel to use anything from the animals (and I don’t agree with consuming the actual honeycomb), but many of the people care deeply about the animals (or bees!) they own and would never set out to harm them in any way- after all, they support each other! I think it just goes back to choosing small, local businesses who are still passionate about creating quality products with compassion over larger companies who sink to disgustingly inhumane levels solely for profit.

    • 2. dolcecakes  |  March 11, 2009 at 6:27 pm

      Thanks for the comment, Ley!

      I agree with you completely. I believe that if you can find honey from a very caring beekeeper that knows his/her bees and take very good care of them, then consuming that honey isn’t some Vegan mortal sin! I love me some honey and what normal people call ‘honey’ really is NOT honey at all. So, I go for the good stuff mostly, anyways. I’m very confident in the fact that if I buy my honey from a local beekeeper, I’m not harming any animals in doing so.
      Unfortunately, the point that most Vegans want to make is that they don’t want to exploit any creature for its meat, or what it can produce, no matter what the size.

    • 3. grace  |  July 2, 2012 at 6:52 pm

      Want it put on a level you can understand – you work from 9-5 everyday and at the end of the week, you don’t get a paycheck. Same thing a bee works continually to get pollen for honey and when its all done, you take the honey. The beekeeper is a nice guy, just like your boss. You take the honey, just as humanely, we take your paycheck. Feel good about that?

  • 4. smartie  |  June 26, 2009 at 7:57 pm

    thanks for the information! I was two-minded about eating honey, but now i’ve made up my mind… (the knees in the honey kinda freaked me out though). I do kill bacteria on my body, as well as ants and cockroaches when they invade my space by building nests in my kitchen – much the same way i’d have killed the european settlers who invaded my country in 1652. (some of them haven’t left… you see what happens when you don’t deal with infestation on time!) just kidding… :-). they can stay, i suppose…

    therefore i wouldn’t call myself vegan, beegan, fleagan, vegetarian or any other term… why get stuck on the details of definition anyway… it’s all good… 🙂

  • 5. Babrara  |  September 18, 2009 at 11:11 pm

    I may off track here but unless vegans grow all their own produce then how do they think their vegan food is pollinated? If the stand is to not enjoy the honey from bees because its cruel to keep them then what is said when those same bees pollinate the plants they eat? They are still benefiting from those same bees. Honestly that just doesn’t make sense.
    As an avid gardner I love my bees and am always appreciative when they come around. As much as vegans want to bash beekeepers, the truth is without them, what we buy, organic or not would be limited at best and so expensive no one would be able to buy it. The bee industry has had its share of problems and concerns over the health and welfare of bees. But things are changing. If you want change for the bees, get involved and make a difference

  • 6. me  |  October 13, 2009 at 4:08 am

    @barbara those bees come by choice, use their honey for themselves and die usually of natural causes, bees held for honey don’t

  • 8. unfriendly  |  June 6, 2010 at 1:35 pm


    • 9. grace  |  July 2, 2012 at 6:54 pm

      Now that’s a great response. Did that tax your brain to come up with that – arteries must be clogging from meat eating. Enjoy Braintrust!

  • 10. Carnivore  |  February 11, 2011 at 2:20 am

    I think you vegan “people” are so self righteous. Yes. I still feel like eating honey. In fact, I feel like cooking up some eggs, and bacon, and making some pancakes with the rest of the eggs and pouring honey all over the entire plate. I love honey so much that I buy it in bulk size bottles from Sams Club. So I guess, you also think that Winnie the Pooh is bad. Do you make your “children” watch vegan-friendly programing? What is up with you “people” eat a raw steak and feel the cow’s blood lovingly caress your arteries and be one with the dead cow. It’s death was not in vain, it has given it’s life so that you could have one too, and sit comfortably on your leather sofa.

    • 11. Herbivore  |  July 19, 2011 at 6:06 pm

      Whoa…angry carnivore = threatened carnivore.

      Instead of being so very frightened by what you instinctively know is the right thing for the planet, the animals & your health, perhaps you should be squirming over the fact that your over-burdened heart, which is choking on animal grease, is about to have an attack. Heart attacks & strokes are diseases of the fork, my friend, which goes to show why vegans do not live in fear of either of these diet-induced ailments.

      Oh, and by the way, us “people”, the vegans whom I’m sure you’re referring to, would no sooner sit on a leather sofa than eat the animal whose skin it once belonged to.

      Knowledge is power, carnivore…please allow yourself a bit of education prior to sounding off on this subject, of which you obviously, painfully, know very little about.

    • 12. shawn  |  June 21, 2012 at 8:53 pm

      U mad bro?

    • 13. grace  |  July 2, 2012 at 6:20 pm

      If some of you folks don’t agree with a vegan lifestyle, why are you perusing a vegan site. Have nothing better to do but argue with folks that don’t really need you name calling and insults. Go trash your own sites!

    • 14. grace  |  July 2, 2012 at 6:46 pm

      Hey Braintrust – you keep eating that honey from Sam’s Clubs. There’s virtually no pollen left in it, and its loaded with water. Its imported from foreign countries which may or may not be contaminated. So in fact enjoy your sweetened bee spit with toxins in it. And as for animals “giving” its life – they don’t give, its taken. You would know that if your arteries weren’t so clogged.

    • 15. sniffsipwoof  |  July 2, 2012 at 6:56 pm

      Don’t feed the trolls!

  • 16. sk  |  July 23, 2011 at 4:00 pm

    Are most vegans pro-life too?

    • 17. sniffsipwoof  |  July 2, 2012 at 8:10 am

      Here’s an interesting thought. I am Vegetarian and transitioning to Vegan. I am Pro-Life, but not judgemental “you’re gonna burn in hell” Pro-Life. So if someone is Pro-Life AND Vegetarian, wouldn’t eating eggs be the same as eating meat? Most Pro-Life people believe life begins at conception so an egg of a chicken is life and therefore eating it is no different than eating a chicken. Hmmmmmmmm.

      • 18. grace  |  July 2, 2012 at 6:25 pm

        The eggs people eat are not fertilized eggs. Chickens lay thousands of eggs even when not “dancing” with the rooster. Its not the same as being pro life. I wouldn’t eat a fertilized egg. That would be eating a life. So if you’re vegetarian, you are not eating a sentient being. But for vegans they are a product of the chicken so they don’t eat.

      • 19. sniffsipwoof  |  July 2, 2012 at 6:58 pm

        I’m such a dummy. At one time, I knew that about eggs – that not all are fertilized. LOL. Of course, since I am transitioning to Veganism, I no longer eat them.

  • 20. Joe  |  March 22, 2012 at 3:54 pm


  • 21. bee lover  |  July 2, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I think what is important here is where your honey comes from. Not only does honey provide health benefits but bees who are in your area and stay in your area do pollinate your fields. We have huge populations of bees dying because they are trucked around the country to pollinate various crops around the country – they die because they have been moved from their habitat. If more people kept bees where the originate from, their immune systems would reestablish themselves and we wouldn’t be in close crisis of not have pollinators that we need to produce crops for us or animals. Use local honey and support the effort individuals and local groups are doing to help boost the bee population.

  • 22. hivelicker  |  July 4, 2012 at 4:04 pm

    when someone asserts an obvious bias in an article which is supposed to be informative it only makes me want to go do that thing just to piss them off.

    Keep your articles about information and let people make their own decisions based on your facts, assuming that they are facts and not just some biased jerk making shit up to back their opinion.

    I’ve never heard of them killing the queen, although I have heard of them cutting her wings off so she can’t leave. Killing the queen would only result in the death of the entire hive, or their migration to a new hive which has a queen. If there is another queen present the worker bees will kill the old queen off themselves.

  • 23. Dustin Parker  |  July 7, 2012 at 10:25 am

    You’re a fucking idiot. By tight confined spaces do you mean a BEE HIVE? There is a reason why they keep them like that. Its because that is how bees make their hives in a natural environment. The spacing has to be right in order for them sustain a proper hive. As far as the queens being “killed off” if the other bees in the hive don’t beat the keeper to the punch the only reason for that is for the good of the hive. If the queen is not laying the hive weakens and she must be replaced for the vitality of the hive. The workers will start to make new queens but the old queen will go around killing the new queen brood before it hatches. So just to put your mind at ease and make you feel like the idiot that you are I just figured I’d let you know that.

  • 24. Day 3 « Let Food be thy Medicine  |  January 30, 2013 at 4:18 pm

    […] but I knew it didn’t have any fat in it, so why would it be bad for you? I found an article here on why you shouldn’t eat honey. Bee spit? I’ve been eating bee spit? blyuck! I guess I […]

  • 25. Day 4 « Let Food be thy Medicine  |  January 30, 2013 at 4:45 pm

    […] tomato sauce, italian seasonings, a spoonful of honey (yes! honey again! I still hadn’t read the article), and added some freshly chopped garlic right at the end. I mixed it up with my whole grain pasta […]

  • 26. kids beds in leeds  |  July 26, 2013 at 4:29 am

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