Is honey considered a vegan food? If you have friends who follow a vegan diet, you may be surprised to learn that some of them do not eat honey. We sometimes think of a vegan lifestyle as meaning the same as vegetarian. However, while vegetarianism and veganism share some similarities – they are not the same. So, is Honey Vegan? Well, it depends on who you ask.
Can Honey Be Included in a Vegan Diet?
Veganism is often described as a way of life that attempts to exclude any form of animal exploitation. There are several reasons one may choose to follow a strict vegan diet.
May contain affiliate links. Read my privacy and affiliate disclosure policy for more info.
Some do so to promote a healthier lifestyle and perhaps avoid some diseases that result from eating a lot of red meat. Others feel strongly about harming animals and do not want them to be killed or harmed for food.
For people who follow a strict vegan diet, any food from plants is okay. But, foods that come from animals is off limits. Right away you can see that burgers, steaks and chicken tenders are not on the menu.
But, this restriction is not limited to meat. It includes products harvested from animals such as eggs, cheese, milk and yes… honey.
Why is Honey Not Vegan (for most people)
No one can deny that some bees are harmed in any honey harvesting operation. This is especially true in large commercial companies that have to work thousands of hives each season. Trying to ensure that no bees were killed or harmed would be impossible.
However, beekeeping is like any other type of farming, there are many ways to make it work. Many considerate beekeepers only take the excess crop. Leaving the colony plenty of their own honey for Winter.
These beekeepers also do their best to avoid bee deaths as much as possible. They keep bees for the joy and connection with nature, honey productions is not the main goal. That is not always possible when running a large business for profit.
However, honey is a controversial issue for many who practice veganism. They are not sure the idea of avoiding animal exploitation extends to insects.
For this reason, some vegans follow a plant only diet but include honey on their menu. They also consume bee pollen and other hive products that are harvested without killing the hive.
Plant Foods Resulting From Bee Pollination
To add even more controversy to the issue, what about foods that depend on bees like almond crops or avocados? Neither crop can be successfully grown without bee pollination. Does this make these products – even almond milk- off limits too?
When large numbers of colonies are shipped in to pollinate these mono-floral crops, bee health does suffer. During the weeks they are in the field, their nutrition is poor due to a limited variety of food.
Can Honey be Part of a Vegan Diet
Some vegans do not adhere to a strict diet. They add honey to their diet while avoiding all of the other animal based foods.
These people search out beekeepers who are extra conscientious about hive management. Tending their colonies to avoid harming the bees to the extent possible.
What is Vegan Honey Made From?
You may hear the term vegan honey. By definition, true honey is a product produced by bees from plant nectar. However, since bee honey is off the menu – there is a vegan honey substitute that is used.
These products are made from plant-based sweeteners and can be used in the same way as honey. They include molasses, maple syrup and other sweet products derived from plant juices.
For those who adhere to the strict vegan lifestyle, honey is not allowed. This includes any recipes made with honey. But, those who adopt a softer approach to this philosophy, can keep bee honey as part of their diet.