Is Honey Vegan ?

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Is Honey Vegan ?


Honey seems to be one of the most controversial food items in veganism today. Talk to any new, or potential, vegans and invariably the following types of questions will arise;  “Is honey vegan or not?”, “Do vegans eat honey” or “Why isn’t honey vegan?”. This is usually followed with discussions such as; “why eating honey is not vegan”, “why honey isn’t vegan” or “why honey seems such a grey areas in veganism”.

Many (but not all) consider the Vegan Society to be a significant authority on defining veganism, and what is, and is not, vegan.

So.. Let’s start by looking at what the Vegan Society have to say about honey and veganism...


Bees in their hive


"Honey is probably the product most frequently mistaken as vegan-friendly. There is a common misconception that honey bees make their honey especially for us, but this couldn’t be much further from the truth. Honey is made by bees for bees, and their health can be sacrificed when it is harvested by humans. Importantly, harvesting honey does not correlate with The Vegan Society's definition of veganism, which seeks to exclude not just cruelty, but exploitation. "



So, now that we have arrived at the fact that consuming honey is not vegan, let’s look deeper into the whole story of why..


Honey bees work really damn hard to produce honey for their winter food stores. It belongs to them and is produced for their own specific purpose.

An average worker bee makes only about 1/12 teaspoon of honey in its entire lifetime!

Amount of honey a bee produces in its lifetimne

Honey removed from a bee colony is often replaced with sugar water solution.

This weakens the bees immune system. Without the essential antibiotic and antioxidant protection that honey provides, the sugar water solution leaves them much more susceptible to disease, which may account for some of the current bee decline (colony collapse disorder).

Add to that, modern day mass pesticide usage in agriculture, and you have a lot of potentially compromised or deceased bees.

Honey bees pollinating flowers

Bees are definitely required for some plant pollination processes. Wild bees also pollinate plants, however they are not used commercially, purely because they don’t produce honey which can be exploited, as an additional revenue stream, to extend their pollination business income. Wild bees are more effective at pollination than honey bees.

Bees are harmed and killed in the commercial honey process. It’s not just a few that may be inadvertently killed or injured in the smoking, removal and extraction process, or the ones that are injured or die from an unsustainable sugar water diet, but in industrial bee farming, it is not uncommon for entire hives to be “mass culled” purely because it is cheaper than feeding the bees during the Winter.

Honey has antibiotic properties and may be damaging to your gut microbiome.


Honey is tested on animals. Animal testing is something that NO vegan supports.

Honey has been tested on; cattle, sheep, goats, horses, donkeys, dogs, cats and laboratory animals (including; mice, rats and rabbits).

You can read the extensive details about honey being tested on animals here > https://www.yourdailyvegan.com/2016/03/if-you-eat-honey-read-this/


Keeping honey bees doesn’t save bees – or the environment!

Bee populations are in decline.

There are thousands of species of bees. Different bee species have differing foraging preferences, meaning certain plants depend on compatible bees. Focussing on a single bee species, just because they produce honey) means that regions can be overwhelmed with bees that leave plants without effective pollinators.

What plants attract bees

Honeybees are extremely efficient at collecting pollen and returning it to their hives, but as a consequence they transfer little to the flowers they visit.

Honey bee hives are often sold locally and internationally, allowing the swift spread of diseases and parasites, including; deformed wing virus and Varroa mite. These pathogens can spread from commercial hives into wild bumblebee populations and spread between wild bee species when they visit the same flower.


So, does this mean there are no options for vegans who love the taste of honey? Is there honey for vegans? Can you make honey vegan friendly?

The only option, when it comes to honey for vegans is to find honey substitute products.

Honey substitutes for vegan include; date syrup, maple syrup, molasses, butterscotch syrup, golden syrup and agave nectar. I’ve also seen vegan honey substitutes made from apple.

Vegan honey substitutes
Vegan Honey Woolworths Vegan Honey Australia

If you would like to get involved in helping bees in Australia then check out > https://actforbees.org/ for some good ideas.


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