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Is Honey a Vegan Food?

While many vegans have earnestly shared with me their reasons why they don’t eat honey, beekeepers have also stepped forward to raise their points regarding the beliefs of vegans who will not eat honey. As the debate turns out to be ubiquitous and unresolved, I feel that the answer seems to lie in no more than just holding on to a certain perspective and not so much about judging who is more reasonable or pursuing truths anymore. Following is gist of the arguments. You read, formulate your stance, and decide who has a stronger case.

“Honey is not a vegan food.”

“True vegans are against any form of exploitation of animals, including bees. Beekeeping, like dairy farming, can be exploitative. A number of bees are inadvertently killed in the management of beekeeping, which involves forcing bees to construct their combs in trays and undermining their natural ability to overcome parasites, cruel imprisonment of the queen bee to certain parts of the hive, the manipulative split of colonies to increase honey production, use of antibiotics, smoking hives to dull the bees’ senses, and stealing the bees’ honey and feeding them with sugar instead, hence honey is not a vegan food and should be forbidden as an animal product.”

“Honey is a vegan food.”

“Just sit and watch the coming in and going out of the bees from their hives, or even open a hive and take a frame out and watch the bees. They are contented because they are cared for and protected! Beekeepers might be seen as stealing honey from the bees, but they give them so much extra food that it doesn’t hurt them. It’s not like the queen bee is confined, the queen can and will take her colony and start a new hive if she so desires, no one can stop her. If the bees are given shelter and choose to stay, let them stay. They love what they do. The relationship between the bees and their beekeeper is mutual and interdependent. Just stop eating honey from abusing beekeepers who don’t respect bees and take all their honey away, but don’t label honey as non-vegan.”

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