Whenever I have to make a confession, I always hear Usher singing, “These are my confessions,” from his famous song. He’s crooning this very moment because…I’m a vegan with mixed feelings about honey.
After swearing off all other animal products, I wavered on the honey issue. I used agave or maple syrup in baking, but if small traces of it were in whole grain bread, I let it slide. My stance on honey was entirely situation dependent. Like most other insignificant things that constantly invade my thoughts, it worried me. I know I’m not alone in this matter, and although the great vegan honey debate has been written about time and again, I offer a new perspective on the age old argument. What’s my perspective, you ask? It’s the perspective of I don’t know what I feel and it’ s okay if you don’t either.
This is not an opinion piece, because if it was, it would sound like it was written by a bipolar schizophrenic. (It’s written by me, which isn’t much better, but a little more structured.) Instead, I offer you some facts and, if you choose to accept it, some freedom.
Fast Facts About Honey:
- It’s technically plant based. Honey starts out as a nectar that bees derive from flowers.
- It’s also technically bee throw-up. After the foraging bees return to their hives, they regurgitate the nectar and pass it on to the worker bees.
- Edible honey is the nectar evaporated by the worker bees. The evaporation process is done through continuous bee consumption and regurgitation. (So, more bee vomit.)
- To extract honey, bee keepers use bee smokers to make the bees stop working and start consuming honey. The smoke makes the bees think that there is a fire which makes them less agitated and defensive.
- Smoking bees helps get rid of mites. Smoke residue conflicts with the bees’ natural smell, pheromones from the queen, and interferes with the communications of the hive. This sounds like a bad thing, but it forces the bees to go into a hyper active cleaning period. Thus, they groom themselves, getting rid of more mites than usual, which is good for the bees.
- Colony Collapse Disorder (CCD) are making bees disappear and it’s freaking people out.
- CCD primarily affects domestic, commercial honeybees because of mass reliance upon these populations for honey production and crop pollination. Most bees are not commercial honeybees, but pretty much all honey is derived from commercial colonies.
These are a just a few facts about honey. It’s a combination of flower juice and bee puke, extracted carefully and usually non-threateningly. However, too much of a good thing has proven dangerous for commercial honeybees who are dropping like flies (pardon the insect pun). Furthermore, depending on your vegan views, you might be against the entire concept that a population of bees are raised exclusively for producing honey and pollinating crops. It’s a similar concept to commercial cows and chickens raised exclusively to produce dairy and eggs, although, for bees, nature actually endorses the production.
So, I’m not going to tell you what to do. I think I’ve swayed myself with this article, but I’m choosing to keep my personal opinion about honey out of the public eye. The great vegan honey debate may continue to rage on, but, if nothing else, I hope that I’ve helped you decide for yourself on which side you stand.