The Age Old Question: Is Honey Vegan?
By Alyse Smith, Atlanta Vegan Examiner, 7/17/2009
The true, clear cut answer, in my book, is no. A vegan, defined by numerous websites, health books and people is considered a person who does not eat ANY thing that has any type of animal or animal by-product in it; vegans do not believe in eating anything that has caused an animal pain and suffering.
So why is honey such an age old debate? Many vegans who eat honey say things like "the bees aren't killed or harmed in any way when they extract and make the honey." This statement is the furthest from the truth. Bees have a central nervous system, just like humans and other animals, which allows them to feel pain. According to Friends of Animals' website,
"At peak honey-production time in 2003, an estimated 155 billion bees, from 2.59 million colonies, were exploited in the U.S. to produce honey for human consumption. Honey, beeswax, bee pollen, royal jelly, propolis and venom are taken from bees for human uses. In the process of acquiring these, beekeepers regularly disturb the bees’ homes by removing the honeycombs from the hive. When this is done some bees will inevitable be injured or crushed, and any bees who sting the beekeepers will also die."
When any animal dies, it experiences pain. Saying that honey is vegan is saying that milk is vegan; it's about the same wrong idea. Some websites, such as vegan.org say it is up to the individual. That is true, but if you are going to be a vegan, wouldn't you want to give up everything and not just a few items?
Vegan.org's website answers the question by saying:
"Again, it depends on one's definition of vegan. Insects are animals, and so insect products, such as honey and silk, are not traditionally considered vegan. Many vegans, however, are not opposed to using insect products, because they do not believe insects are conscious of pain. Moreover, even if insects were conscious of pain, it's not clear that the production of honey involves any more pain for insects than the production of most vegetables, since the harvesting and transportation of all vegetables involves many 'collateral' insect deaths."…