Is honey vegan? All you need to know
If you want to eliminate all animal products from your life, you have probably started by removing meat and fish, among other foods, from your diet. The problem is that there are many other items that, without realizing it, you cannot eat either, since they have been made by means of animal mistreatment.
Of all of them, one of the main doubts is whether honey is vegan and, therefore, you can include it in your vegan recipes; that’s why we’re going to show you everything you need to know about this supplement.
- 1 Do vegans take honey?
- 2 Reasons why vegans do not eat honey
- 3 Products obtained from beekeeping
- 4 Is there such a thing as vegan honey?
- 5 Honey substitutes
Do vegans take honey?
Veganism is a way of life that excludes products that have been made by exploiting and abusing animals; in this way, vegans promote non-animal alternatives that are also very beneficial to society and the environment.
Honey is derived from bees and these insects are exploited for their production. Beekeepers use smoke and gas to manipulate the bee colonies. Queen bees are killed and replaced, which causes a lot of stress on the colony; therefore, vegans do not drink honey.
To give you an idea, the production of 4ml of honey takes the work of about 10 to 12 bees. To do this work, the bee collects nectar from flowers and processes it with its digestive enzymes; when it arrives at the hive, it starts a regurgitation procedure of the nectar, making it be transferred by its partners who will do the same work until the honey is in optimal state, where they store it in a wax cell.
At that moment the liquid is not consistent enough, so the bees go on beating their wings with force to eliminate the excess of water, giving this way the consistency that characterizes the honey. Finally, the bees seal the cell with wax produced by their abdominal gland, making the honey protected and ready for consumption.
Process of forced production of the honey
As we have mentioned, to naturally produce one spoonful of honey, 4ml, it takes the lifetime work of about 10 or 12 bees. The problem is that this is not profitable for the beekeeper, so different methods are often used to produce all the honey you can buy in the supermarket.
The first thing that is usually done is to cut off the wings of the queen bee and artificially inseminate her, so that more eggs are produced and, in the long run, more bees will produce the honey.
After a few years, the queen bee is killed and replaced, since its production capacity is lower. In any case, the time when bees usually eat more honey is in autumn, as they begin to prepare for winter.
Reasons why vegans do not eat honey
There are many reasons why vegans don’t eat traditional honey; here are some of the main reasons:
- Beekeeping: these insects suffer during transportation; furthermore, since the purchase and sale of bees is done internationally, in some cases they can drown due to overheating or freezing.
- Death by crushing: the handling of the honey panels by beekeepers can lead to many bees dying by crushing, since they do not know how to react when the hives are sprayed with smoke, which is done by the beekeepers to calm them down and prevent them from stinging. Similarly, these insects also suffer amputations when they are separated from their hives, as they are shaken vigorously and expelled with powerful air currents, which can damage their legs or wings.
- Decapitation of the male bees: to obtain the sperm of the male and to be able to fertilize the females what is done is to decapitate them. This process is very painful for the bees, since they have a nervous system.
- They cut the wings of the queen bee and kill it: this action is done to prevent them from growing and leaving the hive; however, beekeepers usually use artificial pheromones to cut their wings and keep them under their control. For the production, what is done is to artificially inseminate the queen bee with sperm from the decapitated males; moreover, every two years the queen bees are killed and replaced, since their egg production capacity starts to decline and the hive is not productive. They kill the queen and leave the hive orphaned for 48 hours, which increases the stress on the others.
- Use of pesticides and antibiotics: these are used to combat pests, although they put the health of beekeepers and bees, as well as the environment, at risk. Today, many professionals are betting on the use of antibiotics, although they are still harmful to insects.
- Death by starvation: honey is the food of bees and beekeepers feed them with artificial products of pollen and white sugar syrup, with a high fructose content; the problem is that this causes their malnutrition and can mean that they die of starvation.
- Stolen honey: they produce the honey for feeding; moreover, by performing this task for long periods of time, the productivity and longevity of the hive decrease.
- Adulterated honey: the high demand for honey means that many beekeepers have mixed honey with syrups, such as rice syrup, to increase the amount of these sweeteners and reduce costs.
Bees have an extensive nervous system, through which pain signals are transmitted. Moreover, they are currently in danger of extinction and are vital for the survival of our species; it is also important to note that it is not necessary to steal their food, since there are alternatives that are just as rich as traditional honey.
Products obtained from beekeeping
Below we show you the main products obtained from beekeeping and those that vegans must get rid of:
- Wax: bees can produce wax through a gland located in their abdomen. What these insects do is chew the secretion and mix it with pollen, to get that color and consistency we know. In addition, it is usually used to make candles, lacquer and lip balms. Even so, there are many vegan alternatives available today, so it’s best to read cosmetic labels before you buy.
- Royal jelly: This is made by the glands that worker bees have in their heads. This product can be found in many dietary supplements, cosmetics and medicines; the problem is that the European Food Safety authority claims that there is no evidence that its consumption is beneficial to health.
- Propolis: these substances are collected from the hive, where they serve to seal holes or as food; like royal jelly, it is used for human food and cosmetics, although its effectiveness is not proven, making it expendables for human health.
Is there such a thing as vegan honey?
As such, there is no such thing as honey for vegans, as it is an animal product. However, there are other alternatives that come from plant sources that can serve as a substitute for honey and serve to sweeten all the dishes you want without resorting to sugar.
Nowadays, there are many honey substitutes that you can use to continue enjoying its taste, without any animal being affected or mistreated. Here are some of the most popular alternatives.
Maple syrup is obtained from the sap of the sugar maple; this natural sweetener is made from sugars and water and has not undergone any refining process, nor does it include chemical additives.
In addition, it is very good for your health because it is very rich in B-complex vitamins and minerals, such as iron, potassium, calcium, zinc and manganese; it also has a high content of antioxidants, ideal for neutralizing free radicals and protecting the body from oxidative damage from cardiovascular disease and cancer.
Therefore, it can be used to prepare many desserts, although it is very rich in sugars and it is important not to abuse this compound. It is advisable not to use it during all your breakfasts and to use it when making a birthday cake, for example.
Agave honey, also called agave nectar, is a sap with a color and consistency similar to honey. This sweetener is obtained from the stalks of the blue agave plant and has the same calories and sugars as honey and regular sugar, which can be a great help for people who want to gain weight and increase triglycerides and blood sugar.
Agave nectar has a moderate glycemic index and the main sugar is fructose, which is converted into glucose in the liver, so it is no healthier than white sugar.
Brown rice syrup
Brown rice syrup is a sweetener whose sugars are maltotriose, maltose and glucose; this syrup is characterized by a less sweet taste than common sugar or honey, in addition, it should be eaten in moderation, since it only provides empty calories and does not give any fundamental nutrient.
Barley malt syrup
It is less sweet than bee honey and is obtained from barley; it is not a refined product and is used to make baked goods, sauces and cereal bars, among other things.
In this case, the main sugar is maltose, glucose and sucrose, although only potassium is the only mineral that is supplied in large quantities. It is important to note that it is not suitable for diabetics because of its high sugar content; moreover, barley contains gluten, so intolerant people cannot consume it.
Sorghum syrup is just as sweet as conventional honey; it also has carbohydrates and a minimal amount of potassium. This syrup is highly recommended for use in all kinds of desserts, such as pancakes, biscuits or cookies, among others.
Therefore, if what you are looking for is a complement that has a similar sweetness to traditional honey, sorghum syrup is the best alternative for your vegan honey.
Vegan Dandelion Honey
This type of vegan honey is made from dandelion flowers and is characterized by its intense flavor and moderate sweetness. For its part, it provides those who consume it with vitamins from the B complex and minerals such as iron, potassium, calcium and magnesium.
Likewise, it is important to point out that dandelion vegan honey has enzymes and antioxidant compounds, so it has great medicinal and nutritional value. For this reason, it is often used to regulate intestinal function, improve skin appearance, strengthen the immune system and promote liver and kidney health.
Apple-based vegan honey
Vegan apple honey is made from organic apples and its nutritional composition is based on apple sugars and water. Normally, this sweetener is mixed with yogurt, smoothies and granola; in addition, it is highly recommended for making all kinds of desserts.
In short, there is a wide variety of vegan honey options to choose from; this way, you can try different alternatives until you find the one that best suits your tastes and, in no case, will you be an accomplice to the suffering of an animal. So, what are you waiting for to make the best recipes with your vegan honey?