Veganism is a way of life that tries to prevent animal abuse and cruelty. Vegans, therefore, avoid consuming animal products such as eggs, dairy, and meat, as well as products made from them.
Many people, though, wonder if this applies to food produced from insects, such as honey.
And that is why we are targeting the debate, today, is honey vegan or not? But before we jump right to the million-dollar question, let us start with the basics:
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How Is Honey Made?
Honey bees travel from their hives to retrieve pollen, propolis—a resinous substance obtained from sap flows, tree buds, and other botanical sources to seal the undesirable open spaces in their hives—and nectar. It's actually the nectar that is used in honey production.Honey bees collect nectar from the flowers using their long tube-shaped tongue and store it in their "honey stomach" or crop.
Bees have two stomachs, a crop or a honey stomach, and a stomach for food. When the crop is full, it weighs just as much as the honey bee does.
On their flight back to their hives, bees naturally produce enzymes that modify the chemical composition, and pH, of the nectar and make it appropriate for long-term storage. As soon as the forager honeybees return to their hive, they regurgitate the contents of the honey stomach and transfer it on to the house bee. This process is called trophallaxis,
The house bee then processes the nectar internally by chewing it and adding more enzymes to it to convert the complex sugars in the nectar into simple sugars. Then the bees store the nectar in their cells that are made from beeswax.
The honeybees then dehumidify the nectar by fanning it with their wings. Once the moisture is removed from them, they seal the cell by using a plug of wax. So, if you want to know how does honey work, then you have our answer.
Why Do People Become Vegan?
Veganism is not just a choice, it is an ideology. People go vegan and choose vegan diets for a number of reasons. Many people abstain from animal-based products because they consider factory farming barbaric and inhumane. Others claim that animal farming is damaging the climate. And some actually see veganism as a balanced diet—one ideally low in cholesterol, calories, and fat, and high in vitamins and fibre.
In short, why do people become vegan? On what grounds? Well, some go vegan on moral grounds, some prefer environmental values, and some simply like to take care of their health.
Why Don't Vegans Eat Honey?
Bees don't produce honey for us, they produce honey for their hives. To take it away from them even though they have no means of consenting to produce honey for us is ethically and morally incorrect, and does not adhere to the vegan lifestyle.
“Veganism excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose”. For more information, read here.
Commercial beehives designed to allow people to collect honey from bees are not organic; they are engineered. The queen bee is forced to stay in the hive, and her worker bees do not abandon her. When humans want to take their honey, they are violently subdued and deliberately confounded, until the honey they produced for themselves is stripped from them and sold at a profit.
This method of exploitation of honey bees does not sit well with the idea of veganism, and this is why vegans do not consume honey or its products. This is also the answer to the question that why is honey not vegan. Because the exploitation of bees is considered cruelty, and veganism and animal cruelty do not go together.
So, if you want to know can vegans eat honey, then that depends on your view on beekeeping. Some people believe that beekeeping is natural and does not harm bees while some believe that it involves animal cruelty to honey and is off-limits.
Is Honey Bad for You?
Despite all the health benefits that honey has, it can be detrimental to health as well. It packs 64 calories in one tablespoon and is high in sugar as well. While 64 calories might not seem like a lot but a few servings every day can cause a spike in the calories.
Too many calories can cause weight gain and can cause blood sugar levels to rise and crash. This can result in potential long-term weight gain and increased hunger.
High sugar diets can cause insulin resistance, obesity, inflammation, heart disease, and liver issues. View.
Therefore, the safest way to reap the possible benefits associated with honey is to go for a high-quality product and use it to substitute harmful sweeteners such as refined sugar or high-fructose corn syrup.
Vegan Alternatives for Honey
We have rounded up a honey substitute list for you. Although these healthy vegan honey substitutes vary in texture and taste, they can usually be used in cooking and baking, as toppings for pancakes, french toast, cereal and everything else that fits your palate:
Maple syrup is made from the sap of red maple tree, or black maple or sugar maple trees. Bear in mind that there are some companies that use animal-derived defoaming agents or animal fat in the production of their maple syrup.
Maple syrup boasts up to 24 antioxidants and various minerals and vitamins. View.
Read More: Maple Syrup - Does It Ever Go Bad?
Brown Rice Syrup
Brown rice syrup is commonly known among people as malt or rice syrup. It is produced by adding enzymes to brown rice that lets them break down the starch content in the brown rice. This produces a thick, dark-coloured syrup called brown rice syrup.
Bee Free Honee
Bee free honee is a vegan-friendly branded sweetener and a plant-based honey substitute which is manufactured using apple juice, fresh lemon juice, and cane sugar. It feels and looks like honey.
Barley Malt Syrup
Barley malt syrup is a sweetener made of sprouted or germinated barley. It tastes similar to blackstrap molasses and has a warm golden colour.
Date syrup is a caramel-coloured sweetener produced by cooking dates and then extracting the liquid portion of cooked dates. It is a honey substitute which you can even make at home by boiling dates and then blending them with water.
Agave nectar is a syrup that is extracted from the agave plant. It is mainly extracted in South Africa and Mexico. As far as honey nutrition and agave are concerned, both contain 64 calories in one tablespoon.
Coconut nectar is a rich syrup with a beautiful texture. It is extracted by tapping the sap of coconut palms’ blossom’s stems.
So, Is Honey Vegan or Not?
While there has been significant controversy whether honey can be categorised as vegan or not, most vegans are strongly on one side of the debate: honey is not vegan. The main explanation for this opinion is very clear. It is difficult to extract honey from honey bees without controlling and manipulating them in some way.
So, if you are sure that honey is not vegan and you do not want to consume it, then you can opt for vegan honey substitutes.