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I do not consume dairy, eggs, meat,
gelatin, etc. However, I would not call myself a vegan.
See, I still eat honey. What I would like to know is
what cruelty is being forced upon honeybees. Why do
vegans not consume honey? I made my decision to not
support any industry that exploits animals. In what
way are honeybees being exploited? Couldn't one say
that eating honey is better than eating sugar because
sugarcane workers often suffer from exploitive and abusive
Regardless of how careful we are, it
is impossible to live a totally harm-free life. All
animate sentient beings inflict some form of injury
or death to others simply by their existence. Humans
displace or destroy large and small life forms whenever
we erect buildings, plant seeds, dig crops, burn wood,
fly airplanes, drive cars, operate factories, walk on
grass, or bat our eyes. This is simply an aspect of
The difference between vegans and nonvegans,
however, is the element of intent. Vegans consciously
strive to do no harm to any sentient life, including
insects. This does not mean that vegans do not hurt
others inadvertently, but that it is never their aim
to do so.
Honey is made from sucrose-rich flower
nectar that is collected by honeybees and then regurgitated
back and forth among them until it is partially digested.
After the final regurgitation, the bees fan the substance
with their wings until it is cool and thick. This mixture,
which we call honey (which is essentially bee vomit),
is then stored in the cells of the bees' hive and used
as their sole source of nutrition in cold weather and
other times when alternative food sources are not available.
During the collection of flower nectar, the bees also
pollinate plants. This is part of the natural process
of life and is necessary and unavoidable. Even though
humans inadvertently benefit, the bees do not pollinate
plants in order to serve human needs; it is simply a
secondary aspect of their nectar collecting. The honey
that bees produce is stored in their hives for their
own purposes. When humans remove honey from the hive,
they take something that is not rightfully theirs.
To collect honey, beekeepers must temporarily
remove a number of the bees from their home. During
the course of bee management and honey collection, even
the most careful beekeeper cannot avoid inadvertently
injuring, squashing, or otherwise killing some of the
bees. Other commodities may be taken from the hive as
well, including beeswax, honeycomb, pollen, propolis,
and royal jelly.
Bees are not harmed by the process of
pollination -- it is something they would do whether
or not humans were involved or reaped any profit. If
one were to stretch the point, using honey could, in
a broad sense, be considered analogous to dairying.
Furthermore, there is no reason to take honey from bees
other than to sell it. Utilizing bees to pollinate crops
in no way necessitates ravaging their hive.
Although the issue of honey is not deemed
the most pressing concern of many vegans, honey is nevertheless
considered an animal product. Because there are numerous
alternatives to honey, from a vegan perspective there
is no justifiable rationale for using it. Furthermore,
the vegan position on honey is definitive. Honey was
prohibited for use by vegans according to the 1944 manifesto
of the British Vegan Society (veganism's founding organization),
a position consistent with the requirement for full
(vegan) membership in the American Vegan Society since
its inception in 1960.
Sweeteners are not necessary for human
health. There are virtually no essential nutrients (in
fact, there are hardly any nutrients at all) in sweeteners,
so our use of them is purely for personal pleasure.
Although the labor force is typically exploited on sugar
plantations, even humans with minimal choices have far
more options than the honeybees. Humans can live quite
well without sugar or honey. As a rule, extensive use
of sweeteners is found only in affluent societies. If
vegans want to indulge in sweets, there are many substitutes
available: organic, unbleached cane sugar (somewhat
kinder to the environment, but not necessarily better
for the workers); beet sugar; maple sugar; maple syrup; agave syrup; concentrated fruit syrups; rice syrup; barley malt;
and sorghum syrup, among others. We do not need to choose
between exploiting humans or bees in order to satisfy
our sweet tooth. Concerned vegans can avoid harming
either by eliminating sweets from their diet or by choosing
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