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Honey

Eating honey is not vegan.

Discuss.

I know this has been talked about many a time on VW, but I would like to be involved in the discussion. If you aren't interested in debating if/why/etc. eating honey is not/is vegan, then don't post!

Eh, best I can think of.  I bet there's a better example yet.

But honey-eaters: what do you all think of silk? 

There are countless interesting insect debates. In Seattle I was in a Jewelry shop at Pikes Market and they were selling beautiful butterfly wings that were found by natives in some rain forest somewhere. The butterflies were collected after they died naturally, and then their wings were covered with glass and made into a necklace. It was a non-profit and money went back to preserving the natural habitate of the butterflies that were still alive, as well as to the local villages, and rain forest conservation groups. As a vegan, would you feel it OK to buy this product as a gift for someone?

I wouldn't buy it.  Is it the most terrible thing in the world?  No.  But I wouldn't feel comfortable using an animal as jewelry.  I might even just give them money for their mission directly, if the occasion arose.  I can still stay true to veganism and support a good cause at the same time.  Interesting question, PK!  You're making us all think.  :)

KAC (KMK/AC). I forgot that I was going to comment on this...so there's ^ my comment too.

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Eh, best I can think of.  I bet there's a better example yet.

But honey-eaters: what do you all think of silk? 

There are countless interesting insect debates. In Seattle I was in a Jewelry shop at Pikes Market and they were selling beautiful butterfly wings that were found by natives in some rain forest somewhere. The butterflies were collected after they died naturally, and then their wings were covered with glass and made into a necklace. It was a non-profit and money went back to preserving the natural habitate of the butterflies that were still alive, as well as to the local villages, and rain forest conservation groups. As a vegan, would you feel it OK to buy this product as a gift for someone?

I wouldn't buy it.  Is it the most terrible thing in the world?  No.  But I wouldn't feel comfortable using an animal as jewelry.  I might even just give them money for their mission directly, if the occasion arose.  I can still stay true to veganism and support a good cause at the same time.  Interesting question, PK!  You're making us all think.  :)

In my mind, if the market becomes good, they're going to catch alive or dead butterflies for the wings.  The non-profit likely doesn't go out and gather the butterfiles, they pay people for butterflies.  Those people, trying to earn a buck, are very likely to get whatever butterflies they can, alive or dead, and tell whoever is paying them whatever they want to hear.

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Good point, HH!  I didn't even think of that.

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Eh, best I can think of.  I bet there's a better example yet.

But honey-eaters: what do you all think of silk? 

There are countless interesting insect debates. In Seattle I was in a Jewelry shop at Pikes Market and they were selling beautiful butterfly wings that were found by natives in some rain forest somewhere. The butterflies were collected after they died naturally, and then their wings were covered with glass and made into a necklace. It was a non-profit and money went back to preserving the natural habitate of the butterflies that were still alive, as well as to the local villages, and rain forest conservation groups. As a vegan, would you feel it OK to buy this product as a gift for someone?

I wouldn't buy it.  Is it the most terrible thing in the world?  No.  But I wouldn't feel comfortable using an animal as jewelry.  I might even just give them money for their mission directly, if the occasion arose.  I can still stay true to veganism and support a good cause at the same time.  Interesting question, PK!  You're making us all think.  :)

In my mind, if the market becomes good, they're going to catch alive or dead butterflies for the wings.  The non-profit likely doesn't go out and gather the butterfiles, they pay people for butterflies.  Those people, trying to earn a buck, are very likely to get whatever butterflies they can, alive or dead, and tell whoever is paying them whatever they want to hear.

That was my first thought, too, regarding who keeps tabs on where the wings really come from. 

I don't think eating honey is vegan.  My understanding of being vegan is not consuming animal products.  Bees are animals to me.  Although this is not an insect comparison, for example, if I had a neighbor with a couple of sheep that would not be killed, were well taken care of, and sheared in the hot weather (carefully and without harm at all to the sheep) I would not wear their wool, even if I weren't allergic to wool.  It would still be using an animal product.

Just the other day, I ran into someone at Whole Foods I didn't know and we got into a vegan discussion (as in chatting, not a debate) and this topic came up.  She eats it, I said I don't think eating honey is vegan but I didn't accuse her or argue or anything like that.  I did mention, though, that in the last few months I noticed that the Whole Foods deli section no longer seems to label their deli products vegan if they have honey in them, which they had been doing just a couple of months ago.  They now seem to call them vegetarian instead.

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Bees are animals to me. 

And not just to you!  To the whole scientific community.  :)
Insects = animal kingdom!

That's good that Whole Foods stopped labeling honey things as vegan.  I'd be miffed if I found out something labeled "vegan" had honey in it.

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Yeah, our local Indian restaurant has a lunch buffet. They have a board with the buffet items, and star the items that are NOT vegan. I noticed one day that they starred an item with honey, and thought, yay! 

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Okay, if the insects are the animal kingdom and being vegan is not consuming animal products, I don't understand why eating honey would be considrered vegan.  It doesn't make sense. 

Regarding Whole Foods, it was the first time I'd ever seen a vegetarian/vegan deli in my life and it was exciting to see several tasty-looking foods labeled vegan but now the vegan labels have dwindled due to more proper labeling but I'm glad they are doing that. I haven't looked that closely at everything because I don't buy the vegetarian foods but I know there is one yummy-looking item in particular that they used to label vegan that had honey in it that is no longer labeled vegan. 

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Yeah, when I was on a cruise once, they had baklava as the vegan dessert.  So I ordered that.  Honey!  Duh!  Not vegan!  I was disappointed.

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See, and the more we communicate to others that honey is not vegan, the more educated people become about it and the less we have to encounter unexpected honey mishaps like those.  If people keep on thinking honey is an optional vegan thing, the confusion will persist.  Not fun.

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What miffs me the most, and I think one of the main reasons why this debate started, is when people imply to others that honey is an exception to vegan principles.  It is not.  Like, many of us would be mad if someone, as a representative of veganism (which we all are, like it or not, by being the only vegans among omni's most of the time), said, "Well, I'm vegan, but milk is one of those things I, personally, am not concerned about."  Right?  That's lacto-veg, not vegan.  I don't see why honey should be any different.

Maybe it's different because there is a widely accepted term for those who consume dairy--lacto-vegetarian--while there isn't a widely accepted term for those who eat honey (although mdv mentioned apian-vegan?  I've never heard this term before and the "apian" prefix is not well-known (whereas lacto and ovo are more common).  Similar to pescetarians--many of these people call themselves vegetarians who eat fish, perhaps because the prefix "pesce" also isn't well known.  I dunno...just a thought.

See, and the more we communicate to others that honey is not vegan, the more educated people become about it and the less we have to encounter unexpected honey mishaps like those.  If people keep on thinking honey is an optional vegan thing, the confusion will persist.  Not fun.

And I totally agree that things that contain honey should not be labeled as vegan.  I'm all for complete disclosure of ingredients  ;)b

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See, and the more we communicate to others that honey is not vegan, the more educated people become about it and the less we have to encounter unexpected honey mishaps like those.  If people keep on thinking honey is an optional vegan thing, the confusion will persist.  Not fun.

And I totally agree that things that contain honey should not be labeled as vegan.  I'm all for complete disclosure of ingredients  ;)b

And part of making sure this becomes accepted practice is messaging to others that honey is not vegan.

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Well, I am not sure I agree that honey is different from other animal products in the way you say, CK.  An egg is essentially the product of a chicken's menstrual cycle.  Eating an egg doesn't create or destroy life.  Chickens make eggs anyway.  Like, if we had a bunch of wild chickens, they'd still be laying eggs, right?  Granted, we must capture all the chickens in one place to collect the eggs, but same goes for honey.

Hens will lay eggs regardless of whether there's anyone there to collect them.

KMK & Double H, I know that hens lay eggs regardless of the situation and that it is a part of their menstrual cycle.  There were two points that I was trying to make with that statement.

A) If the egg had been fertilized, it would have turned into a living thing, unless one eats the fetilized egg (hypothetically speaking).  Therefore, life or a possible life has been destroyed.  Honey has no chance of living ever.  I mean, you can fertilize honey all you want, but...I'll leave that to the imagination. :D

B) Honey is not a part of a life cycle, just food that the bee has essentially eaten and regurgitated numerous times to be used for food and warmth.
Let's say, for the sake of a debate, that you are enjoying some yummy vegan ice cream.  You have a dog who is staring down that ice cream...so, you allow him/her to have a lick of it (I know there are people who do this).  The dog leaves a trail of saliva across the ice cream.  Is it no longer vegan ice cream since there is an animal's fluid on it?  Will you continue eating it?

PK & KMK, I haven't given much thought to the whole eating a spider's web or using silk, but what do you think about using chicken manure to fertilize vegetables and fruit?
What about the bugs that we eat in our sleep or step on or swat at unconsciously?

Also, could someone enlighten me as to how a honeybee gets treated cruelly on a honey farm?  I'm just curious.  It seems to me that of all the things we humans have mass produced by animals, this would be one the of the least cruel things.  Again, I'm not saying that it's right, I just want to know.  The way I have always thought it went was the bees would produce the honey in a manmade hive that has x number of drawers containing x number of honeycombs.  The honeycombs are removed once full and taken to a machine that extracts the honey.  Is that the way it goes?

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Well, I didn't know that an egg was part of a hen's menstral cycle.

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Well, I didn't know that an egg was part of a hen's menstral cycle.

I just checked, it appears that it is technically not a part of a menstrual cycle.  I was just agreeing with KMK that it is like a menstrual cycle.
The nature of my post goes unchanged though.

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Oh.  No wonder I didn't know it, then.  ::)

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Hahaha :-D

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Well, I didn't know that an egg was part of a hen's menstral cycle.

Yes it is!  It's a chicken ovulating in the same way a human does.

So yeah, there is no shedding of the uterine lining like in humans, but it's the same deal.  Getting rid of an unfertilized egg that we don't need anymore.

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Regarding your post, CK:

A) If the egg had been fertilized, it would have turned into a living thing, unless one eats the fetilized egg (hypothetically speaking).  Therefore, life or a possible life has been destroyed.  Honey has no chance of living ever.  I mean, you can fertilize honey all you want, but...I'll leave that to the imagination. :D

I don't understand.  I mean, you're right, honey doesn't have to do with the reproductive cycle.  Agreed.  But are there really camps of people who avoid eggs for the reason that an egg represents a missed opportunity for fertilization?  I mean, every time a woman menstruates, we destroy a possible life, in that sense.  I guess I've just never heard that argument before.  I guess it could be a reason.   ???

B) Honey is not a part of a life cycle, just food that the bee has essentially eaten and regurgitated numerous times to be used for food and warmth.

Exactly.  For food and warmth.  For THEM.  Not for us to eat.

Let's say, for the sake of a debate, that you are enjoying some yummy vegan ice cream.  You have a dog who is staring down that ice cream...so, you allow him/her to have a lick of it (I know there are people who do this).  The dog leaves a trail of saliva across the ice cream.  Is it no longer vegan ice cream since there is an animal's fluid on it?  Will you continue eating it?

I wouldn't keep eating because that's a little too gross for me, but of course eating an ice cream cone with dog slobber on it is OK!  It would become a problem if we started selling dog-saliva ice cream cones or something of the sort.  Or, like, we FORCED a dog to lick ice cream cones all the time.  (Love the analogy, haha :))

PK & KMK, I haven't given much thought to the whole eating a spider's web or using silk, but what do you think about using chicken manure to fertilize vegetables and fruit?
What about the bugs that we eat in our sleep or step on or swat at unconsciously?

As far as manure, we must do our best to seek out produce which is grown by doing the least harm possible.  Yes, it is damn near impossible for most people to obtain "veganically-grown" produce.  We have to choose the best option we can find--organic, local, etc.  Like md said (I think), talk to your local farmers.  Grow your own tomatoes.  Just do your best.

Honey is different because we HAVE honey alternatives.  Organic sugar, maple syrup, agave nectar, molasses, fruit juice--all of these are sweeteners we can use in various applications.  There is no excuse for not being able to avoid honey.

As far as bugs go, I make the best effort possible not to kill bugs.  I bring them outside if I see them or just let them be.  I can't conceive of a way to avoid eating bugs in my sleep or stepping on them or the like.  I can't be perfect.  But can I not eat honey?  Oh yeah.  That I can do. 

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Ok, it seems to me that some people might be put off by the nature of the website I've been posting...so I'll just quote some of my favorite parts. CK, you asked a question about cruelty to bees..so you might want to read more on the site too. http://www.vegetus.org/honey/honey.htm

Definition of veganism
-"The simplest reason why honey isn't vegan is by definition...Any definition of veganism would talk about not exploiting animals, and honeybees (Apis mellifera) Click for a picture of a honeybee. are, without a doubt, animals. Honeybees are in the phylum Arthropoda--the same as lobsters and crabs. So in addition to crustaceans, if honeybees don't merit respect, that would also leave earthworms vulnerable to dissection in biology classes. Similarly, iscallops, snails, and oysters would be fair game--they are not as "high up" on the evolutionary scale as bees."

Bees and intelligence/pain
-" Vegans typically don't judge species based on their intelligence. If it were ok to eat someone because he's dumb, a lot of humans would be in trouble."
-"They are animals with a large nervous system (Snodgrass, 254) capable of transmitting pain signals. And unlike in the case of plants, pain as we know it would be a useful evolutionary feature since bees are capable of moving to avoid it. Which, as far as I'm concerned, is all that matters. Pain must be unpleasant or else it wouldn't work. If common sense isn't good enough, we can always resort to scientific studies (link) that indicate that bees feel pain."

Enslavement of bees
-"The simple fact is that the bees are enslaved. What? Bees slaves? Yes, bees as slaves. Or it's dominionism, exploitation of nature, human superiority, whatever you like to call it. It's the idea that humans are justified in using all other life forms instrumentally, for our own benefit."
-There is a full section with many descriptions of the cruelty toward bees on bee farms on the site.

Health aspects of honey
-" But isn't honey good for you? Even if it were, it is not a reason for vegans to eat it. (How many times have you heard that meat is good for you?"
-"What about allergies? The evidence that eating locally grown honey helps reduce allergies is largely anecdotal. When actual experiments were conducted, they showed a marginal improvement at best (certainly not worthy of doing if allergy shots are used) (Schmidt & Buchmann 938). If you still have severe allergies after becoming vegan there are other alternatives to animal-tested pharmaceuticals to try before resorting to bees (like homeopathy)."

eta: Plus all that KMK just said. I was going to say that.

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Bees and intelligence/pain
If it were ok to eat someone because he's dumb, a lot of humans would be in trouble."

Wait, that's not OK?

*burps*

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