02 August 2011

TDIV Q&A: I like to use honey as a sweetener, is honey vegan?

Q&A: I like to use honey as a sweetener, is honey vegan?

This is a very common question that stems from the argument that if you aren’t killing an animal for the product you are using, then it isn’t harming the animal and therefore is alright to consume. In a perfect world where animals and people lived in peace alongside each other and in equal numbers and had a mutual trade agreement, that might be a reasonable argument. Sadly we don’t live in a world like that.

There are two reasons that vegans don’t use honey. The first is that honey is the food for bee larvae. In other words, when we eat honey, we are taking their children’s food. Second, is that most bees that produce commercially available honey are what is termed “corporate bees.”

These bees do nothing but produce honey for human consumption. They live in habitats that are not natural to them and their environments are continuously manipulated to produce the highest yield. In effect, corporate bees are acting as sweetener-producing slaves.

But there are many other sweeteners that aren’t sugar but ARE vegan. Agave syrup is made from the agave plant, the same used to make tequila. It comes is many varieties and is not overly sweet. Maple syrup is a good option if you want something sweeter. However, global warning is moving the maple syrup producing treeline further north and making it harder to come by, so it is getting very expensive to buy. Brown rice syrup is an amazing sweetener that is sweet and flavorful but doesn’t have that cloying sugary aftertaste that sugar often does. And date sugar is made from dried and cut dates. It is a little difficult to work with if you are using it in baked goods but it is doable with practice. Hope that helps.

Raven Whitman | @veganculinary
Raven became vegetarian in her teens and switched to veganism in her mid-twenties, because she couldn't reconcile the idea that the charming, intelligent animals in her life were no different than the animals on the plate. Raven owns the Vegan Culinary Institute and hopes that someday vegans will rise up and take over the world.

Photo credit:cc:flickr.com/photos/joliebean