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Why Do Vegans Not Eat Honey

by Lyndon Langley
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Why Do Vegans Not Eat Honey

Why Do Vegans Not Eat Honey

Honey has been around for thousands of years and in all that time there have been many debates about whether or not people should eat it. Throughout history, honey was considered a food fit only for animals, so even though humans ate it, they didn’t think very highly of themselves for doing so.
The first known civilizations believed that the gods were angered by the act of eating honey, so the practice was discouraged. The ancient Egyptians had elaborate rituals associated with honey-eating, including removing the fleshy covering over the bee’s stinger before drinking the nectar. In China, the consumption of honey was also seen as taboo, and those who did partake in it were thought to be cursed for eternity. Even today, certain cultures discourage the use of honey on religious grounds.
However, despite the fact that honey has been consumed for centuries, most modern societies do consider it to be safe and healthy to consume. It’s high in calories, low in carbohydrates, and can help lower cholesterol levels. And while honey does contain fructose — which may contribute to weight gain — other types of sugars found in honey are beneficial when eaten in moderation. When combined with exercise, honey can help control blood sugar levels, making it an effective tool for diabetics.
Despite its benefits, honey still isn’t universally liked by everyone. Some vegans find it off-putting because it contains sugar, but others don’t like the idea of supporting the killing of insects. If you’re one of those vegans who doesn’t want to eat honey (or any type of animal product), then here are some reasons why you might feel that way.
1) Bees needlessly kill their own kind
It turns out that honey production is pretty harmful to worker bees. According to the United States Department of Agriculture, honeybees spend up to 70 percent of their lives gathering pollen from flowers and converting it into honey. This process requires them to fly several miles away from home, where they gather enough nectar to survive during the winter months. However, since the 1980s, the number of honeybee colonies throughout North America has steadily declined. Why? Because of colony collapse disorder (CCD). What causes CCD is unknown, although scientists believe pesticides and parasites play a role. Regardless, the issue is now so severe that nearly half of U.S. honeybee hives have disappeared since 2006.
As if this problem wasn’t bad enough, honeybees produce honey using the bodies of dead workers. As such, honey is basically made out of the corpses of fellow honeybees.
2) Honey is unhealthy
When we talk about “natural sweeteners,” what we really mean is “honey that hasn’t gone through processing.” Honey comes from a living organism, whereas table sugar is extracted from corn syrup. While honey is typically healthier than refined sugar, it can cause problems for people who already suffer from diabetes and hypoglycemia. Those who are diabetic and/or experience hypoglycemic episodes should avoid consuming honey.
3) Sugar isn’t natural
Many health experts say that no matter how much we try to justify our unhealthy habits with natural labels, we shouldn’t fool ourselves into thinking something is healthy just because it’s organic. For example, while honey is naturally sweet, it’s actually more sugary than regular sugar. That said, honey is better for your teeth than soda, so it’s worth trying to incorporate it into your diet if you can stand the taste.
4) Honey is processed
Just because something is labeled “organic” doesn’t mean that it’s free of chemicals. Organic pesticides are allowed under federal law, but manufacturers aren’t required to disclose these ingredients on labels. Additionally, honey producers must meet strict regulations regarding purity; they’re not allowed to add extra ingredients or preservatives. These requirements ensure that honey is pure and free of contaminants, but they can also make it difficult to find good quality honey.
5) Honey can spoil easily
Because honey is exposed to sunlight, heat, and oxygen, it spoils quickly. Most supermarket honey will last less than two weeks. To extend its shelf life, you’ll need to buy honey directly from a farmer or apiary. Before purchasing honey, check for expiration dates printed on the jar or label. A date after April 1st means that the honey has been sitting on store shelves for far too long.
6) Veganism is based on ethics
Veganism is often criticized for being hypocritical. After all, vegan activists often oppose factory farming yet eat meat themselves, wear leather, and refuse to give money to charities that support slaughterhouses. Although vegans may not personally enjoy honey, they would never eat it due to ethical concerns.
7) Honey is toxic to dogs
In 2015, a woman gave her dog honey instead of his usual meal of raw chicken. He stopped eating soon after — and he died four days later. So, yes, honey kills dogs. Don’t ever feed your pet honey unless you know exactly what you’re doing.
8) Honey is expensive
If you’ve tried going completely vegan for ethical reasons, you know that it’s hard to live off $10 per day. With honey, the price tag is even higher. You can find it at Whole Foods for $9-$12 for a small container, depending on the brand. If you’re willing to pay that much for honey, you probably won’t mind paying more for groceries overall.
9) There are plenty of alternatives
Although bees are necessary for pollination, wild bees don’t always work properly. If you prefer non-farmed honey, you can look for local honey from beekeepers in your area. Local honey tends to be cheaper and sweeter. Raw honey is another option, but it takes longer for the bees to collect the nectar.
10) Honey gets used up quickly
Like anything else, honey goes downhill fast once opened. Since honey is mostly water, it evaporates quickly when left uncovered. Throw open a jar of honey and it could turn sour within hours. That’s why you should keep jars tightly closed in dark places.
11) Honey is addictive
A study published in 2011 showed that rats preferred sugar solutions over pure honey, even when given both at once. Rats kept coming back for seconds, thirds, and fourths until they got nothing but sugar solution. Humans aren’t rats, but research shows that we’re susceptible to the same effects.
12) Honey is full of germs
While honey is sterile in the hive, it becomes contaminated once removed from its protective casing. Once it reaches grocery stores and restaurants, it’s exposed to bacteria and viruses picked up along the way. Honey can become contaminated with mold, E. coli, salmonella, listeria, campylobacter, cryptosporidium, and yeast. Many of these pathogens are harmless, but others can lead to serious illness.
13) Eating honey makes you fat
Eating honey can increase your risk of developing obesity, especially if you drink alcohol at the same time. Studies show that when women drank three alcoholic beverages daily, they gained more body fat than those who drank the same amount of alcohol without added honey. Men who consumed honey daily gained twice as much abdominal fat compared to men who didn’t take honey.
14) Honey is a secret weapon against antibiotic resistant superbugs
Some strains of Candida albicans can resist antifungal drugs called azoles. One recent study showed that adding a compound called methylglyoxal to honey prevented Candidemia infection in mice. Methylglyoxal is also present in wine and beer, meaning that drinking honey may also protect drinkers from fungal infections.
15) Honey has medicinal properties
People have been medicating themselves with honey for thousands of years. Ancient Greeks and Romans used it to treat wounds, burns, skin conditions, and eye infections. Today, honey is popularly used as a topical ointment for treating eczema, psoriasis, acne, and cuts. Honey can even prevent diaper rash and sunburns.

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