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Is Honey Vegan? Important Considerations for Vegans

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Is Honey Vegan? Important Considerations for Vegans

If you’re vegan, you may be wondering if JuneShine fits into your lifestyle. A hotly debated topic among the vegan community is whether or not honey fits into the vegan requirements. We did some digging and found the most important points to consider if you or someone you know is following veganism. 

From what it means to be vegan to why some vegans do or don’t eat honey, along with ethical beekeeping solutions, here are the key facts so you can take the guesswork out of it.

What Is Veganism?

You’ve heard of vegetarians, but what exactly does it mean for someone to be vegan? There are some pretty strict and detailed explanations of veganism, but simply put—it is a lifestyle that avoids all forms of animal cruelty and exploitation, including but not limited to the foods we eat.

This can refer to food, drink, clothing, makeup, cleaning products, and much more. The point is that vegans do not want to participate in any industry contributing to animal harm or exploitation. 

Vegan and vegetarian diets both focus on excluding meat and seafood. However, the vegan diet takes that a step further and excludes foods with animal origins, too. These exclusions include things like eggs, dairy products, and even leather.

Officially founded by Donald Watson in 1944, the definition of vegan continues to evolve every day. One of the biggest misconceptions surrounding veganism is that it is limited to its dietary restrictions.  

Not only do vegans avoid eating animals and animal products, but they also seek products that do not use or harm animals. Some products under the microscope in the vegan community are basic goods like makeup, cleaning products, and clothing. The focus is to steer clear of anything that causes any harm or exploitation to animals.

Reasons Most Vegans Don’t Eat Honey

Some vegans consume honey; others do not. In general, honey is not considered to be a part of a vegan diet, but some vegans will be a little more flexible. 

The central focal point is to avoid consuming any product that harms animals in the process. The decision to eat honey depends entirely on each person’s individual views of how and why honey is made. 

Some vegans eat local, farm-raised eggs because they do not feel that any harm or exploitation was done toward the chickens who produced the eggs. It’s the same thing for honey. Instead of a black and white issue, honey falls more in the category of a gray area. 

The question vegans are left with is whether they think honey does any sort of disservice to bees and the bee population as a whole. That decision ultimately ends up being based on two main points — honey’s effects on bee health and whether or not the beekeeping methods used are ethical.

Bee Health

These buzzing insects are crucial aspects of our ecosystem. Without bees, we really would have nothing. Plants could not be pollinated, and we would be left without food-producing crops. Bees fly around, carefully taking nectar from surrounding flowers and plants and depositing it in their honeycombs. With patience and diligent care around the clock, the sugary deposits are broken down into what eventually becomes honey. 

Bees are the kings and queens of teamwork, as it takes over 500 of them to produce one pound of honey. The queen bee has one main job, laying eggs, but the worker bees are the powerhouses. Inside this mini-ecosystem, their cooperation creates the honey we consume. 

Worker bees are in charge of caring for the young, guarding the hive, fanning the hive, cleaning the hive, and producing waxes hard as the worker bees hustle. They will only create 1/12 of a teaspoon of honey in their entire lifetimes.

The main argument of the vegan community against eating honey is how it affects the health of bees. When bees are used for commercial honey production, they are kept in very close quarters. In their natural elements, bees would have free reign to buzz and fly around at their leisure. Being in such close proximity may harm the bees’ physical and mental wellbeing.

Instead, they are crammed into a much smaller hive than usual. As a result of being so crammed, some ethical activists say this leads to unnecessary deaths. As defenders of their hives, the bees are inadvertently killed when beekeepers enter the hives to collect honey.

An additionally concerning practice is wing clipping. In some commercial honey farms, beekeepers clip the wings from the queen bee. This is done to prevent the queen from flying elsewhere and populating a different colony.

Ethical Beekeeping Solutions

Some honey operations are only in business for the money. However, there is also an extremely strong community of bee activists. These people disagree with commercial beekeeping practices and have taken a stand again using any harmful methods. At JuneShine, we love and buy from Bee Seasonal, who focus on providing ethically produced honey.

The European Union has taken a stand-in setting the standard for humane beekeeping practices, and many other countries are following their lead. These rules address the placement and management of bees and their hives. 

For example, these practices mandate that beekeepers leave enough of the honey produced for the bees to feed off until the next season. They are also banned from using any methods that may cause the bees malnutrition or pain. 

There are also essential restrictions regarding chemicals. Beekeepers cannot use any harmful glues or plastics in constructing the hive, nor can they apply any synthetic pesticides. 

Final Takeaways

Vegan or not, it depends on an individual’s personal beliefs and definition of veganism when deciding whether or not they will consume honey. There are some clear differences between commercial farms in it for the money and those with the bees’ best interest at heart. 

It’s all about deciding your definition of exploiting animals and whether you think bees are exploited for honey.

With green tea and honey as our main staples in JuneShine kombucha, we are intentional about who we buy our products from. Since we’re serious about taking care of the environment, our honey comes from one of the most sustainable and regenerative producers, so bees are never harmed by our products.

Since all JuneShine flavors contain organic, responsibly sourced honey, they’re all great options, in our opinion. If you can’t choose just one flavor to sip, check them all out with one of our sampler packs.


Definition of veganism | The Vegan Society

Why vegans can't decide whether they're allowed to eat honey | Slate

Organic Beekeeping - More Than Just a Certification | Bee Seasonal