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October 6, 2018/Honey

If you have been practicing veganism for a while now, you have probably heard, read or been involved in arguments and discussions regarding if honey is a vegan “approved” product or not. It is probably the product with the most disagreement among vegans. We posit in this article that what determines honey’s vegan status, is its method of preparation and collection.

The Vegan Society defines veganism as:

Veganism is a way of living which seeks to exclude, as far as is possible and practicable, all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose

Per that definition, the ultimate purpose of veganism is to prevent the following to animals:
1. Exploitation
2. Cruelty

Exploitation is typically the sticky point (pun intended) when it comes to honey. Typical honey harvesting methods involve robbing hives of a large volume of the honey and then supplementing the bees through the winter with sugar water. In nature, the bees live off the honey through the winter and hives typically make three to four times their winter long requirement. This is where responsible harvesting comes in. Some commercial farms will take every bit of honey they can, to the limit of stressing the hive. At Willowsted Honey we are conscious of the volume we can harvest. We never take more than the hive needs to survive through the winter. Additionally, wax is expelled as hive trash at the end of each season, so it would be wasted without harvesting. We feel that harvesting responsibly avoids exploiting and stressing the bees.

The second ultimate purpose of veganism is avoiding cruelty to animals. The beekeepers I know are very cognizant of the safety and comfort of there bees. This is very true at Willowsted honey. We avoid anything that could stress our bees, including smoking them during hive inspections and harvesting. Our bees are so happy and acclimated, they actually know us and they don’t mind us hanging out around their homes. We take every precaution possible while interacting with our bees, their safety and comfort is our top priority.

As we have outlined above, if we can be apiarist (beekeepers) while avoiding exploitation and cruelty, we can create delicious, vegan, raw honey. Visit our shop for what we think is the best vegan honey around.

If you disagree and feel that any removal of honey from hives counters vegan principles, try some of the “honey” replacements below that receive high marks from our vegan friends.

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