There is no more contentious question in the world of veganism than the one posed by honey.
A fierce doctrinal debate over its status has raged for decades; it turns up on almost every community FAQ and remains so ubiquitous and unresolved that radio host Rachel Maddow proposed to ask celebrity vegan Dennis Kucinich about it during last year's CNN/YouTube presidential debate.
Does honey qualify as a forbidden animal product since it's made by bees? Or is it OK since the bees don't seem too put out by making it?
. . . The hard-liners argue that beekeeping, like dairy farming, is cruel and exploitative.
. . . So, any vegan who eats honey but avoids milk is making the tacit assumption that the pain experienced by a bee counts for something less than the pain experienced by a cow. It's exactly the sort of compromise that so appalled Watson and the early vegans.
. . . The flexitarians counter that if you follow the hard-line argument to its logical extreme, you end up with a diet so restrictive it borders on the absurd. After all, you can't worry over the ethics of honey production without worrying over the entire beekeeping industry.
Honey accounts for only a small percentage of the total honeybee economy in the United States; most comes from the use of rental hives to pollinate fruit and vegetable crops.
According to food journalist Rowan Jacobson, whose book Fruitless Fall comes out this September, commercial bees are used in the production of about 100 foods, including almonds, avocados, broccoli, canola, cherries, cucumbers, lettuce, peaches, pears, plums, sunflowers, and tomatoes.
Even the clover and alfalfa crops we feed to dairy cows are sometimes pollinated by bees.
Tuesday, August 5, 2008
For Vegans, Is Honey Verboten?
An article from Daniel Engber at Slate.com: