Vegan Mamas -- Honey?? - Mothering Forums
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#1 of 14 Old 03-23-2013, 05:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I'm having a hard time kicking honey to the curb. It is my go to sweetener. I eat cleanly the way I do for mostly health reasons but ethics play a big part as well. I bought local honey today and I feel more then a little bit bad about it. I can't bring myself to research into if that farm inseminates their queens and kills them after one go or not. Chances are probably not, but STILL I should know so I can make an informed decision. I just want to eat honey and not think of bee raping and killing. Jeez. I haven't looked back after kicking meat and dairy out the door, but HONEY is a whole other situation. Anyone else? 


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#2 of 14 Old 03-24-2013, 06:23 PM
 
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Yes. I am the same way. I am vegan in every other possible way, but I love honey and the whole health food idea about it. I feel like its so much better for you than refined sugars and other sweeteners! I like to buy honey raw to get the most nutritional benefit out of it and use it sparingly (I don't use a ton--after all it's not cheap!) on toast, in my tea, including in home remedies for colds & such.

I've honestly tried researching why honey is bad, but wasn't really able to find much to convince me. I know most vegans avoid honey simply because its an "animal" product, but that isnt my reason for being vegan. I chose vegan for health & environmental reasons. Of course I love animals, and dont believe in abuse either. I realize honey bees are dying off, but don't really see that the connection is from the production of honey. In fact, what I read is that it's the cause of chemicals being sprayed on the plants that the conventional bee keeper's bees are pollinating. Conventional bee keepers harvest all their bees honey and replace it with sugar water or corn syrup or something cheap for the bees to eat, which isn't at all heathy for them, then kill their queen bee every couple years or so just to keep the bees on their toes or whatever. But I feel I avoid supporting all this by only buying the honey produced by humane organic bee keepers since they don't have any of those issues with their bees, and they don't steal all their honey supply either, or kill the queen, etc.

Maybe that makes me a non-vegan in some people's eyes, but titles don't concern me anyway. I eat how I feel is right for myself and my family. If I find out something else compelling about why we shouldn't eat honey, I may reconsider since I have an open mind. For now, that's what I believe. I don't claim to be an expert or anything, and would be interested to see what others say about this topic too since I've thought about it often.

If you are feeling guilty, maybe that means you really should push past your fear, dig into the issue more and figure out how to be at peace with your food choices. smile.gif
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#3 of 14 Old 03-24-2013, 09:25 PM
 
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i am not a 100% vegan/vegetarian due to lack of choice reasons. i am one for a mixture of various reasons. 

 

for me what works is priority. when you become picky about what you eat and why - it becomes really hard socially.

 

so here is my thinking. i am not trying to completely clean up my diet. a little junk is ok for me. so thus i'd rather choose sugar over honey - just coz the rest of my diet is so good. i mean i used to be that way till i became pre diabetic and now eat sugar maybe once a week - if that. 

 

one thing i am really trying hard to do - is remove all this guilt i have built around food. i am so sick and tired of this. i mean i no one but myself to blame - but at times it becomes too much. 

 

so really over time elimination has been my best option. i get friends and family to support me for 3 weeks - and i notice it really takes the edge of wanting. then i go to them when i fall and they help me up again. 


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#4 of 14 Old 04-04-2013, 12:07 PM
 
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I don't use any meat, milk, or eggs as food, but I sometimes eat bug-derived stuff like honey, beeswax, and confectioner's glaze (which is made from the secretions of the shellac beetle). I understand that this makes me not really a vegan, I sometimes use the term to refer to myself in certain environments for the sake of convenience, but I really don't consider myself a true vegan because of this and my wool addiction. Honestly, the foods have been easy compared to the textiles for me.
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#5 of 14 Old 04-15-2013, 03:49 PM
 
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I'm another vegan that is making the exception with local raw honey and don't feel bad about it, to be honest.wink1.gif To me it's not the same as it is with the dairy & meat industry and consuming honey actually has more benefits for me personally.

 

I've had people tell me that under those conditions I wouldn't be able to call myself being a true vegan... I guess in the end I just call myself a plant eater! winky.gif


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#6 of 14 Old 04-15-2013, 07:45 PM
 
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I think that consuming local and organic honey instead of sugar is great.  Especially if you research the beekeeper.  I recently learned (from a permaculture conference) that the bees which are suffering and dying out are the conventional bees (who are fed corn syrup or sugar water in the winter and who are shipped around to pollinate trees treated with heavy pesticide loads.)  The small honey farmers who avoid exposing the bees to pesticides and leave part of the honey for the bees to eat in the winter have bees who are doing just fine.  To me, it seems like a good idea to support the second type of honey farming because the world desperately needs its pollenators. 

 

Also, the farming of sugarcane is very distant from most of us, thus producing a much larger carbon footprint.  Also, unless you buy a certain kind of sugar (which is prohibitively expensive), the farmers and workers recieve an unfairly small cut of the profits.   

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#7 of 14 Old 04-23-2013, 01:56 PM
 
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My husband is a beekeeper.  We have 4 hives and we love honey!  If we didn't keep bees in the northern U.S. then many crops vegans depend on would not be pollinated. The bees overproduce honey and so by taking some, we are not harming them and we do not have a problem with providing them a home.  Otherwise they would die out in winter.  There are virtually no wild honey bees in northern america, except for those swarms thrown by hives tended by beekeepers.  Those swarms rarely live in colder climates for long without assistance.  We help them, they help us...

We are vegan and love honey.  I don't like labels, but we avoid animal protein like the plague and the easiest way to describe that to folks is to use the term vegan. 


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#8 of 14 Old 04-26-2013, 05:54 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by dovey View Post

I recently learned (from a permaculture conference) that the bees which are suffering and dying out are the conventional bees (who are fed corn syrup or sugar water in the winter and who are shipped around to pollinate trees treated with heavy pesticide loads.)  The small honey farmers who avoid exposing the bees to pesticides and leave part of the honey for the bees to eat in the winter have bees who are doing just fine.

 

That isn't true, actually. My parents have been hobbyist beekeepers for 20 years and know many other hobbyist beekeepers in their area, and all of them have suffered at least to some extent from Colony Collapse Disorder. And yes, this is without stressing the bees. The problem with pesticides is that bees travel a long way, and there's essentially no way that you can avoid exposure for your bees. To be blunt, I think the speaker at the permaculture conference may have been confusing winter die-offs due to stress (which you don't typically get if you're leaving the honey, properly winterizing the hive, and not subjecting the bees to unneccessary stress) with CCD. The defining symptom of CCD is that the worker bees disappear from the hive over a short period of time, and it can happen during any time of the year; in contrast, in a die-off the bees are still in the hive, they're just dead. Some of the same stresses which cause CCD may also cause winter die-offs, but they're not the same thing.

 

FWIW, my parents have never "replaced" a queen or artificially inseminated one. I don't know too many side-business beekeepers who have. Some people do it and swear by it, but I generally find they're the same folks who don't properly overwinter their hives, take too much honey, and are in general more interested in "managing" the colony rather than stewarding it. I'm ex-vegan, but never felt the need to cut out honey that was locally sourced. I agree with dovey that there are more ethical implications from buying cane sugar than from using local honey. With that having been said, I wouldn't suggest buying store-bought honey, since there is virtually no regulation of "honey" sold in grocery stores and many of those products are little more than flavored corn syrup.

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#9 of 14 Old 04-26-2013, 11:46 PM
 
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What an interesting thread.

 

I am not vegan. I've been vegetarian since 1984. The only dairy we do is mozzarella for pizza and parmesan for topping. I'd like to eliminate those from our diet, but my son and husband would balk and since it's in the house I eat it. Eggs we get from our own hens. I do have a problem with the fact that the male chicks are all killed. I rationalize to myself that I usually get no more than 4 new hens a year so that means 4 male chicks a year die for our food. If we lived in a hunter-gatherer tribe a lot more animals would die for us. But that's just rationalization.

 

I have two sources for local raw honey. One is REALLY cheap. Having read this thread I'd like to research how the two companies manage their hives. 

 

My daughter is allergic to cane sugar so the use of honey is more than academic for us. I also think the idea of the carbon blueprint for transporting sugar should be considered. And the fact that most beet sugar is GMO.

 

Thanks for all the info. It's all good food for thought.


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#10 of 14 Old 04-29-2013, 08:15 AM
 
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That's very sad about the bee die-off even in properly stewarded hives.  I was feeling so relieved when I heard it was only a problem with commercial bees....That's important to know. 

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#11 of 14 Old 04-29-2013, 09:21 AM
 
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I've been thinking about this thread a lot. As I previously stated my daughter is allergic to cane sugar so this is more than an academic question for us. My sense is that agave syrup is not healthy. Most other sweeteners alter the taste of the food. Xylitol kills gut bacteria.

 

So that leaves honey. I have easy access to two local producers. I wouldn't be surprised if they use sugar for winter feeding. I'm a bit afraid to ask because then I would know. One of them is much cheaper so I wonder if they do use sugar for winter feeding. However, our budget is so tight I am especially afraid to ask them. Buying it in the store is not a better alternative as you have no way of knowing how those bees are treated.

 

I'm really in a quandary here. I want to do the right thing, but i don't know what I would do if I found out the wrong answers.


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#12 of 14 Old 04-29-2013, 11:22 AM
 
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My parents have a small hobby type bee farm, so i grew up around bees and honey. I never quite understood why some vegans exclude honey as it is naturally created and as long as not too much of the honey is harvested and the hives are properly insulated, there is minimal winter die off. Even in rural upstate ny where it can hit -30 easily. I still prefer baking and cooking with honey. As long as you get local honey from a reputable beekeeper i don't see why you would need to be worried about negative impact on bees. As an alternative though, i find light agave nectar to mimic honeys taste and consistency quite well. Dark agave has more of a maple syrup flavor, which is another alternative sweetener.
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#13 of 14 Old 04-29-2013, 11:25 AM
 
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Also... we never fed bees sugar in winter-must be a commerical thing. I would check with the beekeepers. (At one point we had over 200 hives, so i have a bit of experience with selling honey)
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#14 of 14 Old 05-12-2013, 09:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just a follow up -- I haven't bought honey since I started this thread. In fact, I ended up giving it away to a friend back in March. I'm not down with feeling bad about what I eat. Honey didn't sit well with me. I am not comfortable consuming or buying anything animal related and my old desire for honey sweetness was making me feel crappy. I didn't replace it with another sweetener. I don't miss it. 


There are three things I learned about life. It goes on. -Longfellow

 

stillheart.gifRIP DH DJ Delicious but mucho gracias for our children and all I have learnedstillheart.gif

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