A lot of people can understand why vegans don’t eat eggs, cheese and milk, but when I mention I won’t eat something that contains honey, I’m often meant with puzzled faces and the question “Why?”.
However, me and my 5 year old son were recently learning about bees as part of his science school work, and he instantly understood why I choose not to eat honey. In the words of a kindergartener: “Honey is bee’s vomit!”
To make honey, bees suck nectar from flowers, and it gets stored in their honey stomach until they return to the hive, where they regurgitate it. As they regurgitate the nectar, they pass it around in their mouths to suck as much moisture out of it as possible. I don’t know about you, but I don’t particularly want to eat anything that has been regurgitated!
Something which I learned when we were reading about bees was that each bee makes only 1 teaspoon of honey in their short lives – they work pretty much non-stop for only a few weeks before they die (however the queen bee lays about 3000 new eggs each day, so there are always tens of thousands of bees belonging to a hive at any time). But as a lover of animals and hater of animal exploitation, I was disgusted by the fact that a bee works her little buzzy butt off for her whole short life just so someone can have enough honey for one piece of toast!
Surely bees were destined to be more than slaves for human food production? The honey that bees make is actually intended for bee consumption – the bees will eat the honey during winter when they are few or no flowers in bloom.
Luckily for those of us who choose not to consume honey, there are alternatives we can use in recipes which call for honey.
Vegan honey substitutes can include:
- maple syrup
- golden syrup
- agave syrup
- date paste
To make date paste, just blend some pitted Medjool dates with an equal amount of water until smooth.
When substituting honey in recipes, simply replace with an equal amount of one of the above substitutes.