Rosh Hashanah is still more than a month away, but after reading Slate’s article on “The Great Vegan Honey Debate,” I’ve got the sweet stuff on the brain.
With so many other natural and delicious alternatives to honey available (maple syrup, agave nectar…), questioning whether or not a vegan should eat honey seems somewhat irrelevant. But author, Daniel Engber, posits that, “There is no more contentious question in the world of veganism than the one posed by honey.”
He says some vegans scoff at the very notion of indulging in a food that is most often produced in a “cruel and exploitative” manner, while others wonder if saying no to honey opens up a larger
can of worms hive of bees. Engber writes:
“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…Life for these rental bees may be far worse than it is for the ones producing honey.“
In other words, if vegans insist on being honey free on grounds of cruelty, must they also give up most of the pollinated fruits and vegetables grown in the world? Practically speaking, the answer has to be no. Even the strictest vegan couldn’t commit to growing all of their own food with their own well-cared for bees. Neither can they stop eating entirely. But the moral relativism in question is fascinating.
It makes me wonder, is there any ethics-based diet that *doesn’t* have a little bit of hypocrisy clouding up its ideals? Compassionate carnivorism has the whole “cows are not carbon friendly” issue, vegetarianism has the dairy = death question (which Engber also brings up), raw foodists tend to rely heavily on non-local fruits and vegetables, and now vegans have to justify their inherent support of the bee industry.
Personally, I’ve always puzzled over how eating a food created by a decidedly non-kosher creature could be considered okay for the Tribe. (Like Rabbi Shmuel, I prefer my Rosh Hashanah apples with maple.) But it seems that for vegans, the question of whether honey is “fit” for consumption holds a far greater sting.
Hey vegan readers (or interested veggies and omnivores) – What is your take on the “Great Honey Debate?”
Back to Baking: Honey Challah
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Date Honey: Sticky & Sweet for the New Year