Vegan Challenge Day 5- Guest Post: Vegans and Honey

Can I just ask; What is UP with the flu this year? It seems like everyone I know who's gotten sick has stayed sick for what seems like decades. Sadly I am no exception. Day three of the flu (not to be confused with day five of the Challenge) was very much the same as days one and two: Tired, headache, nauseated and zero appetite. Cue the pity party!

Annnd, the party is over. Moving on to today's eats. The lack of appetite combined with the vegan challenge limited me to recoiling from practically everything in my fridge and cupboards. Enter a good ol' smoothie to the rescue!

I added 1/2 a scoop of protein to this one. I shouldn't have. I am not a fan of protein powder on a good day and today definitely doesn't get classified as a "good" day. I had to choke that sucker down. All in the name of health right.

Along side the smoothie I had some leftover vegan chili. I smothered it on a spinach wrap. I don't know why but I'll blame the medication. I needs a spoon, a fork and a knife to master this one!

It even looks weird. Again, I blame the drugs!

I am really excited to feature a fellow blogger on tonight's post. The idea for this came about in a Twitter discussion that I started around vegans and their views on honey. I got varied responses from "Its cool" to "No, no, NO!" and thought it would be really interesting to keep the conversation going. Rachel was kind enough to agree to a guest post on the topic and the rest is history...

I've done enough talking for one night and my chili mess is a clear indication that its better to leave it to someone much more coherent. Without further adieu:


Why I’m vegan and why honey isn’t

My journey to a vegan lifestyle began when I was 10 years old and declared myself to be a vegetarian. That lasted about a week! Fast forward three years and 13 year old me gave up red meat and pork, leaving me to consume, and consume I did, poultry and seafood. I wish I could say I had some altruistic reason for giving up what I did, but in reality it was because the news was making a big deal about people dying from eating fast food hamburgers and I was scared, E. coli did not seem like fun. I lived this way for five years, happily eating birds and fish without thinking about the animal that my “food” once was. Then, one night after I had gone away to college my younger brother sent me a link to a video. It was PETA’s “Meet Your Meat” video and it changed my life. At that moment I was a vegetarian and while I don’t agree with PETA and their ways now, I do have to credit them and that video for getting me to become a vegetarian. I remained a happy vegetarian through all four years of college.

After graduating college, I got my first “real” job. While I was doing web-based training classes that require a minimum of time, no matter how fast you actually finish it, I started reading a free download of Erik Marcus’ book “Vegan: The New Ethics of Eating.” I was consumed by all of this new information and could not stop reading. That was it, I had to go vegan. It was the only way to live my life in accordance with my values. I looked at my two dogs, my Hamlet and my Bailey, my little canine loves and realized that there was no difference between them and any animal used for food. Veganism just made sense. And again, while my current views on animal rights issues differ greatly from Mr. Marcus’ I still have to give credit where credit is due and his book is what inspired me to go vegan.

Tired of hearing about me yet? Well, I’m tired of talking about myself. On to the real reason Samantha asked me to guest post: Honey. That’s right, that sweet sticky stuff that bees make. It can be a hot topic in the vegan world and I’m here to tell you once and for all WHY HONEY IS NOT VEGAN.

The simplest way to tell you that honey is not vegan is to look at its definition. The word vegan was first introduced in 1944 by Donald Watson:

“Veganism is a way of living which excludes all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, the animal kingdom, and includes a reverence for life. It applies to the practice of living on the products of the plant kingdom to the exclusion of flesh, fish, fowl, eggs, honey, animal milk and its derivatives, and encourages the use of alternatives for all commodities derived wholly or in part from animals.”

There you go, plain and simple, honey is NOT vegan. But, I know people don’t like to make things that simple. Why not? Isn’t life already too complicated?

So, why, other than that pesky definition is honey not vegan?

1. Honeybees, like other animals, have a complex central nervous system, which means they are able to experience pain and suffering

2. Bees create honey for themselves. Beekeepers take this from them and replace it with corn syrup or sugar water, a poor substitute.

3. Queen honeybees have a natural lifespan of five years but most will be killed every one to two years.

4. Bees are smoked out of the hives to retrieve honey and many are killed during this process either by being crushed or when they sting the keepers.

The list really could go on; if you have a sincere interest in the subject I suggest you check out the Vegetus.org page on the subject here. It is a well thought out, well written, and researched explanation of why honey is NOT vegan.

Honey is not something hard to avoid, there are plenty of alternatives to honey including agave nectar, maple syrup, and Just Like Honey. Am I bummed that the otherwise vegan cinnamon rolls at my local bakery contain honey? You bet! Am I going to eat them anyways? Nope! I can live without honey, but the bees work hard to produce it FOR THEMSELVES, and so they should be the ones consuming it.

Also, a note on vegan nomenclature from Vegetus.org that I find particularly important:

If you are thinking to yourself, "But I'm a vegan for health reasons" or "I'm a vegan for environmental reasons," read on. Unlike the word vegetarian, the word vegan specifically implies moral concern for animals, and this concern extends to all areas of life, not just diet. If you do not believe in animal equality, please consider referring to yourself as someone who doesn't eat animal products, as one who follows a plant-based diet, or as one who follows a vegan diet. Or, continue to educate yourself about veganism, and perhaps you will choose to practice veganism. Additionally, anyone who eats honey, yet refers to herself as a vegan, makes life difficult for other vegans--it's like having someone who eats fish and calls herself a vegetarian. When a vegetarian comes along, it is much harder for her to explain that fish is not acceptable for vegetarians.

I have been a happy and healthy vegan for over three years! I truly believe that it is the best life decision I have ever made, not only for me, but for the animals and the planet we all live on! I’d like to thank Samantha for letting me share my story. If anyone has any questions on veganism or would like some advice on transitioning to a vegan lifestyle I can be found on twitter @Rachel_Runs or at my blog http://www.rachel-runs.blogger.com/.

If you’ve gotten this far, congrats and thanks for reading! I hope I wasn’t too boring.



Thank you so much Rachel for sharing your story and your thoughts with us!

So tell me, what are your thoughts on veganism and honey?


  1. You're doing a really good job keeping your spirits high!

  2. I really enjoyed Rachel's post. I "follow a vegan diet" and now I know how to say it best. I've always felt funny saying I'm "vegan" because although I don't eat animal products, including honey, I have plenty of leather products in my closet. I know that means I'm not a "vegan". Now I know to say, "I eat a plant-based diet" or "I follow a vegan diet." Thanks!
    p.s. hope you get well soon!

  3. I never thought of honey like that but that really is a great point!

    I hope you are feeling better! My aunt just went vegan and she was sick for the first few days of it too, maybe it is that?

  4. Awesome guest post!

    I have not been eating honey this week but I have been using my Burts Bees lipchap (which I love for my dry chapped lips in the cold winter!)

    A lot of things Rachel talks about here is why I am hesitant to go vegan. It is a HUGE lifestyle change, not just a diet change.

    I'm already pescatarian (I eat fish once a month or once ever couple of months) but I would like to start following a vegan diet more often - maybe a few times a week.

    Honestly, I really hate the labels, so after this challenge is over I will continue labeling myself a "pescatarian" if anyone asks but I'll likely rarely eat fish and eat a vegan diet a few times a week as well.

    I'm also going to really try and cut back on my purchasing of things with animal products in them, which I know will be hard but I think it's important. Just like we should pay attention to the ingredients in our food, we should also pay attention to the things in our clothes/goods!

  5. Sorry that you're still sick. January and February have been a rough month for a lot of people, and i'm sure it's hard to be changing your diet while being sick. I've never thought of honey not being vegan-interesting thoughts and thanks for sharing!

  6. I have never been able to like ANY protein powders - people have tried to sneak them into smoothies, and I can ALWAYS taste it. I totally hate it - so I rely on yogurt and peanut butter in smoothies if I need protein boosts! Hope you start feeling better!

  7. wow, I had no idea about honey being vegan and that makes so much sense. I feel bad for eating honey now!! Great guest post!!