By Ghanim al-Sulaiti
a long-time vegan and owner of several vegan businesses, I’m often
asked by friends, colleagues, followers and readers about which foods
are vegan, or if it’s ok to eat certain foods. It’s why I wanted to
dedicate this week’s column to clearing up the truth about honey
production, and the Bee Crises. Fact: the idea that you can obtain honey
without harming bees is a myth. If you’re buying honey, you cannot
pretend that it comes naturally from wild hives or that the bees are
making it happily and sustainably. Honey isn’t vegan because, in order
to obtain it, humans exploit bees.
Bees create honey to store the
food that the hive needs to survive over winter, when there are no
flowers around. If we eat honey, we are taking their food. When we take
that honey, either the hive dies…or you have to feed the bees
artificially, with sugar, in order to keep them alive.
hives are routinely burned after the honey is harvested, because that’s
cheaper than feeding them. It’s animal abuse, and proves that there is
nothing ethical about ‘honey business’.
Beekeepers keep bees in
artificial conditions rather than their natural beehives, and then take
the honey from them for supermarkets and stores. While we have grown up
associating bees with honey, and somehow assuming that the honey belongs
to us —it’s time we all face the reality that bees create their honey
for a very specific reason – it’s their sole food source through the
cold winter months.
Honey provides essential nutrients to bees, and
is vital to the wellbeing of every hive. And yet, our human-forced
operation to keep bees supplying honey for us has led to an extremely
damaging result. Millions of bees are dying off, threatening our
environment and our food supply. We rely on bees to pollinate everything
from almonds to fresh fruit. If they are unable to pollinate…what
happens? It’s simple: No bees, no food.
In recent years, beekeepers
report they’re losing on average 30% of all honeybee colonies each
winter. They’re disappearing at a faster rate than ever before, meaning
we should all do our bit to act on the crises.
including sunflowers, lavender, and flowering cactus, will provide bees
with nectar and pollen. Even growing a few little herbs; such as mint,
parsley, and oregano — on a windowsill or balcony can help feed bees.
(And in turn, they help us actually keep a plant alive)
We must let
bees keep their honey. They need it for nourishment more than humans
need it for flavouring. Vegan, ethical honey alternatives include agave
nectar, maple syrup, and more. Agave nectar comes from the agave plant,
and is slightly sweeter and thinner than honey. Maple syrup is made from
the sap of sugar, black or red maple trees. These trees grow in colder
climates – they store starch in their roots during winter, which turns
into sugar and rises up to be harvested as sap in the spring.
left alone, bees are natural human-helpers. Saving them also means
saving ourselves, and our planets environment, plant-based foods and
* The author is an expert in vegan wellbeing and health. Instagram handle: @Ghanim92