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Was just wondering why vegans don't like using honey? It helps sweeten herbal teas like rooibos.
What other sweetener alternatives are there?

Responses (19)

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    Posted by kindlizard at 09/09/08 02:40:17

    agave is really good for tea. i'll pm you more in depth later.

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    Posted by gr8vegan at 09/09/08 04:28:28

    +1 on Agave.

    I guess my bottom line is that I couldn't go into a BeeHive and smoke them out and steal their food while killing their brothers and sisters so I don't consume it, but the reality is that Bee Keeping is fundamental to flowering plant agriculture, but my vote would be to let them keep their hard work.

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    Posted by JohnnySensible at 09/09/08 06:55:11

    Rynn Berry answered the "honey" question very effectively in the New York Times a few weeks ago - here it is with the links -

    Q - Can you address why some vegans do not eat honey? I understand the thoughts behind not eating eggs and dairy, but have not heard anything convincing about the ill-effects of honey production.

    A - Vegans eschew honey because they regard it as an unethical food. In the first place, honey is the work product of the bee, intended to nourish their offspring. Beekeepers snatch honey from the hive and substitute sugar water, depriving the young of their proper nourishment.

    Stealing honey is not only unconscionable — it is a violation of the precepts of asteya (non-stealing) and ahimsa (non-violence) that are promulgated by the oldest religions on the planet, Buddhism and Jainism, that promote non-violence and non-violent eating.

    Aesthetically, honey is an unlovely food. Honey is nectar exuded by flowers, swallowed by bees then regurgitated by them. Ethical vegans accurately refer to honey as "bee spit," or "bee vomit."

    At the core of every beehive is the queen bee—the only bee capable of laying eggs. While worker bees live only for a few months, queens live as long as several years.

    However, in commercial beekeeping, the same remorseless practices associated with factory farming are applied to bees. The queens are killed every six months, and replaced by virgin queens that are mass-produced by specialist breeders. These virgin queens are artificially inseminated by sperm collected from crushed males. The queen has her wings cut off –to prevent her from swarming, which is the natural reproductive activity of the colony.

    To increase crop yields, beekeepers often transport colonies to areas where crops are in flower, so that bees may artificiallly pollinate them. The unintended consequence of this is that it drives out the native pollinators, such as birds, bats, moths, butterflies, and other winged creatures. This creates a monoculture of pollinators that is subject to disease and dearth. Hence the recent alarming decline in honeybee populations in the US.

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    Posted by Tatiana at 09/09/08 08:53:28

    Other alternatives are maple syrup or dates (or even other fruits, depending on what you are sweetening).

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    Posted by condekedar at 09/09/08 13:00:32

    This is a good, very recent article about the debate over honey in the vegan community. I personally don't use honey, and I don't think it's vegan, but I can understand the ambiguity over the subject:

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    Posted by HM at 09/09/08 17:06:07

    I use dark amber agave syrup, as well as organic real maple syrup (B). I also use non refined sugar (white sugars are usually refined by the use of bone char).
    I remember before I was educated on the real deal behind honey I used it in my tea. One teaspoon for tea. Not hard to give up when I learned about the inhumane keeping of bees. Doesn't matter, organic, local, what. It's still unnatural keeping of bees that is cruel.
    Also the knowledge of what honey really is. Gross. I remember a coffee shop by my house switching from Dragon Fly Chai (made in Portland:)) to Oregon Chai due to running out or something. I wasn't aware of this. I went in and ordered a chai, and immediately tasted the honey and gagged. gross. I asked what was different with the tea. I saw that it was Oregon Chai and Oregon Chai, with the exception of ONE kind, contains honey. Funny, you go long enough without and accidentally taste it later and feel like puking.
    To the question of thinking it's vegan or not... to everything I understand about being vegan and what vegan means not just to me but to it's definition, honey is NOT vegan. Weather I want to think it is or not.

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    Posted by gr8vegan at 09/09/08 19:06:20

    A whole slew of flavored Agaves just hit the shelves here in SoCal. Hazelnut/Cappuccino/Amaretto/ to name a few.

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    Posted by HM at 09/09/08 19:59:44

    yeah actually I was at Papa G's and saw agave straws. Like the honey sticks things... these were agave. I had a coconut one and also a lime one.
    Y U M
    I will need to find those that you speak of. hazelnut? mmmmmm
    I need to find them now!
    er... actually tomorrow after my check is direct deposited (day before pay day sucks when it's only once a month and you move)

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    Posted by Quasi Vegetarian at 09/09/08 22:33:03

    I am not a vegan just a fruitarian bit I have got to tell you that I have not eaten honey since I was a wee child. I do not miss it at all. I don't use any sweeteners at all. I don't know what all the fuss about honey is. I will not eat junk food, cakes or cookies or candies regardless of what they are sweetened with. That is just empty intake into my system.

    If you need something in your tea or coffee to make it drinkable then perhaps you should think about what you are drinking.

    This is just my opinion.


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    Posted by HM at 09/10/08 02:05:08

    let's see...
    I've not had to go to the doctor for any illness or health problem other than my back (which is a lifelong chronic problem) once due to a major muscle spasm in, well, years. I'm relatively healthy. I would say about 6 years. Before that it had been several years as well.
    And yes, I have full insurance through my work.
    I like tea, and I like it on the sweet side, and I don't overdo the sweetness I choose to add to my tea.
    I've never read or heard any claims that agave nectar is bad for my system.
    When I go for my annual check up, my doctor is very pleased with my health, and knows my lifestyle as a vegan and admits to that being the primary cause for the lack of health problems.
    Of course, working in an office building during the winter I do catch a slight case of whatever cold comes through, but I have only missed one day of work due to such incident.
    And yet I drink agave in my tea, and the granola I eat with a banana or other fruit has a maple sugar to it.
    Oh no.
    I also know that some of our diabetic clients have been using agave as a sweetener over splenda after I brought up the not so common facts (amongst the "normal" population) of splenda in the testing of it and so on, and that agave might be a better choice. Upon checking in with dietitians first of course, it was confirmed.
    As I appreciate the opinion of someone able to live their life and enjoy food without added sugars or whatnot, I know that my dining is an experience and I love good tasting food. If it tastes good the way it is, great. If I like it a certain way (because I'm pretty particular on taste), then I will adjust it within the boundaries of my awareness.

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    Posted by ElaineVigneault at 09/26/08 22:55:37

    Honey comes from BEES. Bees are animals. It's really, pretty simple.

    (I don't understand people who have a honey addiction. Have you ever tried agave? It's liquid heaven.)

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    Posted by Honeypot1974 at 09/29/08 10:30:01

    SO I am new to all of this and I am really trying to get a better understanding of my food intake, So with that I was wondering if I am making muffins that call for yogurt and honey what do I use in place of them or is it okay to use if I am just a vegetarian?

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    Posted by Tatiana at 09/29/08 14:01:52

    You could easily use agave nectar instead of honey and vegan (soy, coconut, etc) yogurt instead of cow's milk yogurt.

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    Posted by HM at 09/29/08 16:20:59

    you should also maybe switch to vegan recipe books. Vegan with a Vengeance, Veganomicon (shameless plugs for Isa:) she does live here in Portland) and there are yummy cupcake books out there that are vegan, so you don't have to worry about what ingredients to replace.
    Go with that.

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    Posted by kindlizard at 09/29/08 21:45:44

    I just saw Bee Movie. It shows both sides of this honey issue very well.

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    Posted by gr8vegan at 10/19/08 12:34:03

    +1 on Bee Movie. The best part is at the end when a Cow comes in and wants to ________ (don't want to ruin the movie for peeps!)

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    Posted by keevegan at 11/07/09 13:00:45

    I have considered myself vegan for 8+years and vegetarian for more than 15years with the exception of my at times wishy washy adherence to honey avoidance. I do not particularly even like honey, but it's common use in products that I enjoy (granola,hippie snack bars and otherwise "vegan" bakeries) have left me without a hard line against honey able to compromise it in the moment. I have tried to educate myself on honey production for years now and have not found a lot in terms of "negative" press, aside from more recent arguments involving colony collapse due perhaps to importing bee populations that are susceptible to disease and pushing out native colonies. After reading this thread, I don't know why I would even consider that the honey production would be any more ethical than other accepted "farming techniques" and or less exploitative. Thank you for this informative and blatant expose. (For the record I do not care for the taste of Agave- just not into it. I don't feel I will need a "honey replacement" it was not that important to my diet.)

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    Posted by Chase Morgan at 09/26/10 15:10:51

    Im sorry but i havent heard a strong enough argument against consuming honey about the only time i ever consume it is homemade iced tea from chinese take out places so im not too worried......what about the insects we inhale on our way to the farmers market on our bikes they have rights too dont they?

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    Posted by JohnnySensible at 09/26/10 17:53:05

    I understand that folk eat whatever they want to.

    I do not undersrand why honey / pollen eaters like to call themselves 'vegan'.

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