November 5, 2010
A week ago I decided to switch to a vegan diet. That’s right. Vegan. Not vegetarian, but vegan. That means no more steak, tri-tip, ribs, burgers, cheese, chicken breast, buffalo wings, bratwurst, cheese, milk, yogurt, butter, ice cream, oh and did I mention cheese, and… honey. Huh? Honey? What’s wrong with honey?
Now I admit, I had to Google this one, which led me to PETA’s website. I found the following article, titled ‘What’s Wrong With Eating Honey’:
“Unfortunately, like factory farmers, many beekeepers take inhumane steps to ensure personal safety and reach production quotas. It’s not unusual for larger honey producers to cut off the queen bee’s wings so that she can’t leave the colony or to have her artificially inseminated on a bee-sized version of the factory farm “rape rack.” When the keeper wants to move a queen to a new colony, she is carried with “bodyguard” bees, all of whom—if they survive transport—will be killed by bees in the new colony. Large commercial operations may also take all the honey instead of leaving the 60 pounds or so that bees need to get through the winter. They replace the rich honey with a cheap sugar substitute that is not as fortifying. In colder areas, if the keepers consider it too costly to keep the bees alive through the winter, they destroy the hives by pouring gasoline on them and setting them on fire. Also, bees are often killed or have their wings and legs torn off by haphazard handling. According to the Cook-DuPage Beekeepers Association, humans have been using honey since about 15,000 B.C., but it wasn’t until the 20th century that people turned bees into factory-farmed animals. Happily, many sweeteners are made without killing bees: Rice syrup, molasses, sorghum, Sucanat, barley malt, maple syrup, cane sugar, and dried fruit or fruit concentrates can replace honey in recipes. Using these will keep your diet bee-free.”
Huh. Okay, didn’t know any of that. And yes, I don’t like the idea of “rape racks”, or of beekeepers taking the honey they need to survive through the winter, and replacing it with sugar-water. It’s like when I gave birth to my daughter, and they told me if I wanted to rest, they would take my daughter to the nursery and just feed her bottles of sugar-water if she got hungry. I was NOT into that. So I will cut honey from my diet. Guess it’s time to check out that agave syrup I’ve been hearing so much about.
There are a few other interesting articles on bees and honey on PETA’s website:
- ‘But What About Honey? Is it Cruelty-Free?’ – This article talks about all the things honey bees do that show they have cognitive abilities and thought functionality. It also discusses how they suffer because of agricultural manipulation. (http://prime.peta.org/2009/01/but-what-about-honey-is-it-cruelty-free)
- ‘The Not-So-Sweet World of Honey’ – This article talks about how most of the honey ingested globally, originates in China. (http://www.peta.org/b/thepetafiles/archive/2011/01/20/the-not-so-sweet-world-of-honey.aspx?PageIndex=2)
- ‘Honey: From Factory-Farmed Bees’ – This article discusses how honey bees are capable of abstract thinking. It says honeybee populations have declined by 50% since the 80s, partly due to the factory farm habitats. (http://www.peta.org/issues/Animals-Used-for-Food/honey-from-factory-farmed-bees.aspx)
References:  http://www.peta.org/about/faq/Whats-wrong-with-eating-honey.aspx