why is honey not vegan

Why Is Honey Not Vegan? Here’s What You Need to Know

Honey is a sugary, viscous liquid that has been utilised in cuisine and beverages for generations. Although honey is a popular food item, it’s important to understand “why is honey not vegan” before including it in your diet. So, if you’re looking to follow a plant-based lifestyle, better read this post as we’ll discuss some tasty alternatives for those who wish to avoid animal products.

Table of Contents:

What is Honey?

Honey is a sweet, viscous liquid made by bees from the nectar of flowers. It’s composed of mostly simple sugars like fructose and glucose, and it contains trace amounts of minerals, vitamins, amino acids and enzymes. Bees collect nectar from flowers with their tongues (proboscis) and store it in their honey stomachs until they return to the hive. There, other worker bees take over the process by fanning their wings to evaporate some water out of the nectar solution so that it thickens into honey. The outcome of the process is a syrup-like substance with a golden hue, which has been utilised for many years in culinary dishes or as an organic sweetener by itself.

Key Takeaway: Honey is a bee-made sweetener commonly used in food recipes and as a natural sweetener. However, not all types of honey are vegan-friendly since some may contain animal products like royal jelly or even bee larvae which must be avoided by vegans – so always check the label before buying.

Why is Honey Not Vegan?

Humankind has relied on the sweet taste of honey for millennia, with it being viewed as a more ethical choice than processed sugar. Honey, however, is not suitable for vegans due to several considerations.

sweet food made by bees

The most obvious reason that honey isn’t vegan is because it involves exploiting animals in order to produce it. Bees have to work hard to collect enough nectar from flowers to make one pound of honey, so harvesting their product can be seen as taking advantage of them for human gain.

Another problem with honey production is its environmental impact. Beekeepers often move their hives around in order to take advantage of different flower blooms throughout the year – something that can disrupt natural ecosystems and cause problems like reduced biodiversity or colony collapse disorder (CCD). Additionally, the application of chemicals such as pesticides by beekeepers can be damaging to the environment.

Finally, many vegans believe that eating honey goes against their core values because they don’t want any part of their diet to involve animal exploitation or harm – even if it’s indirect or unintentional. As such, they prefer not eat anything produced by animals at all – including honey – since doing so could encourage more demand for these products and thus perpetuate animal suffering in some way, shape or form.

Fortunately, there are a variety of options for those who seek sweetness without sacrificing their ethical standards, which we will discuss in the next section.

Key Takeaway: Honey is not vegan-friendly due to the exploitation of bees involved in its production, as well as potential environmental damage and disregard for animal welfare values. 

Alternatives to Honey

For centuries, honey has been used as a natural sweetener; however, it is not suitable for vegans. Sadly, honey isn’t suitable for vegans. Fortunately, there are plenty of plant-based alternatives to honey available in the UK.

Maple Syrup:

Often used as a honey alternative, maple syrup is widely available in grocery stores. It’s made by boiling down maple tree sap until it thickens into syrup. Not only does it taste great on toast or pancakes, but its slightly smoky flavour makes it an ideal addition to savoury dishes too.

Agave Nectar:

Agave nectar comes from the agave plant and is often referred to as ‘agave syrup’. Agave nectar’s milder flavour and thinner texture make it an ideal sweetener for drinks without the added guilt of excess calories. Plus, agave syrup has fewer calories than other forms of sugar, so you can treat yourself without any guilt.

Coconut Sugar:

The sap of the coconut palm tree has a distinctive caramel taste, making it an ideal choice for both sweet and savoury dishes. If you’re looking for a healthier sugar alternative, coconut nectar may be the perfect choice due to its low glycemic index.


Molasses may not be the first thing that comes to mind when considering an alternative to honey. However, its robust caramel taste makes it a suitable option for baking cakes or cookies. Moreover, molasses contains more minerals such as iron, calcium and magnesium than other sugars, providing additional nutritional value.

Date Syrup:

date syrup

Date syrup is made by blending dates with water until they form a thick liquid similar in texture (and sweetness) to honey – however, unlike honey which tends to crystallise over time, date syrup remains stable even after being stored at room temperature. So if you’re looking for something long-lasting, then date syrup could be worth trying out.

These are just some of the vegan alternatives available here in the UK. Why not try various flavours to discover the one that appeals to you? With all these options at your fingertips, there’s no need to miss out on delicious treats just because you’re vegan. 

Key Takeaway: Honey may not be vegan-friendly, but there are plenty of plant-based alternatives, such as maple syrup, agave nectar, coconut nectar and date syrup, that offer just as much sweetness without sacrificing flavour. So don’t let being vegan stop you from indulging in tasty treats.

FAQs in Relation to Why is Honey Not Vegan

Is it OK to eat honey as a vegan?

The short answer is no. Vegans do not consume any animal products, including honey. Honey is produced by bees and involves the exploitation of animals in order to harvest it, which goes against vegan principles. Alternatives to honey derived from plants can be used as a sweetener or condiment.

Why is honey not vegan at PETA?

Honey is not considered vegan because it is a product of animal exploitation. Bees are kept in captivity, and their honeycombs are often destroyed to harvest the honey, which deprives them of essential nutrients and can cause harm or death. Additionally, bees may be exposed to pesticides used on crops that produce nectar for their food source. For these reasons, PETA considers honey an unsuitable food choice for vegans.

Do bees suffer when we take their honey?

Yes, bees do suffer when their honey is taken. The process of harvesting honey can cause physical and psychological stress to the bee colony as it requires them to produce more than they would naturally in order for humans to take some of it away. This disruption causes overcrowding within the hive, which leads to an increased risk of disease and death among the bees. Moreover, many beekeepers in the commercial sector apply chemicals to hives which can be detrimental or even lethal for bees.


In conclusion, it is important to remember the answer to the question, “why is honey not vegan?”.  Although many people think of bees as harmless creatures and may consider their by-products suitable for a vegan lifestyle, the truth remains that beekeeping involves the exploitation of animals, which goes against the principles of veganism. Thus, for those seeking vegan-friendly substitutes to honey, there are plenty of choices, such as agave syrup, maple syrup and date syrup – all without sacrificing flavour.

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