(NaturalNews) Many people with omnivorous eating habits understand the basics of vegan living, that most vegans don't eat or wear meat or animal products or by-products. Yet many of these same people are taken aback when a vegan explains that she won't eat honey. They don't understand why a vegan wouldn't eat honey. Here's why.
Vegans choose their particular lifestyle for multiple reasons. One of those reasons is to protect their health. Vegans have studied the findings of legitimate scientists and have discovered that eating animal protein is hazardous to one's health. Eating animal protein (whether it is found in meat, eggs, or dairy products) can be directly linked to multiple Western diseases (also known as "diseases of affluence"). Some of those diseases include cancer, diabetes mellitus, heart disease, and osteoporosis, to name a few. A great many vegans have chosen to eliminate all animal protein from their diets to gain these health benefits. Even vegetarians don't benefit from the health a vegan diet offers.
So where does honey fit in? Honey is an animal product, produced when bees digest nectar they have collected and then regurgitate it. It is an animal product, just like an egg or milk. Yes, a bee is an insect and not technically considered an animal by many people, but a bee's body changes the composition of what it ingests, just like other animals. According to Raw Food Explained.com, honey contains "animal ferments" as well as protein. If animal protein is harmful to one's health, then honey also falls under that category.
However, there is another reason vegans won't eat honey, and that is because it is harmful to another living creature. According to Daniel Hammer, bees do experience pain and suffering while they are being exploited for their products (not just honey but also beeswax, royal jelly, and more). There is simply no way beekeepers, humane or otherwise, can avoid harming or killing bees while they are extracting the bees' products. Many vegans choose their lifestyle because they wish to avoid harming any other creature, and so they choose not to eat honey.
Just as vegans won't eat honey, they also won't eat or use these products for the same reasons:
Other animal non-food products, such as leather and wool
Fish oil (non-vegan omega 3 supplements)
Other hidden animal products, such as gelatin
Other foods processed with animal products, such as non-vegan sugar, processed using a bone char filter
Vegans will continue to educate their omnivorous friends and relatives, hoping to avoid awkward situations when dining together or when accepting gifts. Refusing to eat honey may seem confusing to non-vegans at first, but when they understand the rationale behind a vegan's choices, people should have a better idea of why vegans avoid bee products and other products derived from animals or insects.
Cindy Jones-Shoeman is the author of Last Sunset and a Feature Writer for Academic Writing at Suite101. Some of Cindy's interests include environmental issues, vegetarian and sustainable lifestyles, music, and reading.