I Eat Plants: Is Honey Vegan?


Farmer’s Market season is upon us!

That really makes me happy. My work schedule has gotten a bit more hectic, and it looks like I might not be able to make it to my beloved Pleasantville Farmer’s Market on a regular basis, but now I get the chance to explore other markets in other locations and times!

In my travels, I am SO thrilled when I see the word “vegan” on products.  I love that the word is out there for people to see, and that there are enough people who want to buy products that say vegan.  It’s awesome!

There’s one little problem though.


I’m sorry guys, but honey is not vegan.

I’m not at all disputing that it’s a natural sweetener, it’s often local, and it has health benefits.  But…  it’s an animal product.

When I was speaking with a vendor a couple of weeks ago and scanning the ingredients list of their products (no honey!  Yay!), I got into a discussion with the vendor- who thought that it would be vegan because bees are an insect and insects aren’t animals.

Yes they are!

I know they’re not exactly cuddly animals, but they are indeed animals.

In dietary terms, “vegan” means eating no animal products, which includes the more obvious meat (including fish), eggs and dairy, but also honey and other insect products like carmine and confectioner’s glaze, and other bee products like bee’s pollen and bee’s wax.

You know what?  You’re not in trouble if you consider yourself vegan but eat honey.  Not everyone is perfect, and I think that any reduction of animal products in the diet is good for animals!  Just please don’t advertise products as vegan if they contain an animal products.

So what are some alternatives to honey for a vegan?

My personal go-to is maple syrup for a liquid sweetener.  Other options include agave nectar, coconut nectar, and Bee Free Honee– which tastes frighteningly like how I remember honey.

Of course, you can always bake with sugar too.  Vegan sugar, that is… but that’s a conversation for another day.


Cupcakes, made with vegan sugar.

I am so excited for the rest of the summer and seeing all these different products at the farmer’s markets this year.  Keep up the good work, everyone!


About Author

I Eat Plants columnist Jodie Deignan went vegetarian in 2004 and fully committed to veganism in 2007. By day she’s a psychiatric nurse practitioner and by night she spends a lot of time cooking delicious vegan food for herself and her friends. She’s a bit of a picky eater, with a special distaste for mushrooms, seaweed, raw tomatoes, and eggplant, though she’s discovered along the way she’s a little more open-minded than she once thought. She blogs at The Picky Vegan.

1 Comment

  1. Gee, so glad I’m not in “trouble” because I eat honey! Even more relieved that, unlike non-honey-eaters, “not everyone is perfect.” Pheeewww.

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