bees, honey and other sticky subjects

Tuesday, March 28, 2006


Vegans: don't ya just love 'em? I marvel at their inconsistencies and contradictions.

Here's a great example about honey and veganism. It starts well, but then gets muddled.

It begins by referring to an interesting article by a pro-honey vegan proposing that honey is in fact vegan:
I’m afraid that our public avoidance of honey is hurting us as a movement. A certain number of bees are undeniably killed by honey production, but far more insects are killed, for example, in sugar production. And if we really cared about bugs we would never again eat anything either at home or in a restaurant that wasn’t strictly organically grown—after all, killing bugs is what pesticides do best. And organic production uses pesticides too (albeit “natural”). Researchers measure up to approximately 10,000 bugs per square foot of soil—that’s over 400 million per acre, 250 trillion per square mile. Even “veganically” grown produce involves the deaths of countless bugs in lost habitat, tilling, harvesting and transportation. We probably kill more bugs driving to the grocery store to get some honey-sweetened product than are killed in the product’s production.
But our dear anti-honey vegan then muddles on:
... honey is unnecessary cruelty. We may not be able to avoid killing insects when producing crops, driving to the store, or doing other daily activities. But it is really simple to avoid honey, and no one needs it to live. Why should we recklessly abandon our commitment to reducing cruelty in this area of our lives... Honey kills bees. Honey is easy to avoid. Therefore, if reducing suffering matters to you, you should avoid honey.
What a sad person! I wonder if they have ever heard the word “priority”. I wonder if they understand anything about beekeeping. I suspect their brain has been addled by a lack of decent food.


Blogger veganfreak said...

Actually, my brain is just fine, seeing as how it has earned me a PhD from a top educational institution in the United States. And to top it all off, I actually spent some time working in a lab that studied honey bees at a land grant institution, so I have some idea about how bees are raised, and I also have some sense of the physiology of insects.

In any case, what is inconsistent or contradictory about a stance that seeks to do the least harm possible? Please, tell me. I'd love to hear it. No one needs honey to live. Nobody.

I have heard the word 'priority,' and I understand it quite well. Honey doesn't form a major part of my activism, but I do think that moral consistency is important, and I think that honey is avoidable if ethics are your concern.

Finally, you may think me sad for my opinions, but at least I can defend them rationally and thoughtfully. Your blind-side here actually makes no argument. In fact, you spend more than 75% of your article quoting others. Good job: that's the way to make an argument. Well-done.

So, bring out your argument. I'd love to see it. Because what you have here is half-baked idiocy that makes you appear to be addled by a lack of decent food.

4:03 pm  
Blogger Turlough said...

Thanks, Veganfreak.
You said: "No one needs honey to live."
I suppose it comes down to a definition of "need". There's not a lot we actually "need". I didn't need to fly to Central America at Christmas or even drive to the shops today, but I did and probably killed more insect life than in the whole of my hobbyist beekeeping career. Have you done similar things?

I (and I suspect most beekeepers) respect their bees and want to keep them healthy. Actually if I didn't manage them, they probably wouldn't even exist: varroa or something else would have led to their demise. My bees in return enrich my local environment (through pollination) and supply me with surplus honey that they don't need and which is enjoyed by local people.

So I reckon it's a symbiotic arrangement even though a few bees probably get killed by my interventions. I don't need the honey, but it enriches my life and, in a tiny way, a few other people's too, and even arguably my bees.

IMHO, to be so fundamentalist as to claim that all honey production is harmful is hogwash. But you are perfectly entitled to have a narrower vision and ignore what I consider to be far greater priorities in a world teeming with truly harmful actions that we all do each and every day.

7:58 pm  

Post a Comment

<< Home