One problem is those (true) vegans who don't eat honey can be offered/served products with honey in them, that they would not want to consume. Vegans have a hard enough time as it is without semi-vegans etc. complicating things.Originally posted by kpickell
I don't eat honey. But I don't see why someone who eats honey can't label themself vegan.
What I mean by that is that I am not 100% convinced that bees are or aren't able to experience pain or suffering. I am more than open to learning about this from a neurological standpoint.
A Vegan is a person that strives to remove all animal products from their lives. A vegan product is one that is free of all animal ingredients. ...
Animal products include all forms of meat, poultry, fish, eggs, dairy products, fur, leather, wool, silk, and byproducts such as gelatin, rennet, whey, and the like. The Vegan Society and most [Emphasis added] vegans include insect products such as honey in their definition[Emphasis added] as well. There is some debate on the finer points of what constitutes an animal product; some vegans avoid cane sugar that has been filtered with bone char and some won't drink beers and wines clarified with egg whites or isinglass (even though they are not present in the final product). Further, some vegans won't eat food cooked in pans if they have ever been used to cook meat, while other vegans are content to simply remove meat, fish, eggs, and milk from their diets.
Today, however, there are some distinctions between different vegans based primarily on their motivation for following a vegan lifestyle.
"Dietary vegans" avoid animal products in their food although some are less than strict about "minor" ingredients such as honey.[Emphasis added]
What about honey / insects killed by pesticides or during harvest?
What is a vegan? The general definition of a vegan is "someone who does not use animal products." And one reason to avoid these products is to prevent pain and suffering. But it is not clear which organisms are considered animals, nor which organisms can experience pain and suffering.
The behavior of animals is probably the criterion most people use to base their opinions on whether animals feel pain. Most people agree that cats, dogs, and other mammals feel pain. In fact, when some people say 'animal,' they mean 'mammal'. Even the Merriam-Webster Dictionary lists mammal' as a synonym for 'animal.'
It is not as easy for everyone to agree if birds, reptiles, fish, and invertebrates feel pain. On the other hand, many people seriously claim that plants feel pain. Therefore, defining 'animal' by what people generally believe is not going to be productive.
An alternative way to define 'animal' is to use a scientific definition. But even a scientific definition of 'animal' has problems:
Constructing a good definition of animals is not as easy as it might first appear. There are exceptions to nearly every criterion for distinguishing an animal from other life forms.
Biology, 3rd Ed, Campbell, 1993
If vegans are going to follow a technical or scientific definition of the word 'animal,' then sponges (Porifera) are included. Though considered animals, sponges lack true tissues and have no nervous system. They cannot feel pain or suffer any more than plants. So what would be the point of including sponges in a vegan definition of 'animal'?
Instead of trying to define 'animal,' we should simply try to avoid products that cause suffering and harm to nonhuman organisms by figuring out as best we can which feel pain.
It is possible to understand what goes on in certain portions of the human brain, and then compare the human brain to the brains of animals that are closely related to the animals from which humans have evolved. In so doing, all vertebrates (i.e., fish, amphibians, reptiles, mammals, and birds) appear to have what is necessary to feel certain types of pain. Vertebrates are also the animals involved in most of the practices to which vegans object.
Invertebrates (such as insects, mollusks, crustaceans, and silkworms) are different because their evolutionary history diverged from ours long before the evolution of fish, the oldest vertebrates. In fact, we are more closely related to starfish (invertebrates with no brain) than to cephalopods (squid and octopi), who have the largest brains of all the invertebrates. Since their nervous systems developed along a different path, it is very hard to know what they do and do not feel.
Bivalves (a class of mollusk; including oysters, clams, mussels, and scallops) are much more complex than sponges. They don't have a brain, but rather very basic nerve ganglia (bunches of nerves). It is doubtful that their nervous systems are developed enough to be conscious of pain. Because they have nervous tissue, there is an argument to be made for avoiding products that may have harmed bivalves.
Insects (including bees) do have brains. But their brains are not highly developed, and they are likely not large enough to facilitate the consciousness of pain.
So is honey vegan? Our best answer is "We don't know." If one is concerned about doing harm to insects, it's not clear that the production of honey involves any more pain for insects than the production of most vegetables or alternative sweeteners, since the harvesting and transportation of all crops involves some insect deaths.
How should vegans treat this issue publicly? We tend to think that making an issue about honey allows people to marginalize vegans as being in favor of insect rights.' Most people won't yet face the pain and suffering involved in meat. Equating meat with honey probably makes the vegan case nonsensical to the average person.
Saying that honey is a significant ethical issue brings in a range of other issues that people can easily dismiss veganism, reducto ad absurdum. Can't eat honey? Can't kill cockroaches? Can't swat mosquitoes? Squashing flies with your car is the same as eating veal?
At this point in history, the obvious and undeniable issues should receive our focus. We should probably cut people some slack when it comes to insects, even if we ourselves see value in the avoidance of harming them.
And this brings us back to the original question of what is a 'vegan'? Perhaps instead of defining a vegan as "someone who does not use animal products," we should define a vegan as "someone who reasonably avoids products that cause suffering to nonhumans."
This might upset some people who feel that without a dogmatic approach (i.e., a governing body making rules for everyone else), veganism will become meaningless as people will be rationalizing all sorts of behavior. But as the situation stands now, veganism's dogmatic overtones not only
drive people away, but make them not even consider giving up many animal products. If we allowed people to call themselves 'vegan' and let them decide what is reasonable, we could then try to convince them using reason, rather than dogma. How can we scare people away by telling them to do what they think is most reasonable? We think the animals would be much better off with this approach both in the short and long run.
I think as far as food labeling itself as 100% vegan, it definitely should not have honey, since so many people are concerned about this.Originally posted by Kurmudgeon
One problem is those (true) vegans who don't eat honey can be offered/served products with honey in them, that they would not want to consume. Vegans have a hard enough time as it is without semi-vegans etc. complicating things.
I happen to like Joanne Stepaniak. I think she is a very dedicated person. And I hesitate to criticize her, since it seems there are so many other people who are eager to attack and condemn her.Originally posted by dotnetdiva
There is a really good book out there that decribes what being vegan is. It's called "Being Vegan - Living with Conscience, Conviction, and Compassion" by Joanne Stepaniak. It really cleared the matter up for me. I wanted to eat honey, but after reading this book, I decided to give it up. If I ate honey, I wouldn't call myself vegan, I would be a pure vegetarian instead.
I suggest reading that book.