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Vegan Honey?

Can Vegans eat honey? That's, like, exploiting bees, right?
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It depends....on how strict you are being
In political vegan circles it is a huge debate. We used to have that debate in the co-op.....over and over again....

Tam eats honey.
Some of 'em do, some of 'em don't. My girlfriend's vegan, so I have a sort of second-degree expertise on the subject. The hardliners don't.

What I want to know is this: should vegans be eating yeast? They are in kingdom Animalia and have most of the same cell-machinery that we do. They're just only one cell big.
Rationale
I think it depends largely on what drives you to be vegan: dogmatic principles, or personal principles. I consider myself vegan, though not the strictest. I don't have a problem with honey, but that's a very personal conclusion, and not one based on a dogmatic principle such as "eat nothing that came from an animal."

Personally, I am philosophically opposed to contributing to the suffering of other living beings. This then begs the question, what do we mean by suffering? Can it be consistently measured? Does it rely on systems like ours, or can we make qualitative comparisons to loosely analogous systems, or do we just go with whatever we are inclined to do?

Most of the vegans I know that eat honey simply don't choose to empathize with insects. This can be rationalized by the vast differences in our neurological facilities, by varied concepts of suffering, or whatever, but it seems to generally just be whatever their personal comfort level is with the idea of insects being used by people for a by-product.

Hard-line vegans won't eat honey, but if they are really hardline, that means they won't even eat sugar which has been refined in any process which relies on animal by products (apparently, most refined sugar). There's also the matter of contributing monetarily to companies which contribute to animal suffering. Even though what is purchased may be "vegan" by some definition it is still helping to prop up the industry which perpetuates it.

I'd love to be self-sufficient and not contribute to these companies that use cruel corporate farming tactics, but it's hard enough just to keep up with bills and rent without the responsibility of the world's suffering on one's shoulders. And that's my absurd, rambling dialogue on your pretty simple question. ;)
Re: Rationale
Well, my at-oddness with the whole veganism concept is not that I'm pro-cruelty, or anything...

I just don't know why kingdom Plantae gets exempted from the no-suffering thing. Plants are every bit as biologically complex and capable of monitoring their health as animals are.

It just strikes me as kinda anthromopocentric, y'know?
Re: Rationale
But is suffering merely the capability to observe one's health in decline?

It's a question of empathy, and what we choose to (or are preternaturally inclined to) empathize with. It's easiest to empathize with other humans because we know them to be like ourselves biologically. Looking at mammals is one level removed, but there they are, the two eyes, the warm blood, the nervous and endocrine systems. When you hear a dog yelp in pain you know what it is experiencing. You can empathize. Move on to insects, it gets harder. Move on to plants and you're gone.

Additionally, much of what fuels modern veganism is the extremes that corporate farming have gone to in order to reduce costs and increase production with no concern for the well-being of animal life. This strongly exacerbates the moral tone most vegans take.
Re: Rationale
Why is it okay to exploit and manipulate plants, then?

I mean, I understand wanting to minimize suffering, but is the term "suffering" only limited to the things that possess nerve cells?

See, my problem is this: the more I learn about Biochemistry & Molecular Biology (my twin majors in college-land), the more I get the sense all multicellular critters are closely related, and that nervous systems are really a minor part of the whole creation thing. We have a lot more in common with trees and and grasses and amoebae than you would think!

I have the utmost respect for your position, of course, but I just can't, myself, rationalize vegetarianism/vegan from the "decrease the suffering" standpoint, as it strikes me as anthropocentric. They're cuddly and closer to us, genetically, so we can empathize. Photosynthetic organizmes, fungi, bacteria, and archae, we can't so much.

The one I do get, though, is the you-can-feed-more-people-with-the-grain-it-takes-to-feed-a-cow-than-with-the-cow-itself argument.

This argument sorta reminds me of the galactophagi, the ancient mediterranean holy men that wanted to cause no suffering to any living being, so they became goat-herds and lived wholly off the milk from the goats (and fruit, if memory serves).

hmm.
Re: Well...
As an ex vegetarian and vegan, and as a person who lept at all heart-tugging information from animal right's groups, i'd encourage research from other sources as well. :)
Re: Well...
Hm. I wasn't aware this information (the techniques and statistics, not whether or not it matters) was even in debate. Have you read information contradicting it that you could point me to?
Re: Well...
Oh i didn't mean to debate anything... but i can't imagine most people would disagree that vegans are very passionate and empathetic, and sometimes facts turn into other things... animals' feelings and so forth. Not saying that's bad. :)
Re: Well...
Well, the debate becomes sort of meaningless if facts are bent to support ideology, as it inevitably just weakens the position. Unless you have obscene amounts of money and a lot of political power, which I guess vegans don't. ;)
Re: Well...
I've heard so many hideously bent facts that now, i just get nervous when anyone quotes or points to a group whose sole purpose is protecting something. Heh ya, i haven't met too many obscenely wealthy vegans so far.
As a vegetarian, I have a similar ethical dilemma whenever I eat p*ssy. ;)
Ack! I have to say I hate the semantics of your question. Veganism is a self imposed choice. There is no vegan mafia follwowing me around, monitoring my every move. I CAN eat/wear/purchase/support whatever I want. I CHOOSE not to eat/wear/purchase/support certain things due to my veganism. End rant.

As Ter pointed out, I do eat honey. I try to support small local farms with this. I know larger farms - like w/ most factory farming - used to burn the hives. That information is fairly old though & I haven't bothered to research it again.

I use fructose instead of white sugar at home. I do what I can.
Most vegans don't eat honey. However, I had vegan friends who hated bees so yeah, they ate honey. haha. :p
Would human breastmilk cheese from conseting mothers hooked up to breast milk pumps be Vegan?

Rev
Nah. Ain't no suffering/exploitation involved. T'would be totally vegan.

There was, however, a case where Child Protective Services took away a vegan couple's baby because they, believing breast-milk feeding was wrong, tried to raise it on nut-milk. Without any additives.

The baby got sick.
I don't know about that, but vegans can eat the corn out of my shit. Because that's a vegetable.

I'm kidding! Honest! Mostly.
But seriously
I will stop exploiting beees for their honey when sharks and zombies stop exploiting me for my innards and zombies for my brains, respectively.

Sorry. I'm not even vegan.
What about mutton? Or similarly, any animal that drops dead on it's own? Seems that silkworms will go in making silk, sheep will go on getting hairy, etc.

Is a cleanly killed cows suffering greater than my own when I really want a steak? Not to me.