The vegan ethic is complex and nuanced. Any vegan that says otherwise is itching for a (respectful, intelligent, I hope) fight. So I may as well be calling this piece, ‘It’s actually impossible to be vegan, but we are all doing our best.’ To me, veganism is about trying to live in harmony with the planet. My beekeeping is not an exception to my veganism. It is a well-thought out amendment. It might even make me a better vegan, depending on how much of this you follow along with.
Still, I am a beekeeper and I am a vegan and that is a sticking point for about 50% of the vegans I know. This is my attempt to explain my position. I am vegan because I deeply care about animal rights. I dig the other benefits, but in my heart, I believe eating animals is wrong. My purpose for saying so is that it needs to be clear from the start that I really care about bees. I am not arguing that I think killing bees or treating them with anything but the utmost respect is OK. I don’t keep bees because they fall outside of my deeply felt consideration. In fact, I think bees are amazing…
Whenever I think about the shortcomings of the human species, I always end up being reminded of the near perfection of bees. Selfless, female-dominated, self-reliant, dancing, mysterious bees.
Human life as we know it is dependent on bees. It is true that there are wild bee populations; but they are dying. It is a widely held belief within the beekeeping community, and those educated about what commercial beekeeping has done to the world’s bee population, that small-scale “backyard beekeepers” hold the key to preserving disease resistant stock that can survive to pollinate all the foods upon which vegans and non-vegans rely. About 1/3 of the human diet can be traced back to bee pollinated foods…
The point is vegans need plants, and plants need bees. And bees make honey.