If you’re looking to cut down on your consumption of animal products, or if you are vegan and looking for a suitably tasty alternative to bees’ honey, we have some sweet suggestions that we think you might love.
To start off, let us give you the skinny on honey and why it is better to either find an alternative to traditional bees honey, or source it from a responsible and non commercial bee farm. Honey is actually food for bees, and is their primary source of necessary carbohydrates, amino acids, antioxidants, and natural antibiotics.
Bees make honey by gathering nectar from flowers and then storing it in their honey stomachs – a different stomach from the one they use to store their food. When a bee’s honey stomach is full, it returns to the hive and using its mouth, passes the nectar to other worker bees, who then chew it and pass it from bee to bee until it gradually becomes honey.
Once the honey is created, the bees store it in honeycomb cells within the hive and fan it tirelessly with their wings to dry the honey. In the final step of the honey-making process, bees seal each honeycomb cell with a wax lid in order to keep it clean. This stored honey is then saved and consumed by the bees themselves during the winter, when it is much harder to produce. The stored honey provides them with the nutrients and energy they need to survive until spring.
The reason why many vegans opt not to include honey in their diets is because many, (but to be fair, not all) beekeepers clip the queen bee’s wings so she won’t be able to flee the hive and take the colony with her. Others collect the honey from the hives and replace it with empty calorie sugary substances like high-fructose corn syrup that, unlike honey, don’t provide bees with the nutrients they need to survive and reproduce.
According to a 2014 study, honey is rich in nutritional components for bees that they don’t receive from high-fructose corn syrup and similar substances. Therefore replacing their honey with sugar water can have a negative impact on the bees’ immune systems and reduce their defences against pesticides, which can damage the entire hive.
Here Are Four Equally Tasty And Cruelty Free Vegan Honey Alternatives
Maple syrup is made from boiled maple tree sap and is not just great as a topping for your pancake, it can also be used to sweeten everything from your morning oat porridge to your meat sauces. The darker the maple syrup, the richer the taste, something to bear in mind when you next pop down to the grocery store.
If you love dates as much as I do, you have got to try date paste. This delicious paste can be used much like jam, and can be used in place of honey when making baked goods, salad dressings or smoothies.
Agave, which typically comes from the blue agave plant, works well as a honey substitute in both hot and iced tea, in your oatmeal, on toast and even in baked goodies. Even better, agave nectar has a lower glycemic index than regular sugar and honey, which makes it a great alternative sweetener for diabetics.
Coconut nectar boasts a similar consistency to honey, and this plant-based sweetener, which is actually the sap from the flowers of the coconut tree, also has a naturally sweet and mild flavour, which makes it very versatile for use in sauces, salads, over yoghurt or even as a sweetener for your cup of tea.
I personally enjoy honey, but I make it a point to purchase it from small, responsible family run farms that respect their bees health and well-being over simple dollars and cents. We can make a difference if each of us take the time and effort to make the responsible choice.