Is Honey Suitable For Vegans and Vegetarians?

Is Honey Suitable For Vegans and Vegetarians?

Over the years, people have argued whether honey is a vegetarian food or not, and both parties have pretty valid arguments.

There are many deciding factors to back up both sides of the argument, including the type of vegetarian or vegan in question, their personal preferences, or even the kind of honey involved.

So the answer to the question, Is honey suitable for vegetarians and vegans?, is both yes and no. Wondering how? Let’s break it down.

Who is a vegetarian?

A vegetarian is a person who does not eat any by-product or animal slaughter such as meat, fish, or poultry. They don’t consume foods that incorporate processing aids derived from slaughter.

What is a vegetarian diet?

A vegetarian diet can include fruits, vegetables, grains, pulses, nuts, and seeds.

Whether a vegetarian wants to include dairy products like cheese, butter, yogurt, and other foods like honey and eggs depends on the type of diet they follow.

A vegetarian diet does NOT include meat or poultry, fish or seafood, insects, and stock or fat from animals

Types of vegetarians

Lacto-vegetarians are vegetarians who exclude meat, fish, poultry, and eggs, as well as foods that contain them from their diet. But they consume dairy products, like milk, cheese, yogurt, and butter.

Ovo-vegetarians are vegetarians who exclude meat, poultry, seafood, and dairy products from their diet but allow eggs.

Lacto-ovo vegetarians are vegetarians who exclude meat, fish, and poultry from their diet but allow dairy products and eggs.

Vegans are vegetarians who exclude all animal and animal-derived products from their diet.

Pescatarians are usually not as common as the other types of vegetarians. They are people who exclude meat and poultry, dairy, and eggs from their diet but allow fish. While they’re sometimes considered vegetarians, pescatarians do eat animal flesh. So technically, they cannot be classified as vegetarians.

Who is a vegan?

A vegan is a stricter vegetarian who excludes all foods that contain animal products from their diet. They avoid all meat, seafood, poultry, and dairy, as well as foods obtained by any form of animal exploitation.

The Vegan Society defines veganism as a way of living that seeks to exclude—as far as is possible and practicable—all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food.

Most vegans embrace a plant-based diet, avoiding all animal flesh and animal products such as:

  • Honey
  • Gelatin (from cows or pigs)
  • Whey (milk)
  • Shellac
  • Carmin
  • Albumin
  • Some forms of Vitamin D3 

Is honey suitable for vegetarians ?

According to the National Library of Medicine, “the vegetarian diet may include eggs, dairy and honey.” Honey's pollen isn't considered meat, so vegetarians don't need to worry about accidentally eating animal products.

Another point that proves honey is suitable for vegetarians is that bees are not harmed during its production. Beekeeping is a harmless activity and honey-making is an eco-friendly way for humans to benefit from nature.

Is honey suitable for vegans?

Vegans are stricter vegetarians, so the simple answer is no. Honey is not vegan.

Vegans exclude honey from their diet because it is a food made with the involvement of a living creature, which is everything they preach against. As long as it isn’t a plant-based product, most vegans will kiss it goodbye.

Many vegans see no difference between bee farming and other forms of animal farming, so they opt to avoid these exploitative practices by avoiding honey and other bee products, like honeycomb or royal jelly, entirely.

Honey alternatives for vegans

Abiding by a vegan diet doesn’t mean you have to eliminate the feeling of sticky sweetness that honey provides. You can just substitute it with several plant-based options. The most common are:

  • Molasses
  • Date syrup
  • Maple syrup
  • Agave nectar
  • Coconut nectar
  • Brown rice syrup
  • Barley malt syrup

Don’t forget to be moderate while taking these sweeteners as they are all high in sugar. And too much added sugar can be harmful to your health.


The sweet debate over honey's place in vegetarian and vegan diets doesn’t end in a simple yes or no, but a nuanced understanding.

For vegetarians, honey is a resounding yes, given its origin and the absence of harm to bees. However, for committed vegans, it's a regrettable no, as it involves the exploitation of living creatures.

The path to sweetness for vegans lies in alternative plant-based options like molasses, date syrup, and maple syrup. So, in the realm of honey, the choice echoes personal values and dietary restrictions and considerations.


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