As per The Vegan Society, veganism is defined as: “[A] philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude – as far as is possible and practicable – all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of humans, animals and the environment. In dietary terms it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”
In short, this means that anyone who follows a vegan lifestyle should refrain from consuming and using all products made from animals (e.g bacon and leather,) as well as all products made by animals (such as milk and butter.) For strict vegans, this also applies to honey; consuming honey is seen as taking advantage of the bees’ labour, especially since the insects are often harmed or killed in the process of harvesting the product. It is for this same reason that many people have chosen to boycott avocados.
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As pointed out in a recent article via The Conversation, bees help to pollinate many of our food crops. Because of demand, there aren’t enough local bees to do this job efficiently, so some farms employ a practice called migratory beekeeping. This sees farmers drive truck-loads of hives into their fields so that the bees can pollinate the crops during the plants' most fertile window. Unfortunately, this comingling of colonies spreads disease, which can result in the collapse of that particular bee population. According to Scientific American, migratory beekeeping can also contribute to the insects having shorter lifespans.
"Forcing bees to gather pollen and nectar from vast swaths of a single crop deprives them of the far more diverse and nourishing diet provided by wild habitats,” the website states. “The migration also continually boomerangs honeybees between times of plenty and borderline starvation. Once a particular bloom is over, the bees have nothing to eat, because there is only that one pollen-depleted crop as far as the eye can see. When on the road, bees cannot forage or defecate. And the sugar syrup and pollen patties beekeepers offer as compensation are not nearly as nutritious as pollen and nectar from wild plants."
These facts aside, there are many other fruits and vegetables that may be affected by migratory pollination. These include; apples, plums, cherries, alfalfa, blueberries, watermelon, cantaloupe, cucumbers, pumpkin, lettuce, squash and tangerines. And while not every farm employs migratory beekeeping practices, unless the consumer knows exactly where their food is coming from, they have no way of knowing whether or not the bees involved were exploited.
Of their stance on migratory beekeeping, PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman told The Washington Post: “Going vegan is about making kind choices that bring about positive change. Average shoppers can't avoid produce that involved migratory beekeeping any more than they can avoid driving on asphalt, which has animal ingredients - but they can save nearly 200 animals' lives every year by choosing plant-based foods instead of meat, eggs, and dairy 'products.’"
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