Sunday, October 29, 2006

A moral dillema

This is an honest question that no one has ever been able to answer to me, and I only ask it because I'm really curious about veganism.

We all know that honey is not vegan. Honey production requires the exploitation of bees, which removes it from the vegan diet. Agreed.

But what about all the fruits and vegetables that are pollinated by bees and other--particularly captive--animals? Are those foods no longer vegan as well?

Are foods pollinated by commercial bees vegan? How about wild bees? How do vegan people know the difference?

The British Vegan Society defines veganism as:

"A philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practical — 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."

The thing is, there are commercial beekeepers, who rent out their hives specifically for the purpose of pollinating farms. These bees are exploited just like any other commercial, captive animal. The weak and unproductive are killed. The queens are replaced periodically and by human devices. Hives are moved, split, and otherwise manipulated in ways that the bees would never naturally choose to do.

Sheep are not hurt by shearing for wool, but they are exploited nonetheless, and as such, wool is not considered vegan. Why not foods pollinated by captive animals?

Jo Stepaniak of Grassroots Veganism (http://www.vegsource.com/jo/qa/qahoney.htm) writes, "Even though humans inadvertently benefit, the bees do not pollinate plants in order to serve human needs; it is simply a secondary aspect of their nectar collecting," but based on the practices of commercial beekeepers, bees are forced specifically to serve human needs. So why is it okay for Vegans to abuse these animals?

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