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What Is a Vegan Substitute for Honey and How Does It Work?

Going vegan can be an incredibly rewarding decision. It’s a great way to make choices that are kind to the planet we live on and kind to the animals we live alongside, not to mention a vital way of taking care of our shared planet. And most parts of being vegan are relatively easy—no meat, no animal byproducts, and definitely no animal exploitation or animal testing. While those big categories are fairly straightforward, for some, finding ways to cut out less-obvious animal products like honey may take a bit more research.

Here at Kinder Beauty, we love the bees. They’re a beautiful picture of loyalty, hard work, and teamwork—as bees work together to protect their hive and take care of the planet. 

If you’re intrigued by the idea of cutting out honey (since nobody wants to hurt the bees), don’t worry—this doesn’t mean cutting out sweets. There are tons of alternatives to honey that protect the bees while still giving you that sweet flavor. Here’s your complete guide.

The importance of bees

If you’re not already in awe of bees, just turn on Animal Planet. Bees are crazy-good at doing what they do, and they take care of the planet while doing it. Here are some of the reasons why bees are so important.

Pollinating crops

If you’ve ever seen Bee Movie featuring the voice of Jerry Seinfeld, you may be a little confused as to what a bee’s real job is. Unlike the movie, where each bee can choose what he wants to be (get the pun?), a bee’s main job is to pollinate plants.

This doesn’t just mean flowers. We’re talking about almost every plant you can imagine relying on bees to do a hefty portion of pollination. 

Here’s how it works:

Just like humans, bees are hairy. So, when a bee lands on a flower, their hair picks up tons of pollen particles. Bees also have special brushes on their legs and pockets to store pollen in until they get back to their hives. Excess pollen, however, falls from bees as they fly back home, which is how pollination occurs.

Economic stability

Our economy relies heavily on bees for a few reasons. The first reason goes back to food. An estimated $15 billion worth of crops in the United States alone are pollinated by bees. If that’s not shocking enough, 200 million pounds of crops in the UK are also the results of bee pollination. Our economy thrives off bees’ contribution, and they’re a huge reason that we have enough food to eat.

Life without bees

Because of everything bees do, it’s pretty intimidating to think about what life would be like without them. However, it’s becoming more and more of a reality as the air becomes increasingly polluted and the honey industry becomes more harmful to bees than ever.

Life without bees would mean a lot of things for us. First, our economy would take a huge hit. From crops alone, the United States would lose an estimated $5.7 billion each year. 

But it’s not all about the money. The lack of bees would alter entire ecosystems and the natural order of the planet. Many of the fruits and veggies that we’re used to seeing lining the grocery store shelves would simply cease to exist, and animals that eat the plants that bees used to pollinate would begin to die off. Losing the bees would set off a chain of events that could prove disastrous for our planet. 

How the honey industry hurts bees

One of the largest ways bees face danger today is from the honey industry. When bees collect pollen, they do so to make honey, which is full of nourishment for bees. It’s a life-giving nectar they rely on to fuel them and take care of their communities. Without it, they have no real sustenance. 

In place of their honey, farmed bees are fattened up with high-fructose corn syrup, which is a pale imitation of the real stuff. When compared with bees that are fed honey, bees that are fed corn syrup have weakened immune systems and are more susceptible to damage from pesticides. 

Honey is especially important for bees during the winter months. They create stores of honey in their hives to last them until they can pollinate again in the spring. However, the honey industry robs bees of their nourishment and instead makes a profit. 

It’s estimated that bees can visit up to 5,000 flowers each day and still make less than a teaspoon of honey in their entire lifetime. In other words, a bee’s hard work to create honey as nourishment is turned around and sold on grocery store shelves.

The problems don’t end there, unfortunately. While it’s a bit strange to think about, bees are treated as a form of livestock. That means that they’re frequently packed up by the billions and shipped across the country. What’s worse is that importing honey bees can also create competition between them and local pollinators, who are also largely at risk of dying out. In this situation, we’re all losing out—honeybees, local insect life, and human beings. 

The good news is, there are other options.

Honey swaps to make today

There are tons of alternatives to honey that can help protect the bees and still offer sweetness where you need it. 

Here are some of our favorite vegan substitutes for honey:

Use agave nectar

Another alternative you can use to honey is agave nectar. You probably know agave from tequila, but when turned into syrup, it closely replicates honey without the environmental damage or animal cruelty. Agave nectar comes from the sap of the plant and can be used by itself in place of honey wherever you need it. 

So whether you need some extra sweetness in your morning cup of coffee or want to add it to your baking arsenal, agave nectar can do it all.

Use syrups

There are also many syrups sold in local health food stores or farmers’ markets that act as vegan honey substitutes. Here are a few of our favorites.

  • Barley Malt Syrup
  • Brown Rice Syrup
  • Dandelion Syrup
  • Maple Syrup
  • Sorghum Syrup
  • Yacon Root Syrup
  • Date Syrup

Other ways to help the bees

In addition to finding alternative ways to sweeten your tea and baked goods, there are a few other ways to help our favorite buzzing critters. Here are some of the things you can do to help the bees.

Steer clear of pesticides

One of the biggest bee killers is the chemicals used in farming. Avoid using chemicals such as pesticides, fertilizers, herbicides, insecticides, and neonicotinoids, or buying products that contain them. Not only are they bad for our bodies, but they can damage bees' tiny, sensitive bodies.

Helpful tip: If you do farm or garden, try using veganic soil to keep bugs away! 

Use Vegan Beauty Products

Another way you can help the bees is by using vegan products. You probably care what goes into the products you use and how they’re made. 

Choosing to be vegan means choosing cruelty-free products, being kinder to the planet and the animals that inhabit it, and helping to make the environment a better one for the bees in it.

Not sure what vegan beauty products to use? No worries! Kinder Beauty Box offers a large selection of beauty products for only $23 a month.

Lay off the honey and save the bees

These honey substitutes are not only full of delicious, sweet nectar goodness, but they’re also full of kindness to the earth and the bees.

If you’re vegan, you’re already ahead of the game! The world of veganism can seem complicated, but it is oh-so-rewarding! The Kinder Beauty blog is packed with vegan skincare and DIY self-care tips for you to implement into your life for a better planet and a better you! Kick back, relax, and start reading.

For more information about how you can help the bees, check out this resource.



10 Ways to Save the Bees | The Bee Conservancy

The Honey Industry | PETA

The Environmentalist: The coolest things bees do for the planet and humans | Green Peace

Pollination - Native Plants and Ecosystem Services | Michigan State University 

Honey Bees and Pollination - Bee And Butterfly Habitat Fund 

What Would Happen to the World's Food Supply If Bees Went Extinct | Business Insider  

6 Tips for Veganic Gardening | Vegan Action

The Problem with Honey Bees | Scientific American 

High Fructose Corn Syrup is Bad for Bees: Integrative Medicine and Digestive Center | Hopkins Medicine 

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