Day 19

Here at VINE Sanctuary, we take special care to cultivate wildflowers favored by bees and to provide appropriate habitats for native bees. Why? Because bees might be the most important animals on earth, in terms of doing things that help to keep the rest of us alive. Bees pollinate one-sixth of all of the flowering plant species in the world as well as 400 different food crops.

There are thousands of species of bees, only a few of whom make honey. Even fewer are used in commercial honey-making. Many people think that buying honey is a way to support bees, but nothing could be further from the truth.

Along with habitat loss and climate change, bee-keeping for honey is one of the reasons that many species of bees are endangered. When hives of captive honey bees are established, they can crowd out native bees when foraging. Since it takes two million flowers to make just one pound of honey, imagine how much pollen that could have fed wild bees, butterflies, and other essential insects and is consumed by farmed bees in order to make honey for humans. Diseases bred in the close confines of what can only be called honey factories can spread into wild populations.

The process of bee-keeping is also unkind to bees themselves. While we cannot know exactly how they experience this, it cannot be satisfying to have to eat sugar water after someone has appropriated the honey you spent the summer making to see your hive through the winter. Nor can it be pleasant to be periodically forced from your home by smoke. No wonder bee-keepers have to wear protective gear -- just like every other animal exploited by humans, bees fight back!

Be kind to bees by avoiding honey! Here are some vegan alternatives:

  • Maple Syrup: Since VINE is located in Vermont, we have to give a shout-out to our favorite local vegan product. Made from the springtime sap of maple trees, pure maple syrup is a versatile sweetener that brings you the benefits of thiamine (B1), riboflavin (B2), calcium, manganese, and other vitamins and minerals. It you think you don't like maple syrup because of the taste of artificial maple flavor, trust us and give pure maple syrup (preferably made in Vermont) a try!

  • Agave Syrup: Made from agave plants, agave syrup comes in light, amber, dark varieties. Light is more neutral while dark contains more nutrients, which include vitamins C, B1, B2, and B6. Agave is very sweet, and is also less sustainable than maple syrup, so use it in moderation and always start with less than you think you need.

  • Dandelion Jelly: Because it is made from flowers, dandelion jelly tastes very much like honey. So, if what you enjoy is the flavor of honey in your hot tea, give dandelion jelly a try. You can make it yourself in the spring or buy it online.

  •  Brown Rice Syrup: Made from brown rice, this syrup is somewhat less sweet than honey and closer to the consistency of molasses. 

  • Honey Analogs: Because more and more people are going vegan, more and more companies have begun to make honey substitutes, often from very innovative ingredients such as coconut nectar, apples, dates, or tapioca. So, if you're feeling adventurous, try a new type each time you run out until you've sampled them all!

Still curious? Learn more about the honey industry, the environmental harm done by commercial bee-keeping, and the marvelous diversity of bees themselves.

Recipe of the Day

Speaking of maple syrup, here's our cofounder pattrice's improvisational recipe for Maple-Cayenne or Maple-Whiskey Carrots: 

  1. Peel and slice as many carrots as you like
  2. Melt some vegan butter or margarine (avoid palm oil, please) in the bottom of a frying pan or other wide-bottomed pan
  3. Add the sliced carrots to the melted margarine and saute until they begin to soften
  4. Pour maple syrup over the carrots -- enough to coat them nicely with some liquid left -- just add more margarine, carrots, or maple until they will be able to fully cook without running out of liquid
  5. [optional] If you want it spicy, shake cayenne powder or other dried hot peppers over the carrots -- make it as spicy as you like it!
  6. Cover and turn down heat to a low simmer
  7. Simmer, stirring occasionally, until the carrots are very soft
  8. [optional] For a more robust flavor, add a healthy glug of either whiskey or rum -- the alcohol will boil off, leaving behind the flavor
  9. When the carrots are so soft that they are beginning to break up, you're done!

Add salt to taste. Serve as a side dish or ladle over couscous or quinoa as a main dish.

Shout Out

Omowale Adewale, a cofounder of Black VegFest, is a dedicated activist and advocate for veganism and plant-based living within Black communities. His newest project, Liberation Farm is a Black vegan farm in NY producing 100% organic produce and exploring the Black diaspora’s stolen history and forgotten culture through a slow and peaceful human transformation through skill-building workshops, vegan brunches, group exploration hikes.

Omowale is the author of An Introduction to Veganism & Agricultural Globalism and Brotha Vegan: Black Men Speak on Food, Identity, Health and Society. He is a New York State 2-time kickboxing and boxing champion and former mixed-martial arts fighter.

Further Inspiration

Watch this lecture by the amazing Syl Ko, Who is the Human and Who is the Animal?

Other Ways to Engage

Join the V2V Forum

Share your experiences with other challenge participants and get expert advice from longstanding vegans here.

Follow Us on Social Media

Get to meet the members of our multi-species community. Follow us on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for an inside look into the daily adventures at the sanctuary.

Join our Book Club

The VINE Book Club meets monthly to discuss books of interest to animal advocates who work within an ecological awareness of the linkages between animal exploitation and other forms of injustice. Learn more here.

Upcoming Events

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