Vegan honey is a sweet and light syrup that is versatile, affordable and easy to make. Made from just 3 ingredients and ready in 30 minutes, it’s a delicious spread on toast, in tea or any dish that calls for regular honey. Whatever your dietary preferences, this is a lightly fragrant, super sweet apple syrup that is a delicious addition to any pantry.
So… are you curious to try my viral vegan honey recipe?! The video for this recipe got over 2.5m views on Instagram and 600k views on TikTok and I got a LOT of comments, questions and a fair bit of hate! People were confused as to why vegans would choose not to eat honey, some were angry that I would encourage others not to eat honey (as they believe there are environmental benefits of honey production), some were concerned about the high sugar content and others were just annoyed that I used the term ‘honey’ instead of syrup.
Overall, it feels like honey is a bit of a ‘grey area’ or at the very lesast, a heated topic when it comes to eating a plant-based diet. I figured I would write a blog post to better explain the vegan position on honey and clear up any of the confusion. If you’d just like to make the recipe – simply click here or scroll right to the bottom of this post, or if you’re curious, then read on for an overview of vegan honey 🙂
Is honey vegan?
The question of whether honey is considered vegan has been a topic of debate within the vegan community. To answer this question, it’s important to understand the process of honey production and the ethical concerns associated with it.
Honey is a natural sweet substance produced by bees using nectar from flowers. Bees collect the nectar and bring it back to their hive, where they process it through enzymatic actions and evaporation to create honey. This honey serves as their primary source of food and energy. The ethical concern arises from the exploitation of bees in commercial honey production. Commercial beekeeping practices often involve the manipulation of bees and their natural habitats for human consumption.
Some points to consider:
1. Bee Exploitation: In commercial honey production, bees are often subjected to various practices that can be considered exploitative. These include artificial insemination of queen bees, clipping of wings to prevent swarming, and selective breeding to maximize honey production.
2. Beekeeping Industry: The commercial beekeeping industry focuses on maximizing honey production, often at the expense of the bees’ well-being. Bees may be subjected to stressful conditions, exposure to pesticides, and transportation over long distances, which can have detrimental effects on their health and survival.
3. Impact on Bee Populations: Commercial beekeeping practices can contribute to the decline of wild bee populations. The demand for honey leads to the intensive breeding and manipulation of honeybee colonies, diverting resources from wild bee populations that play a vital role in pollination and ecosystem balance.
Based on these ethical concerns, many vegans choose to avoid honey altogether, and this is where vegan honey comes into play.
But aren’t bees good for the environment?
There is a common argument that buying honey is beneficial for the environment because it supports honey bee populations, which in turn increases the number of pollinators. However, it’s essential to examine the broader ecological implications and understand the potential impact of honey bees on wild bee populations.
While honey bees are indeed important pollinators, it is crucial to recognize that they are not native to all regions. Honey bees are European in origin and have been introduced to various parts of the world for honey production and crop pollination. This introduction has led to concerns about their impact on native wild bee populations and overall ecosystem balance.
Here are some points to consider:
- Competition for Resources: Honey bees, being highly efficient foragers, can compete with native wild bees for limited resources such as nectar and pollen. This competition can create an imbalance, potentially depriving native bee species of the resources they need for survival and reproduction.
- Habitat Displacement: Honey bees often occupy artificial hives provided by beekeepers, leading to the displacement of native bee species that rely on natural nesting sites. This displacement can disrupt the natural balance of bee populations and negatively impact the biodiversity of pollinators.
- Disease Transmission: Honey bees are susceptible to certain diseases and parasites, which they can unintentionally transmit to native wild bees. The introduction of honey bees to new regions can introduce novel pathogens and pests that may harm native bee populations, further affecting the delicate ecological balance.
- Monoculture Pollination: Honey bees are often used in large-scale monoculture agriculture for pollination services. This practice can lead to a heavy reliance on a single species for pollination, reducing the diversity of pollinators needed for a healthy and resilient ecosystem.
Considering these factors, it becomes clear that the argument that buying honey supports the environment by increasing pollinators is oversimplified. In reality, the impact of honey bees on wild bee populations and overall biodiversity is a complex issue.
So, while there is good intention behind supporting honey bee populations, the reality is more nuanced. From an environmental perspective, supporting native wild bee populations should be a priority. These native bees have evolved alongside local plant species and play a crucial role in maintaining diverse ecosystems. Protecting and preserving their habitats, promoting native plant species, and reducing pesticide use are more effective ways to support and conserve pollinators in their natural environments.
What is vegan honey?
Vegan honey is a sweet light syrup that has a similar consistency, flavour and sweetness to real honey. You can make it in a variety of ways (some people like to add tea or use dandelions for floral flavours) but my recipe below is very simple and uses carton apple juice as the base ingredient. One complaint I’ve got on social media about vegan honey is that it is full of sugar, but keep in mind that so is regular honey. You can enjoy this sweetener in small amounts and still have a perfectly healthy overall diet.
Ingredients for vegan honey
- Apple Juice: Opt for carton apple juice as it provides the perfect base for this recipe. Ensure the juice is free from additives or preservatives for the best results.
- Sugar: Used to sweeten the syrup and enhance its thickness, sugar plays a crucial role in achieving the honey-like texture.
- Lemon Juice: Adding a hint of acidity, the juice from half of a lemon helps to balance the sweetness and brighten the flavor of the vegan honey. You could use bottled lemon juice here if you needed to, but I would increase the quantity by a splash as it is generally less potent in flavour than fresh lemon.
How to Make Vegan Honey
Now that we’ve covered the key points, let’s walk through a high-level overview of how to make vegan honey. Please note – there is a printable recipe card with full instructions at the bottom of this blog post, if you’d prefer to read that 🙂
- Gather your ingredients: measure out your apple juice and sugar. Juice half a lemon.
- Combine: in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat, combine all the ingredients and stir until sugar has dissolved.
- Simmer: once the mixture begins to boil, reduce the heat to low and let it simmer for approximately 20-30 minutes until it has reduced by half and attained a slightly darker golden hue.
- Cool and Transfer: Allow the honey to cool slightly, and then transfer it into a glass jar while it’s still warm. As it cools further, it will thicken to resemble the desired honey-like consistency.
To ensure your vegan honey turns out perfect every time, here are some expert tips to keep in mind:
- Consistency: While cooking the honey, pay close attention to the volume of liquid and the colour. It should be reduced by half and have a *slightly* darker golden color. Remember, even if it appears thin and watery when hot, that’s normal. Overcooking can lead to a firm and sticky texture – if you overcook it, you’ll end up with apple toffee! I made this mistake when first testing the recipe. Don’t wait for it too look thick in the pan – it won’t firm up until it cools, and should still be quite thin when hot.
- Cooling and thickening: Allow the honey to cool slightly before transferring it to a glass jar. As it cools, it will naturally thicken, resembling the desired honey-like consistency.
- Storage Instructions: For most climates, storing the vegan honey at room temperature in a pantry for about 10 days is perfectly fine. If you keep it in the fridge, it will become very hard, so I although it is safe to do so, I wouldn’t recommend it.
In a nutshell – use vegan honey however you would normally use regular honey! Here are some of my fave ways to eat it:
- Spread it on Toast: Vegan honey is a fantastic alternative to traditional honey on your morning toast. Its sweet and luscious flavor adds a delightful touch to your breakfast routine.
- Sweeten Your Tea: Replace regular honey with vegan honey to sweeten your favorite cup of tea. Whether it’s a calming chamomile or an invigorating green tea, vegan honey will enhance the flavors without compromising your ethical choices.
- Drizzle over Pancakes or Waffles: Elevate your stack of pancakes or waffles by drizzling vegan honey over them. The syrupy goodness will seep into every crevice, providing a burst of sweetness in every bite.
- Desserts: Get creative in the kitchen and use vegan honey as a sweetener in your desserts. It can be used in cakes, cookies, and even homemade granola bars to add a touch of natural sweetness.
- Salad Dressings: For a unique twist on your salads, whisk vegan honey into your homemade dressings. The balance of tangy and sweet flavors will elevate the overall taste and make your salads truly exceptional.
I hope you love this recipe! If you try it please leave a comment below and let me know what you think. Personally, I feel empowered recreating familiar foods, especially pantry staples. It allows me to eat the foods that I grew up with, I always have a substitute ingredient on hand so I can easily vegan-ise old recipes and I never have to feel like I’m missing out. Plus, most pantry substitutes are easy to make and much cheaper than expensive store bought alternatives. If you’d like to keep experimenting with vegan pantry essentials be sure to check out my ‘Whole Egg’ Mayo recipe or my 2 ingredient Sweetened Condensed Milk.
- 3 cups apple juice
- 1 cup sugar
- juice from half of a lemon
- Place all ingredients in a saucepan over medium heat and stir to combine. Dip a disposable skewer into the honey and mark the depth of the liquid on the skewer with a pencil or pen.
- When it begins to boil, reduce heat to low and simmer for about 20-30 mins until it’s reduced by half (you can check this by dipping the skewer back into the liquid and comparing it to the original marked depth). Note - the honey will still look really thin and watery while hot, but this is okay as long as it has reduced and is a slightly darker golden. Don’t wait until it looks thick or else it’ll harden to be apple toffee.
- Allow the honey to cool slightly then transfer into a glass jar while it’s still warm. It will thicken as it cools. Keeps in the pantry for up to 2 weeks, or in the refirgerator for 1 month.