mercoledì, febbraio 07, 2007

A Waste of Honey

I like to think, as everyone does, that I'm quite a one for living and let living. But I'll confess to my shackles shooting up when some vegans get prancy about honey products. Perhaps it's my disproportionate love of honey that makes me disproportionately angry over the issue, but I know for a fact - because I know a bunch of vegans who eat honey - that there's some debate over whether or not bee products can be part of a real vegan diet. Yet the most recent issue of Vegetarian Times, that I subscribe to for the great recipes and because I only like eating meat a couple times a week, seems to be pandering to certain elements of its vegan readership by unquestioningly banishing honey from vegan recipes or a vegan diet.

I'm reminded of those heady, exploratory days in highschool and beyond when gay friends would get prancy about the sexual and emotional practices of bisexuals. "Choose already, make up your mind," was a common snark, which never seemed to come from the lips of breeders, who were more apt to say things like "keeping your options open, are you?" - much more à propos in a free society.

So - do vegans have to "choose, to make up their mind" to avoid anything to do with animals altogether? What is, after all, being vegan? Does one of the 'vegan societies' get to decide? To be genuine, must a vegan opt out of the cycle of plant and animal life that would be impossible to sustain without pollinating insects like lovely, lovely honeybees, who when they live in apiaries may have the fruit of their labour stolen but who are also sustained by their human collaborators? Humans who build them houses, keep them alive through long winters with sugar-water baths and climate controls, protect them from the bears and rodents that would break their hive apart, and drive them around the region to the areas with the best flowers at that moment in time?

I don't think it fits in with any reasonable conception of ethical eating, supposedly central to the vegan movement, to choose to buy stevia or other sweeteners that were farmed and processed god knows where, god knows how by god knows who - to put naive levels of trust in 'fair-trade' labels that promise the labour and production methods behind sweeteners are okay by the standards of whatever country tonnes of carbon dioxide has been burned to import them from - instead of, I don't know, choosing to TAKE ADVANTAGE OF THE HONEYBEE'S INARGUABLE AND INARGUABLY BEAUTIFUL INSTINCT TO MAKE TOO MUCH FUCKING HONEY FOR ITS OWN HIVE. See, I'm getting angry now.

I don't think I get angry about it only because I love honey so very, very much, and think it's such a great thing for everybody to eat in great, gulping, unpasteurized mouthfuls. I think part of the anger is over a huge fucking disconnect between people's diets and their knowledge of where the food in it comes from, which is really baffling in someone who chooses a vegan and supposedly ethical lifestyle. It seems to me such people can't consider man's special relationship with the bee and see the element of collaboration there because they're too fucking ignorant of how honey can be harvested. That such people, who go for other sweeteners on principal, are the prey (as much as all the people who flock to McDick's for mighty slabs of processed meat) of international food companies who want to sell imported, processed products with higher profit margins than honey, which goes quite directly from the local hive to my local tummy just about anywhere flowers bloom. There are apiaries in the middle of an urban shithole like Paris, for god's sake. There are apiaries dizzyingly high up north in Canada.

It's also part of the way Vegetarian Times and sites like Ideal Bite have been disturbing me in terms of their galloping commercialism. They sell ready-made veggie and vegan products hard. Instead of just featuring advertising, they plug specific products in the text of articles with the hyper-capitalist devotion of a magazine like Maxim. Over-priced, over-processed, over-travelled products. So tangentially I get infuriated by the idea that my honey-gorging habits can be frowned on by a group of people who sustain that sort of galloping commercialism. I do believe a vegan diet can be a sustainable, healthy one that takes full advantage of ethical, local, CO2 conscious, labour-conscious unprocessed food shopping, but saying honey can't possibly be part of a 'real' vegan diet is a fucking stupid way to do that.

14 commenti:

Melbine ha detto...

Wow, I had no idea that honey was possibly frowned upon by some vegans! You make a really good argument Mistress...and I think that people just get way too caught up in labels. Sugarplum will be able to answer this much better than me, but I remember her saying that she used to get looks once people found out she ate a vegan diet but was standing there in her leather scooter jacket. Everyone's put on this planet to live their lives the best way they see fit and I just HATE when other people try to make you wear their shoes all the time. I'm obviously not talking about unethical, malicious people (because they shouldn't be living their lives the way THEY see fit), but the average, good-hearted person. You know?

Lady ha detto...

mmm honey. by the way, i just today finished that delightful honey you got me... was it for my birthday? damn - i made that one last as long as i humanly could!! mmmm...

Sugarplum ha detto...

I agree with you completely, Mistress. The argument against eating honey is that some bees sometimes get killed - how and when? Sounds a bit wishy washy to me. But I'm not a typical vegan. I came at it from an environmentalist's point of view thinking that you should eat the food that is grown around you - and I never liked eating meat or eggs and dairy makes me sick. Melbine brought up the concept of me wearing leather. I know an animal died for it but I also know that if I abandon my jacket in a field it will no longer exist in 50 years. You can't say that about other items of clothing that have been made to replace leather.

In anything I've ever seen or read about bee keeping, the bee keeper has a great deal of affection for the bees and treats them well. I don't want any bees to be killed so that I can eat the fruit of their labour but as you say - that's not how it goes. And you're supporting local businesses as long as you buy locally. As far as I'm concerned that is much better than using white sugar or stevia that is grown and processed who knows where. I'm all over honey and maple syrop. Yum.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Lady, you can get more at Honey World at the St. Lawrence market, though I'd advise you to take the free testing and explore some other varieties a bit.

Mel, I think it's pretty crazy too. There are lots of dimensions to every moral question that get clearer the more one thinks - for example as Sugar says there are good reasons why wearing cow is much better than wearing PVC or other such replacements, no matter what someone's knee jerk reaction is to seeing a vegan wearing leather - but some people go straight from one sort of stupid vapid consumerism to another depending on the fashion of the day, and then get self-righteous about it.

Sugar, I'd always sort of hoped you're a typical vegan because you rock.

Sugarplum ha detto...

I think the most important thing is to buy things because you need them not because they're on special or they were made in a certain way by a certain group etc. Our biggest problem in North America is commercialism. The dude is renting a room in North Bay from a woman who is a good example of all that is wrong with our society. She has three of everything. Blenders, TVs, everything. She pushed a button on her dishwasher and nothing happened. So she bought a new dishwasher. She told one of the guys staying there that she was getting a new dishwasher and he fixed the problem in 30 seconds. The dude was screwing around with the TV trying to get it to play our DVD and he turned it to black and white. Her response - "Damn. The tv's broken." Once again the problem was fixed in 30 seconds. Just a matter of figuring out what wasn't right. But her first reaction was to call it broken and think about replacing it. No thought to where the old perfectly fine tv and dishwasher and whatever else she is replacing is going. That's the problem with North America. Not that people are eating honey and some bees sometimes may get accidentally hurt. I really wanted to slap that bitch when she said that and get self-righteous on her ass.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

I bet you did, but then she was a perfectly functioning member of consumer society responding to years and years of training to have those responses. The more I work in the advertising industry the less I think it's good at selling anything in particular and the more I think it's good at selling everything in general.

Sugarplum ha detto...

Yes, and there is so much available credit there is no reason not to replace every appliance small or large in your house every 2 years.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Well - no immediately obviously reason.

By the way, on Friday I'm clearing my credit burden completely! That will be the first time since before university!

Sugarplum ha detto...

Good for you! That is huge. There is something so dark and gloomy about owing a great deal of money and paying incredible interest on it.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

I'm pretty excited, for sure - mostly by the prospect of money possibly accumulating somewhat instead of being shovelled like so much coal into the raging, inefficient furnace that is the Airmiles Mastercard.

Melbine ha detto...

Congrats on the lack of credit debt Mistress! As a house and car owner, we obviously have a long way to go before that happens. But we're on our way...

There are definitely people that think all kinds of things need to be replaced regularly. But, there is also the reality that lots of manufacturers make things of pretty low quality - exactly so that it has to be replaced more frequently. Argh.

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Yeah - I think it's always been a case of having to spend a little more for something a little better. Too bad service warranties are almost always crap in Canada no matter who you buy from. That's what we get with too many arts grads and not enough professional training.

Melbine ha detto...

'Tis true what they say - you get what you pay for! Maybe my second career will be fixing appliances. :) Remember that Cosby show episode when Sondra's friends came over to fix their bathroom and Heathcliff harassed them the whole time b/c they were arts grads? And they were like, hey man, it pays a hell of a lot better than any other job prospect!

Mistress La Spliffe ha detto...

Yeah, it pays a lot better and on top of that I bet it would be a fuckload less soul destroying than working in marketing.