Friday, May 14, 2010

Saving the Honey Bees... by eating their honey???

I have to apologize to you, our wonderful readers. I am afraid this blog has become more about me than trying to help you. Not that that was my intention - it just turns out I don't know nearly as much as I thought I did! This blog is becoming a way to understand what I really feel about veganism and animal rights. I am fully committed, but writing is forcing me to really be able to back up what I say! In doing so, it's strengthening my resolve to live as cruelty-free as possible.

Honey isn't vegan. Don't argue with me; it's not. When I became vegan, I didn't eliminate honey. I didn't really see it as cruelty; I honestly didn't care much, particularly because there was not a large amount of honey in my diet anyways. Until another veg friend said "look, either you're vegan or you're not". So, bye bye honey!

Since then, I've agreed that honey isn't vegan. I've researched the reasons why - without going into a lot of detail that you are able to search for yourself, basically they treat the bees like crap and steal their honey. It's unnatural and un-vegan.

So tonight I get a "Save the Honey Bees!" email from an online parenting group. Yeah! Someone sticking up for animal rights, awesome! Or, so I thought. Okay, so maybe that isn't fair; she has good intentions. Here is the email:

"The second grade class at (XXXX)  Elementary is studying the plight of the honey bee and colony collapse disorder as one of the class science projects this year.

As I have learned from my second grader, there is a world wide crisis with the honey bees.  We rely on honey bees for one-third of our food supply, but over the last three years, more than one in three colonies has died in the United States alone.  One cause of these losses is an alarming phenomenon called Colony Collapse Disorder, or “CCD.” When a hive experiences CCD, the honey bees mysteriously desert their hive and die. CCD symptoms have been reported by more than thirty-five states across the U.S. and in many other countries.
How can you help? Our local Market has graciously offered to help our second grade class make our community aware of the honey bee crisis.  The Market's store manager, (XXXXXXX), has agreed to stock Haagen-Dazs Vanilla Honey Bean Ice Cream at the store."

Okay - here is the problem. There is A  LOT of research that shows that malnutrition is a leading, even whole, cause of CCD. The reason for the malnutrition? Humans are stealing their honey and feeding them HIGH FRUSTOSE CORN SYRUP and SUGAR WATER. What the heck?! Humm, wonder why they're all dying off?? 

My first instinct was to write a response as to why this was a bad idea; by purchasing a product containing honey, we're contributing to the problem. So I wrote the nicely worded email with scathing undertones ("that's the stupidest idea ever; no thanks, I think I'll avoid the honey laced baby cow food"), and as my finger hovered above the enter key, ready to hit send, I had to think - where is this going to go? I'll get backlash for sure. And I don't have ALL my facts; I'm not a scientist, and not sure I want to spend more than the half hour I already spent researching  this. And truthfully? I'm not sure I want to be the crazy vegan again. So maybe I am a wuss, maybe I'm letting the animals down by not speaking up. Maybe it's self preservation and a maintenance of sanity. 

So I decided against sending any response (at least right now). As one of my best friends says, "when in doubt, there is no doubt". And now I am freaking frustrated! My frustration is that people don't think. They are not stupid, but lazy.  They react on emotion. They want to help, but are too lazy to actually do so and then buy into commercialism disguised as helpfulness. 

Ugh. It's hard being the moral center of the universe.  

So, how does this relate to kids? That sometimes, because I am a mom, I have to keep my mouth shut. I have to choose my battles; growing chickens in the classroom? What about the negligent care of the hermit crabs? Dissection? Animal shows? Petting zoos? Pony rides? Zoo trips? When you are a parent, you teach your children how to behave in the world. You demonstrate proper etiquette and respect - even (and especially) when you disagree. So, sometimes I chose to remain silent. Sometimes, I chose to speak up. But, as I teach my kids, it's more important to lead by example. If I am (further) labeled the "crazy vegan mom", I may not get the opportunity to gently influence people in the future. That's why, when dealing with other parents, I chose to keep my mouth shut - sometimes. I'm still thinking about it! 

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