Almost everybody likes avocados to some degree. They’re one of the most famous “millennial” foods, due to our generation’s obsession with avocado toast. They’re healthy, packed full of healthy fats, and are generally considered by nutritionists to be a superfood.
However, are avocados vegan?
Avocados are a natural plant and are, therefore, considered vegan. This argument typically comes from vegans who argue that avocados (and other fruits that require bees to pollinate them) aren’t vegan because bee farming is unethical.
I know, that sounded like a bit of a confusing answer… Personally, I think that avocados are 100% vegan-friendly. However, I also understand the argument against them. Below, I’ll break down both sides of the argument for you, so you can decide for yourself!
Myth or Truth: Avocados Aren’t Vegan?
I get the confusion… I really do.
I know you’re sitting here thinking, “But wait – WHY on earth would avocados be non-vegan? Aren’t they a natural plant? Isn’t the whole vegan diet about eating plant-based foods”
Apparently, not all vegans agree on this. Those vegans who don’t eat avocados have a relatively simple argument for NOT eating certain plant-based foods:
Avocados are a seasonal fruit. However, they’re grown and harvested year-round with the help of commercially-farmed bee colonies. Without these bee colonies to help fertilize their off-season crops, avocados would only be able to grow during a few select months of the year.
Many vegans are of the opinion that commercial bee farming is unethical. Not all beekeepers treat their bees with respect.
Their honey and beeswax are stolen for profit, leaving very little for the bees to live on. Sometimes, low-producing colonies are gassed and killed to be replaced with more efficient colonies.
At the end of the day, commercial beekeeping operations can be unethical. This is why vegans generally don’t consume bee products like honey or beeswax.
Following The Logic…
Don’t get me wrong, I completely understand this argument. If you walk into your local grocery store, you’ll see tons of fruits and vegetables for sale in the produce section that aren’t in season and wouldn’t naturally be grown or sold at this time of the year.
This is all thanks to modern greenhouse farming and the help of bee colonies that are “rented” out to farmers by commercial beekeepers.
Here’s the thing, though:
Avocados aren’t the only plant that relies on human-maintained bee colonies. Almonds, butternut squash, melons, kiwis, and more are also on the list.
If we follow the logic that we shouldn’t eat any foods that are grown using migratory bee colonies, then there would be very few foods left that we vegans could actually eat.
The reality is that we live in a traditionally non-vegan world. Most countries depend on fruits and vegetables that are grown in other countries using migrating bees. While we should certainly do our best to shop at local farms and buy organic, it’s not always possible.
Here’s another thing that’s worth noting:
Most people who try to “make” this argument are non-vegans who are obsessed with trying to point out everything “wrong” with the vegan lifestyle.
People like this make it their life goal to try to nitpick and break down everything about vegans, simply because they don’t like the fact that we’re different.
They don’t like the fact that vegans try to make meat-eaters feel guilty about eating meat every day, so they try to tear vegans down by pointing out every type of “micro-meat” or small animal process used in food production.
Arguments like this are neither helpful nor well-intentioned. They’re what I like to call “Devil’s advocate” questions that are asked more to poke fun at rather than to inform.
It would be like me telling a carnivore that his burger “isn’t really meat” because it contains plant-based citric acid or soy lecithin as a preservative.
Understanding The Need For Migratory Bees
At this point, you may be wondering why migratory bees are needed in the first place…
Traditionally, certain plants grow at certain times in certain regions of the world. Fruit and vegetable plants rely on the seasons, local bee populations, weather, and water levels to determine when they should start reproducing, fruiting, budding, etc.
There are a couple of problems with this:
- Today, bees are dying at an alarming rate.
- There’s a high demand for food.
There were once enough bees to pollinate every crop. Today, though, wild bees are going extinct. Thanks to data signals, pollution, and pesticides, bees have been dying off. To pollinate their crops, farmers are relying more and more on man-maintained migratory bee colonies.
Secondly, there’s a huge demand for fresh fruits and vegetables. As the average consumer gets farther and farther away from the source of their food, they rely more on international farming conglomerates.
For instance, people in the city don’t really have the ability to visit a local farmers’ market.
A few hundred years ago, most people knew how to grow their own fruits and vegetables. Today, though, people have trouble watering their store-bought flowers on time.
Simply put, without migratory bees, humans would be in a dire predicament. The price of fruits and vegetables would be so high that we could barely afford them. Then, we’d be forced to eat even more animals and artificial food.
Self-Pollinating Plant Research
One of the more interesting developments that I’ve been looking into is self-pollinating plants. These are fruiting plants that are genetically modified so that they no longer rely on bees.
Many plants are naturally self-pollinating, but scientists are trying to develop historically non-self-pollinating plants into self-pollinators.
Instead, they’re able to pollinate themselves.
However, this research and development are still in their preliminary phases. It will likely be several decades before humanity relies more on self-pollinating plants than bees. Still, it’s really cool to learn about!
Is Bee Farming Ethical?
It really depends on the farm itself. Some bee farms are more ethical than others.
Maintaining migratory bee farms typically always involves some form of animal cruelty. For example, frequent traveling, exposure to cold, and the stress of being on the road are very stressful for bee colonies.
Secondly, there’s the issue that some bee farms engage in the practice of killing their bee colonies to start over. Whenever they realize an issue with a bee colony, their first response is to try to “replace” the colony instead of trying to fix the issue causing the hive trouble.
That being said, I have no doubt that there are also ethically-driven bee farms out there that treat their honey bees with the respect that they deserve.
Where Do Avocados Come From?
Avocados are native to the Western Hemisphere of the world. They’re traditionally grown in the region ranging from Mexico to the Andes Mountains in South America. Thanks to modern farming, though, they’re also grown in certain warm, tropical regions of North America as well.
The Verdict – Are Avocados Vegan-Friendly?
Don’t let the tricky arguments get you twisted, avocados are very vegan-friendly! At the end of the day, nobody can avoid the fact that migratory bee colonies are used to produce their food.
Instead of trying to nitpick about it, why don’t we all work together to come up with a solution? Or better yet – learn to grow our own food!
Here’s another fun fact: avocados are sometimes used to make plant-based leather products. Check out my list of the best vegan handbag brands next to see some awesome purses made from plant-based leather!