There’s been a lot of hype and a lot of news out recently when it comes to veganism and avocados. Avocados are pretty much a staple when it comes to vegan diets, but a lot of people have been stating that avocados are not actually vegan because they are grown with the assistance of bees, many of which are imported by farmers to help with the process.
This has raised a lot of eyebrows and has sparked a huge conversation, but as per usual, this creates a lot of misinformation, rumours, and twisted facts, so today, we aim to put these to rest, to address the truth, and to help you understand whether avocados are actually vegan-friendly.
What’s the Problem with Migratory Beekeeping?
Avocados require the use of bees to grow, no matter which way you’re looking at it. That’s just the natural process, so bees are going to be needed at some point or another. However, if you have an avocado tree in your backyard and bees naturally come to it and leave as they please, then this is how every single other fruit is grown.
The problem people have is typically with a process known as ‘migratory beekeeping’. Commercial beekeepers keep tens to thousands of hives on their property at any given time in order to earn from honey production.
Migratory beekeeping involves managing huge numbers of beehives and relying on the bees to pollinate a large number of crops across a large area. Farmers can then pay up to USD 200 per hive to nomadic beekeepers to pollinate their crops. A “pollination rental” is the term used to describe this transaction.
Migratory beekeepers regard their hives as livestock loaded into trucks and transported across the country to pollinate crops. For example, around 31 billion European honeybees are transported into California every February to pollinate trillions of almond blossoms.
These massive almond plantations are responsible for up to 80% of the world’s almond production.
These same bees are back on the road, pollinating blueberries, avocados, apples, and a variety of other crops across the United States. They do this all year round throughout the harvest seasons.
The same bees are then utilised to create honey once the crops have bloomed, ensuring that they are productive all year. This is a process and industry that is not restricted to the US but happens all over the world.
What’s more, beekeeping can be harmful to the bees in a big way. Beekeepers have been known to lose up to 70% of their hives due to a combination of fatal diseases. These conditions include things like colony collapse disorder (CCD), conditions caused by exposure to pesticides, and the effects of stressful travel conditions from being on trucks.
Bees also have a restricted diet, have to live and work through winter, and a lack of nectar compared to their honey productive counterparts can all massively raise the death rate for these hardworking bees.
Migratory beekeepers, like any other farmer, account for losses and plan ahead to expand their colonies by dividing healthy beehives in half. This is a good way to boost stock levels and occasionally hives year after year.
So, Is Migration Beekeeping Vegan?
As you can see, there are some clear problems with the beekeeping industry, and it’s true when you look at the facts in this way, avocados are not very vegan. But then, is any fruit and veg?
The truth is, the planet has evolved in a way that plants and animals live side-by-side and rely on each other. There’s literally nothing you can eat that won’t affect an animal in some way or another.
If you really wanted to narrow it down, you could say that a farmer going out to check his wheat to then step on a bug means the crops are now no longer vegan. It’s about saying where you draw the line.
In this case, you’ll need to think about where you’re getting your avocados from to ensure they are as vegan as possible. And there are plenty of places to think about.
You could have an avocado tree in your backyard, and this will be the most natural, most vegan way to get avocados. You could buy from local suppliers or ensure your fruits are sourced from polyculture farms or farmer’s markets.
Sure, some research is needed, but this comes back to how you’re making your personal choices and where you draw the line. At the end of the day, you are vegan because it’s a choice you want to make. How far you take this choice is up to you and nobody else’s business.
This article is written by George J. Newton, who is a lifestyle and health and wellbeing content writer for Write my dissertation and PhD Kingdom. He has a very patient wife of over ten years, who is his biggest supporter. He also contributes his work and expertise in wellbeing via his content to websites such as Next Coursework.