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Vegan Substitutes for Honey | Updated 2024

What are you looking for in a honey substitute? You want something vegan that tastes good and has the right consistency. This blog post will introduce you to vegan honey substitutes so that you can make a more informed decision while cooking and making sweet drinks!

honey with lemons on a pink background

What is honey, exactly?

Since most of us are not beekeepers or farmers, we probably don’t have much experience with where our food comes from exactly. This includes honey.

Bees make honey, which they store to have food to nourish them through the winter, just like our ancestors had canned and dried foods in the root cellar.

Worker bees fly to flower after flower, collecting nectar and bring it back to the hive. The nectar is transformed into a concentrated and stored in the comb.

Is honey vegan?

There is a lot of misinformation out there about whether or not honey is vegan. It’s important to know that most vegans don’t consider honey vegan because it takes advantage of the bee’s work.

Honeybee sitting on a yellow flower

The main issue is that honey is the food that keeps feeding the bees throughout the winter. Can you think about how excited you are to see the first blooms of spring? The bees are even more excited because that is their first fresh food source after a long winter.

Although bees are not killed blatantly killed to produce honey like animals used to produce meat, their work is exploited.

Are Honey Nut Cheerios Vegan?

Honey Nut Cheerios are not vegan. While they use more sugar than honey for sweetness, as you might guess, honey is still on the ingredient list.

Honey Nut Cheerios Ingredients: Whole Grain Oats, Sugar, Corn Starch, Honey, Brown Sugar Syrup, Salt, Tripotassium Phosphate, Canola and/or Sunflower Oil, Natural Almond Flavor. Vitamin E (mixed tocopherols) Added to Preserve Freshness.

However, original Cheerios do not have honey and might be a suitable option, especially since they are lower in sugar.

Vegan honey substitutes

You may be surprised to learn that there are some commercial products available that are designed to be sweet and taste like honey but are vegan.

A few vegan honey substitute brands to consider include:

What alternatives to honey are there?

The good news is that vegan honey substitutes exist! One of the most popular is agave nectar. For a more traditional flavor, you can also try maple syrup, molasses, brown rice syrup, or golden syrups like sorghum and barley malt. My personal favorites are maple syrup and agave.

Not all recipes looking for a vegan honey substitute need to be sweet.

If you want to make your own vegan “honey,” it’s not too difficult – all you need is sugar and water mixed in any ratio that suits your taste buds. The ingredients are inexpensive, so this is an easy option to avoid buying an alternative that might be more of a stretch to your grocery budget, such as pure maple syrup.

It’s important to note that some people choose to buy local honey because they believe it tastes better than the more processed commercial honey. It is possible that the treatment of the bees is better than that of commercial honey producers (1). This is where most, if not all, the debate around honey comes from.

Is local honey kinder to bees?

Some people feel that eating local honey is kinder to bees because the beekeeper is less likely to take so much honey from each hive that the bees are at less risk of starving. There is also the environmental benefit of honey not having to go on a long journey from around the world to store.

Again, this is a personal choice, and vegan or not; people should not be judged for their choices because we all start somewhere.

Is a vegan honey substitute healthier?

As a registered dietitian, I aim to empower people to live healthier, happier lives that are also kind to animals and the planet.

We love sweet things. So, while there are many options for alternatives to sweet honey, please keep in mind that they all contain added sugar.

Some added sugar is perfectly fine: food is not just fuel for our cells. It fuels our spirits and gives us an opportunity to celebrate life’s joys, including holidays, birthdays, and cultural traditions. It surprises people that I still enjoy and actually eat desserts, even though I am a registered dietitian.

Just don’t fall into the trap that because a sweetener is less processed, such as maple syrup, it is “healthier.” It is still sugar. Enjoy it within the overall scheme of a balanced, plant-based day.

Food safety

You might be seeking a honey alternative for a few additional reasons—those with an allergy to honey and young children. Let’s cover both!

Honey allergies

Although honey allergies are rare, they do exist, and this is one important reason a person might be seeking a honey alternative, even if they’re not a vegan. It is estimated that fewer than <0.001% of the general population has an allergy to honey (2).

Food safety: Honey and children

Vegan or not, giving honey to infants under the age of one is not recommended. There is a chance of botulism in the honey, and a baby with an immature immune system is more susceptible to getting sick (3). Cooking does not destroy botulism. You may have the association of botulism and dented canned goods; it’s the same thing.

Vegan honey substitutes such as agave and maple syrup do not have the risk of botulism as honey does.

Next steps

Are you ready to take the next step towards a more sustainable, plant-based lifestyle but don’t know where to start?

Check out my How to Go Vegan Slowly Post!

Vegan Honey Substitutes: Key Takeaways

If you’re a vegan or looking to have a lowered impact on the environment and fellow creatures, you’ll probably be ready for some vegan honey substitutes. Start with my favorites, Mellody Honey, maple syrup, and agave, and let me know how they taste!

Remember, vegan sweets and treats are still treats. Enjoy them, but be mindful of sugary food choices throughout the day and week.

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