The following is reproduced from Issue Three of The Vegan News (May 1945), written by Donald Watson.
At the committee meeting the question of the use of honey called for special consideration and the decision to eliminate it from the vegan diet will, in the mind of some readers, call for justification. Those of us who eliminated dairy products before honey met with considerable criticism from people who, perhaps in defence of their own milk drinking, contended that the production of honey entailed exportation "far worse" than that associated with the production of dairy produce, for the simple reason that it concerns inconceivable numbers of creatures.
Whether the exploitation is worse or not does not affect the fact that honey is an animal product (coming from the stomach of the bee), and that exploitation is involved in its production for human use. This was proved by the very concise reply received by a member who wrote to Mr. A.W. Gale, proprietor of Honeybee Honey asking whether the honey sold under this name was in excess of the bees' requirements:
In reply to your letter of the 18th inst., we beg to inform you that we exploit our bees all we know how.
The Honey Producers' Association replied to similar letter of enquiry stating that they could not assist the writer in obtaining honey that was surplus to the bees’ requirements. As we all know, the honey is taken from the bees and is substituted in winter by white sugar and candy. It would seem reasonable to suppose that the resultant malnutrition is the prime cause the widespread disease among bees. Whether honey from diseased bees is the wonderful food it is claimed to be seems open to question.
Consideration was given to the suggestion that humanely disposed vegans might keep their own bees and take only the surplus honey, thus reducing the exploitation, but it was argued that to permit the use of honey produced under such improved conditions would leave it difficult to argue against the use of milk produced under better conditions. The annual consumption of English honey is only about one tenth of a pound per head, therefore its elimination cannot be a serious deprivation, and certainly it cannot imperil health. The committee agreed, therefore, that by eliminating honey Veganism would gain by the greater consistency of its constitution.