As is well known, in some parts of the world, commercial-scale cultivation of products such as almonds and avocados is often associated with migratory beekeeping. The fact is that the efforts of local bees and other pollinating insects are not always enough to pollinate vast areas of gardens. So bee hives travel from farm to farm in big trucks, from almond orchards in one part of the country to avocado orchards in another, and then, in the summer, to sunflower fields.
Vegans exclude animal products from their diet. Strict vegans also eschew honey because it is the work of exploited bees, but it follows from this logic that vegans should also avoid eating foods like avocados and almonds.
Is this true? Should vegans skip their favorite avocado on their morning toast?
The fact that avocados may not be vegan creates a rather tense situation. Some opponents of the vegan image may point to this and argue that vegans who continue to eat avocados (or almonds, etc.) are hypocrites. And some vegans may even give up and give up because of the inability to live and eat exclusively vegan.
However, it is worth noting that this problem only occurs for some products that are commercially produced and dependent on migratory beekeeping. Somewhere this is a frequent occurrence, while in other regions such practices are quite rare. When you buy locally grown produce, you can be almost certain that it is vegan (although you can never be sure that the bee in the hive didn’t pollinate your crop), but of course, things are not so simple with imported avocados and almonds.
The other side of the issue is the personal opinion of consumers about the moral status of insects. As a result of commercial beekeeping, bees are often injured or killed, and the transport of bees for pollination of crops can hardly be beneficial to their health and life expectancy. But people disagree about whether bees are capable of feeling and experiencing suffering, whether they have self-awareness, and whether they have a desire to continue living.
Ultimately, your view of migratory beekeeping and the products it produces depends on your ethical motives for living a vegan lifestyle.
Some vegans strive to live and eat as ethically as possible, which means not using other living beings as a means to any end.
Others are guided by the notion that animals, including bees, are rights holders. According to this view, any violation of rights is wrong, and using bees as slaves is simply not ethically acceptable.
Many vegans choose not to eat meat or other animal products for the following reasons—they want to minimize the suffering and killing of animals. And here, too, the question arises of how migratory beekeeping contradicts this ethical argument. While the amount of suffering experienced by an individual bee is probably small, the total number of potentially exploited insects is off the charts (31 billion bees in California almond orchards alone).
Another (and perhaps more practical) ethical rationale that may underlie the decision to go vegan is the desire to reduce animal suffering and death, coupled with the environmental impact. And migratory beekeeping, meanwhile, can affect it negatively – for example, due to the spread of diseases and the impact on local bee populations.
Diet choices that reduce animal exploitation are valuable in any case—even if there is still some exploitation of some animals. When we choose our diet, we need to find a balance between the effort expended and the impact on our daily lives. The same methodology is needed in deciding how much we should donate to charity or how much effort we should put in to reduce our water, energy or carbon footprint.
One of the ethical theories about how resources should be allocated is based on the understanding of “enough”. In short, this is the idea that resources should be distributed in a way that is not absolutely equal and may not maximize happiness, but at least ensures that everyone has a basic minimum enough to live on.
Taking a similar “enough” approach to the ethics of avoiding animal products, the goal is not to be completely or maximally vegan, but to be vegan enough—that is, to make as much effort as possible to reduce harm to animals as far as possible. Guided by this point of view, some people may refuse to eat imported avocados, while others will find their personal ethical balance in another area of life.
Either way, recognizing that there are different perspectives on living a vegan lifestyle can empower more people to get interested and find themselves in it!