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So, Are Avocados Actually Vegan?

It’s the debate on everyone’s lips – are avocados actually vegan? It seems to me a bit extreme. 

It all started with T.V. presenter Sandy Toksvig on her comedy show, QI, claiming that butternut squash, almonds, kiwis and avocados are NOT vegan. For the same reason as honey, these foods can’t exist without bees and these bees, as claimed by Toksvig are used in “an unnatural way… placed on the back of trucks and taken very long distances across the country”.

I can understand that for the seriously strict vegans out there, the transportation of bees across long distances can be seen as cruel and unnatural. But surely this means that many other fruits and vegetables are out of bounds too, right?

Take a melon for example. Like the avocado, it requires a large quantity of bees for pollination. Does that mean that they’re not vegan either? If you weren’t to eat avocados, would you also not eat melons?

After speaking to a few vegan friends, it became clear to me that the crux of the debate is to do with the environment. They said they wouldn’t eat avocados because of the extortionate amount of air miles – therefore putting melons in the same category – it takes to import them from places such as Mexico and the Caribbean. So, air miles, as much as migratory bee keeping, seems to be an important factor. 

Even PETA’s Executive Vice President, Tracy Reiman, thinks that vegans would have the same problem avoiding foods pollinated by migratory bees than they would with driving on roads containing animal products such as glycerin. Would it not be better to eat plant products, including avocados, and save two hundred animals’ lives each year than worry about the transportation of bees? Because realistically, it will be rare to find mass-produced plant products that haven’t been pollinated in large-scale production systems.

People are vegan for many different reasons, but I do not think mass bee migration is one. Not everyone is lucky enough to have their own vegetable patch, or is able to buy naturally pollinated products at their local market. It’s just not practical and until something changes, vegans are going to struggle with this problem. 

Mamie Colfox

Manchester '19

3rd year Classical Studies student at the University of Manchester, hoping to pursue a career in freelance/creative writing. Follow my blog mamiecolfox.com for some funny family stories.
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