The Surprising Reason Some Say Avocados Aren't Vegan

Vegans avoid all animal products, including meat, dairy, eggs, and some other foods you may not even realize aren't vegan. Some vegans eat honey, while other stricter vegans do not. Vegan Life describes veganism as a lifestyle that eliminates cruelty to animals for food or clothing.  

A video making the rounds on social media and vegan channels is saying that avocados are not vegan. While avocados are not made from animals, they require bees to pollinate them, and it's not a natural process. Beehives are transported to and from avocado farms for pollination, known as migratory beekeeping (via Scientific American). According to CNN, these bees go from farm to farm, including farms for almonds, kiwis, butternut squash, and melons.

Vegan Life states more fruits and vegetable farms are using migratory beekeeping, and that includes onions, carrots, apples, broccoli, tomatoes, beans, and hundreds of other vegetables, fruits, and grains. If vegans avoided all foods from farms using migratory beekeeping, their food choices would be significantly reduced. Scientific American estimates that the United States would lose a third of its crops if commercial farmers stopped using migratory beekeeping.

What is migratory beekeeping?

According to Scientific American, every year in February, over 800,000 acres of almond trees need pollination from honeybees, but the flowers are only receptive to pollination for five days. Wind alone can't pollinate enough of the flowers to grow almonds. That's where migratory beekeeping comes in. Workers move the hives at night when the bees are all home and stack them on trucks with forklifts. It's the same for avocado farms, especially in California. 

Most trucks make it to their destination without crashing, where workers open the boxes full of hives after months of being closed up for hibernation. A typical box contains about a little over 19,000 European honeybees. In total, over 31 billion honeybees are used in central California alone to pollinate the almond trees, not including other areas in the country or other crops like avocados.

The bees spread viruses, fungi, and mites, because they're so close to one another and survive on just one crop's pollen and nectar. In the wild, they would gather their nourishment from a variety of plants. When they're back on the trucks in their closed up hives, the beekeepers give them pollen patties or sugar syrup, which is significantly less nutritious than their natural diet.

To ban avocados or not depends on your moral outlook on bees and your reasons for being vegan. Some vegans try to avoid any produce made with migratory beekeeping, especially avocados.