Avocado and almond milk are two of the biggest ingredients of the vegan diet. However, the British TV show QI, produced by the BBC, has claimed that almond, avocado, kiwi, squash and a whole host of other ingredients are not strictly vegan because of the way they are produced.
The, rather pedantic argument presented on the show refers to the use of migratory beekeeping and veganism through the point of view of not consuming anything produced by animals or animal labor. The show is suggesting a whole range of ingredients would not be available without the animal labor involved with migratory beekeeping.
Migratory beekeeping is simply the process of producers transporting large colonies of honey bees to different locations to help pollinate crops. Those who argue against the process suggest that bees are harmed, and in some cases killed, as they are transferred in hot, dark trucks for long periods of time, often across country which takes them away from their natural surrounding and mixes them with different colonies. The process is also criticised because the bees in this type of pollination gather nectar from just one type of crop, foregoing the diverse diet they need to prosper.
An article on migratory beekeeping in Scientific American explained the almond and honey bee problem very well, "If each of the 810,000 acres of almond trees in California receives two hives—the recommended minimum—then the orchards host 1,620,000 hives total each February. About 400,000 of those colonies are from California; the remaining 1,220,000 come from other states. Depending on their size, tractor–trailers can fit between 200 and 400 colonies, so transporting all those out-of-state bees to California would require between 3,050 and 6,100 trucks."
So is it time to stop drinking your almond milk lattes?
For vegans that are worried, PETA executive vice president Tracy Reiman told The Washington Post, "Going vegan is about making kind choices that bring about positive change. Average shoppers can’t avoid produce that involved migratory beekeeping any more than they can avoid driving on asphalt, which has animal ingredients — but they can save nearly 200 animals’ lives every year by choosing plant-based foods instead of meat, eggs, and dairy ‘products’. "
Although it's truly idealist to expect no cruelty from food production, there are a number of papers suggesting the humble honeybee's load could be lightened if native colonies of bees are encouraged to prosper in States across America. The European Honeybee was introduced by colonists to the States but there are thousands of species of native bees across the country, each with its own unique way of polinnating plants, some that even polinnate better than Honeybees - they just don't produce that sweet, sweet honey. Encouraging other species to lessen the load would also diversify the number of polinnaters farmers have around while reducing the constant threat of what a large honeybee collapse would mean for food production. It's a huge risk to rely on one species of insect for such a large amount of food pollination and large hives of native bees would lessen this. It would also combat the need for the bees-without-borders approach currently employed for much of our food production.