A video recently doing the rounds on Facebook included a segment from the BBC comedy quiz show QI. The video asks which of avocados, almonds, melon, kiwi or butternut squash are suitable for vegans. The answer, at least according to QI, is none of them.
Commercial farming of those vegetables, at least in some parts of the world, often involves migratory beekeeping. In places such as California, there are not enough local bees or other pollinating insects to pollinate the massive almond orchards. Bee hives are transported on the back of large trucks between farms — they might go from almond orchards in one part of the US then on to avocado orchards in another, and later to sunflower fields in time for summer.
Vegans avoid animal products. For strict vegans this means avoiding honey because of the exploitation of bees. That seems to imply that vegans should also avoid vegetables like avocados that involve exploiting bees in their production.
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Is that right? Should vegans forego their avocado on toast?
The revelation that avocados might not be “vegan-friendly” could seem to be a reductio ad absurdum of the ethical vegan argument. Some people might point to this and claim that those who are vegan but still consume avocados (or almonds and the like) are hypocrites. Alternatively, this sort of news might lead some people to throw up their hands at the impossibility of living a truly vegan diet, and so to give up. Pass me the foie gras someone …