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Vegans that I've met usually reject honey, because our consumption of honey requires the use of bees. However, many plants require insects for pollination, and those plants are still OK to eat in a vegan diet. What are the criteria based on which plant-based food is accepted or rejected in a vegan diet? Is the defining difference that bees collect honey to eat, or are there other factors?

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IMO, it's all about avoiding the necessity for any animals coming to harm. –  coleopterist Dec 13 '12 at 15:34
    
Is veganism supposed to be a branch of philosophy? –  Rex Kerr Dec 13 '12 at 16:22
    
@RexKerr I don't know the boundaries of philosophy. Does it cover ethics? Then it should be on-topic, because veganism is ethically motivated. –  gerrit Dec 13 '12 at 16:29
    
@gerrit - Well, I know that there are philosophers who have treated the ethical issues of eating animals (Peter Singer being the most famous contemporary example). But my impression is that vegans aren't acting based upon some philosophical work, but rather an intuition that eating animals is "wrong". So if you want to ask a philosophy question, it helps to identify philosophers who argue for veganism and ask about their views; otherwise, you are asking a question about contemporary human society, which is the domain of some other part of humanities and social science. –  Rex Kerr Dec 13 '12 at 16:33
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If "philosophy" is not to mean "whatever I am thinking about", then there has to be more than mere intuition. –  Rex Kerr Dec 13 '12 at 19:30
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2 Answers 2

As leancz said, there isn't one answer to this. An argument I heard from extreme vegans:

The difference in your example is that bees are often harmed when collecting honey, and also you "steal" the basis of their habitation as well as for new offspring, while relying on their pollination 1) is indispensable and 2) doesn't harm them but, on the contrary, it's essential to their survival (while the crop of the pollenised plant isn't).

Edit: I hereby present a somewhat suspicious link to Why honey is not vegan. Please don't hold me liable.

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The terms vegan and vegetarian have fairly loose definitions. There are vegetarians who eat fish and wear leather, vegans who go to extremes and vegans who are pragmatic. It is pretty much an individual choice about what one consumes and which term one applies to oneself. You could compare it to traits of democrats and republicans or empiricists and rationalists.

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