Here’s Why Avocados Might Not Actually Be Vegan-Friendly

published Oct 15, 2018
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(Image credit: Elizabeth Passarella)

Avocados, a seemingly innocuous creamy green fruit, have been the subject of a startling amount of controversy over the past several years. Avocados have been blamed for driving millennials to the brink of financial ruin, then became a health hazard with the proliferation of “avocado hand” injuries (caused by sloppy attempts to remove the pit with a chef’s knife). For avocado lovers, the hits just keep coming: This time, the noble avocado must contend with speculation that it’s not a vegan-friendly food after all.

Wait, Why Are Some Avocados Not Vegan-Friendly?

The process by which avocados are farmed has now come under scrutiny. As ABC News reports, a clip from the BBC panel show QI has surfaced, which suggests that avocados, as well as almonds, kiwi, and butternut squash, technically shouldn’t be designated vegan because of a system called “migratory beekeeping.” Commercial farms in states like California have to shuttle bees between farms in the backs of trucks because there are not enough native bees in the region to pollinate the plants on which they grow.

Why should this concern vegans? Many people who follow a vegan diet tend to stay away from honey, over concerns that bees are exploited in order to harvest it. So if the bees are being held in the backs of hot, dark trucks for long periods of time, no doubt tousled and mishandled along the way, vegans would have good reason to believe that the bees are being mistreated, and may want to be more conscious of where they buy their avocados from.

Should People Who Follow a Vegan Diet Give Up Avocados?

Will rumors that bees are being exploited on avocado farms be enough to force vegans disavow the fruit entirely, though? Probably not.

Trying to go through life, including every meal, avoiding any material or food item that doesn’t exploit a living creature is near-impossible, but the attempt is admirable. There will certainly be some hiccups and missteps along the way. Besides, not every farm in the country uses this practice, and it would be difficult to tell, at your average grocery store, where exactly the avocado in question came from.