A wooden spoon pouring maple syrup into a jar.

Maple syrup & other vegan honey alternatives

Have you been wondering, ‘Is honey vegan?

Well, you may, or may not, know this, but it’s a question that’s attracted widespread discussion. As we all know, veganism involves not eating animal products and any food that’s produced by animals, e.g. eggs.

But the waters can become a little muddied when it comes to applying this principle to insects, i.e. bees, because insects are almost always automatically classed as falling into the veganism animal category. However, not everybody realises this.1

Can vegans eat honey?

Some vegans choose to eat honey and some choose not to eat honey, for reasons, such as the way bees are commercially farmed and the fact commercial honey farming may harm the health of bees.2

With that in mind, we’ve dedicated this article to sharing some vegan honey alternatives with you, starting with agave.

5 honey substitutes


1. Agave


What is it?


It’s a sweet brown liquid that comes the sap of the agave plant, which is a cactus plant. Agave nectar’s around one and-a-half times sweeter than sugar .

How is it made?


By extracting the sap from the plant and filtering and heating it to create a concentrate.

How do you eat it?

You can drizzle agave syrup on to porridge or cakes, use it to sweeten hot drinks or bake with it.3

Try: The Groovy Food Company Premium Agave Nectar Rich & Dark 250ml (£3.69)

2. Maple syrup


What is it?


Maple syrup is the spring sap from the maple tree. It contains more than 60% sucrose and tastes very similar to honey.

How is it made?


The syrup is made by reducing the sap down, which mainly involves boiling it.

How do you eat it?

Maple syrup can be drizzled over sweet or savoury foods, such as pancakes, waffles, bacon and eggs, or added to stews and desserts.4

Try: Sweet Freedom Fruit Syrup Original 320g (£3.59)

3. Molasses


What are they?

Molasses are basically treacle or black treacle.5 While they don’t contain sugar, they’re renowned for containing other vitamins and minerals.

How are they made?

They’re essentially what’s left over after cane sugar has been boiled to produce sugar and most of the sugar has been extracted.6

How do you eat them?

They’re a really popular baking ingredient, and can often be found in rich sticky fruit cakes, toffee and gingerbread.7

Try: Holland & Barrett Molasses 454g (£1.99)

4. Malt extract


What is it?

Malt extract is made from barley grains and water and is available as liquid malt extract and dried malt extract.8 It’s less sweeter tasting than sugar or golden syrup.9

How is it made?

By grinding up malted barley and combining it with water. During a series of time and temperature changes, the starch is converted into maltose and other simple sugars.10

How do you eat it?

You can spread it on bread or toast, add it to cereals or use it for cooking and baking instead of using sugar.11

Try: Holland & Barrett Malt Extract 454g (£3.19

5. Inulin syrup


What is it?

Inulin is a type of fermented fibre that’s found in the roots of many foods, such as onions, garlic and artichokes. It’s also a type of oligosaccharide, called a fructan, which are essentially a chain of sugar molecules.12

How is it made?

The process for making inulin is similar to the process of extracting sugar from sugar beets. The beets of chicory roots are harvested, sliced and washed. The inulin is then extracted by using hot water diffusion. It’s then purified and dried.13

How do you eat it?

Add it to hot and cold drinks and smoothies, bake with it and sprinkle it on cereals and porridge.14

Try: Holland & Barrett Troo Chocolate Inulin Syrup 227g (£4.99)

Vegan honey alternatives are a whole new world in themselves. All of them are made slightly differently, some are sweeter than others, and some are lighter and darker than others.

The five products we’ve focused on above are just a handful of the honey substitutes that are available; there are so many more out there. We hope you enjoy trying out the various different options and finding your favourite non-honey fix.

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Last Updated: 23rd September 2020 Sources: 1 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-honey-vegan#:~:text=Why%20most%20vegans%20don't,include%20honey%20in%20their%20diet. 2 https://www.healthline.com/nutrition/is-honey-vegan#:~:text=Why%20most%20vegans%20don't,include%20honey%20in%20their%20diet. 3 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/howto/guide/sugar-substitues-agave 4 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/maple-syrup-glossary 5 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/molasses-glossary 6 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/molasses-glossary 7 https://www.bbcgoodfood.com/glossary/molasses-glossary 8 https://www.almostoffgrid.com/blogs/almost-off-grid/what-is-malt-extract 9 https://cerealandmalt.com/the-processing-and-uses-of-barley-malt-extract/ 10 https://cerealandmalt.com/the-processing-and-uses-of-barley-malt-extract/ 11 /shop/product/holland-barrett-malt-extract-60004303 12 https://www.verywellhealth.com/the-health-benefits-of-inulin-4587258 13 https://academic.oup.com/jn/article/129/7/1402S/4722577 14 https://wildlyorganic.com/blogs/recipes/10-ways-to-use-inulin-everyday