Leave bees alone, and get your hands on this vegan honey

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I grew up dipping apples in to honey, so when I was told that someone had figured out how to make honey from apples, I felt the planets align (or maybe a wicked stomach grumble). If we can all agree to start using Bee Free Honee instead of enslaving bees, we’ll surely have a sweeter world.

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A happy accident discovered by Katie Sanchez (a trained pastry chef) while she was trying to make an apple jelly, this entrepreneur would go on to team up with Melissa Elmz to literally sell vegan gold! The two Minnesota women are proud to own and operate their business, while giving bees a break. Replacing honey one for one in recipes, the fruit based sweetener is organic, has no artificial colours, flavours, or preservations, and is chemical and corn syrup free.

Upon opening a bottle of the original honee, I discover it has a familiar consistency, smell, and taste to honey. Granted it’s been years since bee vomit graced my plate, I’m certain few honey fanatics would notice the difference. I’d added it to a smoothie, topped pancakes with it, and have licked it right from the spoon. I didn’t really miss honey going vegan, but I can honestly say I’d miss honee if this was my last time tasting it.

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Next, I experimented with some of Bee Free Honee’s flavoured offerings. The ancho variety is a combination of the original and ancho chile’s. It it aromatic, a bit more savoury, and has a mild burn that lends well to barbecue sauce and salad dressings. I’m addicted to it.

Last but not least, I sampled the slippery elm honee. Slippery Elm or Ulmus rubra (Latin for “red elm,” for its lovely reddish bark) is a beautiful, native North American elm tree. It’s touted as being a herbal, medicinal option that will soothe and coat sore throats when eaten by the spoonful, or added to tea. It’s got a pleasant earthiness to it, and may or may not be helping to chase my seasonal allergies away (thank goodness).

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Katie and Melissa were recently on Shark’s Tank, a show focused on funding entrepreneurs. Many of the “sharks” took an immediate interest in the brand, fighting for a piece of this successful, two-year old startup. The team ended up signing with Mark Cuban, Barbara Corcoran, and guest shark Chris Sacca for $210,000 in exchange for 30 percent equity (split evenly among all three investors). I’m excited to see where it takes the company! 

At the moment, their products are available on their website, and through some vegan retailers like V Word Market here in Toronto. Folks in Minnesota and across the US can find it on the shelves of Whole Foods, something I hope to see extended to Canada! I have spotted it behind the counter of progressive vegan coffee shops here and there, too. I have no doubt that with a little more publicity, this product will become a household staple for vegans. It might not make nooch fame, but it stands to be as popular as coconut whipped cream.

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