In English, a vegetarian who eats eggs and dairy products can be referred to as an ovo-lacto vegetarian. By the same token, could a person who eats honey but is otherwise vegan be meaningfully called a mell-vegan?

  • 3
    Maybe mellivegan by analogy from mellifluous. Maybe too easy to confuse with millivegan. In any case, you can call anybody anything. The onus will simply be on you to define the term in any context in which you use it (unless/until it takes off). – MetaEd Nov 27 '12 at 14:49
  • 1
    Do you mean those who eat no animal products -beyond- honey? I can't find any precedent for that term. Also it doesn't sound right. 'mello-vegan'? But anyway, no one will know what you mean. – Mitch Nov 27 '12 at 14:50
  • 2
    @MετάEd is a millivegan one thousandth of a vegan? :) – Mark Beadles Nov 27 '12 at 15:22
  • 1
    @MarkBeadles Exactly! Maybe a unit of measurement for compassion? – MetaEd Nov 27 '12 at 15:55
  • 3
    @MarkBeadles So I guess a millivegan is someone who eats meat 99.9% of the time, but .1% of the time refuses to do so. "Mellovegan" sounds to me like a vegan who doesn't get excited about the subject. – Jay Nov 27 '12 at 16:00

In Latin, 'honey' was mel, with the oblique stem of melli-. In English we generally use the oblique stem for Latin and Greek words, so the correct prefix would be melli-.

(Note: the genus of Honeyeater birds are the Meliphagidae, which unlike many biological names is from the Greek: meli- + phag-. Note the single l in the Greek form.)


Currently there is no consensus of how to call a "vegan who also eats honey", but following the list of prefixes and the occasional forum post, mellivegan seems to be more common than other options.

Using the strict definition of vegan from when the term was coined in 1944, a person who eats honey isn't a vegan. This is different from the term ovo-lacto vegetarian because vegetarians are defined as "abstaining from the consumption of meat and by-products of animal slaughter", neither of which explicitly excludes eggs and milk. So an ovo-lacto vegetarian is still a true vegetarian, whereas a mellivegan isn't a vegan.


However, definitions change and the consumption of honey is debated within the vegan community, so a mellivegan can be considered a vegan.

  • 1
    A good friend of mine (a vegan) told me that, in the vegan community, honey is "a gray area." To eat (or not eat) honey might depend on your motivation for choosing a vegan lifestyle. – J.R. Nov 27 '12 at 15:36
  • 2
    I think this answer relies too much on "strict definitions" which I believe are not nearly so strict as the answer implies. – MetaEd Nov 27 '12 at 15:57
  • Hmm, I'd think that eating honey would be comparable to drinking milk: both are products produced by animals, but which do not require killing the animal to consume them. But I'm not a vegan and I don't think I've ever known a vegan (as opposed to a vegetarian), so maybe I'm just missing the point of their thinking. – Jay Nov 27 '12 at 16:02
  • @J.R. Thanks for the comment. I'm not a vegan so I wasn't aware of the debate. I added that to my answer. – joulesm Nov 27 '12 at 16:12
  • @MετάEd I added clarification that the "strict definition" was taken from history and that definitions change. – joulesm Nov 27 '12 at 16:15

You could call a honey-eating vegan a mellivorous vegans, since mellivorous exactly means honey-eating.

But wouldn’t honey-eating (or non–honey-eating) be good enough? I ask because I don’t think looking for a fancy word here is necessarily a good idea. You never want to confuse people on things like this, and fancy words will always confuse (some) people.

For example, I know non-mycophagous vegetarians, but they avoid describing themselves as such for fear of being fed food with (intentional) fungus in it.

Similarly, although most vegetarians will eat cheese only if is vegetarian cheese, since normally cheese is made with animal-derived rennet, it would not be helpful to invent a specialized technical term for this — and indeed might even be counterproductive.

It’s like how you never use fancy words to describe food allergies, for fear of feeding someone something one mustn’t. Best just to say what the deal is using simple words that everybody can understand without a classical dictionary on hand.

  • I thought cheese was ok for vegetarians, but just not for vegans. – joulesm Nov 28 '12 at 10:30
  • 1
    @joulesm That depends on the cheese. Vegans do not eat anything that comes from an animal, no matter how cruelly or kindly derived. Vegetarians do not eat cheese made with rennet that derives from ground-up cow stomachs — for what I should hope are obvious reasons. See the difference? There are vegetarian cheeses, because it doesn’t have to be made with cow guts. – tchrist Nov 28 '12 at 20:11

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.