I was highly confused and found it to be very strange and odd that people were discussing figs as non-vegan. I will let you decide whether you think they are suitable for vegans or not because it is more personal opinion than anything else. Some vegan refuses to eat it and some not.
I loved eating figs in any forms dry or fresh. They are a good source of fibre and minerals such as calcium and potassium. When it comes to stocking up dry fruits, figs were definitely on top of my list. Although, eating them made me wonder how strange the figs look. Having looked at figs cavities I feel that I am eating some sort of weird-looking alien fruit which doesn’t look like of any dry fruits out there. But I liked the taste and the unique texture.
By nature, figs are non-animal so nothing wrong with that, therefore, vegan-friendly. But not everyone thinks that way. What could possibly be wrong?
The situation here goes back to nature – Pollination. The queen of the fig wasp will deposit her eggs and at the same time shed the pollen she got from the other fig. In fact, what she does is pollinating fig’s ovaries. Once the eggs have been deposited – by nature’s cycle, she dies and gets digested by the fig, providing “food” for the fig. When the eggs hatch the wasps will mate. The female wasps will collect the pollen whilst wingless male wasp’s job is to carve a path to the fig’s exterior for the female wasp to exit. The females will leave and pollinate another fig as a queen. The male wasps never leave the fruit, stay behind and die once they’ve freed all the female wasps.
Interesting to note, this applies to those figs species that requires to be pollinated by a female wasp. If the wasp by any reason could not deliver the pollen as nature intended them to do, the fig will drop and the wasp’s eggs will be destroyed.
So the question is, do we eat wasps? The answer to that Yes and No.
Certain kinds of figs, which rely on wasps for the pollination most likely will have the remainings of dead wasps in the fruit. Figs that are bought from local produce (not been commercially cultivated) will likely contain male wasp remains (the crunchy bits). As a result, most vegans will refuse to eat figs.
On the other hand, some figs are seedless which does not require pollination to produce fruit. This types of figs are commercially cultivated and will not contain wasps. At first, I assumed this may have been a result of recent cultivation practices. But upon further research, I came across material indicating that Figs were the first cultivated plant by humans over 11,000 years ago (12,000 if you’re reading this in the year 3000). Sources at the bottom of the page.
So…figs vegan-lovers, when it comes to figs there is no wrong or right answer. Whatever you decide it is the right decision for you. If you are grossed out by the idea of eating figs with wasps, make sure you know what types of figs you are buying local or commercially produced and that will keep you at ease. Another thing to note is that the fig wasps are tiny when compared to regular ones. Not sure if that actually helps!
Wasps life cycle is a completely natural process and no animals were exploited so figs are still considered vegan. Peta confirms it’s vegan. It’s only not-vegan if animals are exploited. In any case, this has grossed me out personally and I’ll be very conscious and make sure that I buy the seedless type.