My parents have a fig tree and, apart from the occasional worm or bug that might reside in the fig and then be eaten by us, those figs are vegan and grown with vegan methods (we basically just water the tree).

I was reading this article that explained how some vegetarians refused to eat them because of dead wasps inside. I thought that particular detail was silly, but not this part:

To prevent this, farmers separate male and female trees over great distances. Farmers also supply a controlled number of new wasps, often delivered in paper sacks, to dictate exactly how many females have access to a given plant. This means fewer wasps inside when the time comes to harvest.

So my question is: are commercial figs that you find in most stores usually made with this method where wasps are delivered in paper sacks to the farm? This would - in my opinion - rule out commercial figs as a vegan fruit.

  • Ruling out one of my favourite biscuits at the same time...
    – David S
    Apr 12, 2017 at 21:14
  • 2
    @DavidS I mean, it really depends on how deep you want to go into the rabbit hole. I often buy organic produce which probably uses animal manure. While I like being informed about these things, I won't go too out of my way and not eat vegan food that required some amount of animal input like organic produce, flowers, etc...
    – ecc
    Apr 13, 2017 at 7:53
  • No, I must admit I've not stopped eating Fig Rolls since I heard about this, and you could argue that organic produce is more likely to contain insects, you can only go so far, as you say. I don't walk down the street looking out for ants either... :)
    – David S
    Apr 13, 2017 at 12:22
  • Going too deep into a rabbit hole and pestering the rabbit probably isnt't vegan either :) May 3, 2017 at 23:19

3 Answers 3


There are two arguments against vegan consumption of wasp-pollinated figs:

  1. The generic vegan dislike of eating foods which have been produced with the assistance of animals. (Of course not all vegans will object to this, as there are many reasons for veganism.)
  2. The specific nature of (most varieties of) figs, which are pollinated by fig wasps who die inside the fig, so that every fig you eat contains a dead wasp (usually but not always digested by the fig's enzymes).

This is different than the general risk of produce containing bugs, because the fig wasp is essential to the nature of the fig, not an accidental or incidental inclusion.

(It is noteworthy that the fig wasp's life cycle requires those deaths, as the wasp eggs mature inside male figs; the occasional female wasp dying inside a female fig is what keeps the symbiotic relationship alive.)

This issue has been debated for years, with people arguing on both sides.

The workaround is to only eat self-pollinating varieties of figs, which do not require wasps for pollination.

Some links:


If it's not wasps it's something else. The vast majority of large farms use various bugs to eat/control worse more damaging bugs, pollinate crops, process dirt, eat unwanted vegetation, etc.

It really depends how far you want to take vegan. If you're not OK with a farmers releasing a bunch of bugs to control parasites or harmful bugs, you're ruling out most edible plants in your grocery store.

  • 5
    Not that I do not agree, but do you have any sources/links to the claim with vast majority of large farms using bugs as a means for controlling negative influences on their crops? I would be interested in reading mroe about that. Apr 28, 2017 at 23:50
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    To some people there is a difference between a farmer using ladybugs to eat aphids off tomato plants and fig-pollinating wasps which die inside the fig leaving wasp parts to be eaten with the fig.
    – arp
    Jan 3, 2019 at 20:00

Found this on wikipedia:

Persistent (or common) figs have all female flowers that do not need pollination for fruiting; the fruit can develop through parthenocarpic means.

From my vegan standpoint, eating a fig is perfectly fine. The fruit is there, I did not cause the harm to the wasp myself. Now the problem arises when I plant these specific fig trees, so I can eat the figs knowing they will 'kill' many wasps. I wouldn't do this. However, it seems that the figs that are used for cultivating/human consumption do not need pollination and therefore wasps to produce fruits. Therefore the ethical issue from above is not present.

  • 1
    Other answers (to this and other questions) seem to talk as if the ones usually cultivated are the wasp kind. More clarification/references needed from somebody about which figs are which.
    – A. B.
    May 12, 2021 at 3:01

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