You may have heard that vegans should avoid figs, but why is this? Well, it all has to do with a certain type of wasp that lays its eggs in figs.
A female wasp will enter the flowering structure of the fig via a narrow passage that is so tight it will cause her wings to be ripped off, thus rendering her unable to leave. So far, so terrifying. If the fig is a female then the wasp will pollinate it but cannot lay her eggs inside. If, on the other hand, the fig is male, she can successfully lay her eggs. However, she will still die.
The larvae from the male figs tunnel out, carrying the fig pollen which the next generation of wasps will then take to female figs. So the two species help each other survive, but the wasp still dies.
Is this a problem for vegans, or for that matter, squeamish carnivores? The wasp is completely digested by the fig using an enzyme called ficin, so by the time you eat a fig you can be assured any crunchy bits are fig seeds, not wasp carcasses.
This is a process that occurs naturally and neither species would survive without it. Some would consider eating almonds that are pollinated by captive bees too cruel, yet in this process, the wasps are not subjected to any cruelty. They are just very lovingly digested by their host.
So now you know far too much about figs and wasps. Don’t have nightmares.