Whether you use refined, white cane sugar or a natural sweetener in your cooking is a matter of personal preference, though many people avoid refined sugar because some of it is filtered using charred animal bones. Another reason is that it’s devoid of nutritional value and difficult for the body to metabolize. In cooking, I prefer to use an unrefined sugar, or naturally processed granulated cane sugar, which is sold under various brand names, including Sucanat or Florida Crystals.
These can be substituted in equal measure for white table sugar, although they are a little darker in color than white granulated sugar and have a slight molasses flavor. If the filtering issue is important to you but you want to use a white granulated sugar, you can use beet sugar, which is more expensive than cane sugar, but does not use bone char for filtration.
There are also some companies that make granulated cane sugar using other filtration methods. Since honey is not vegan, you’ll want a reliable substitute when a liquid sweetener is desired. Two good substitutes for honey are agave nectar and pure maple syrup, though maple will always add a bit of its distinct flavor to whatever you’re cooking. Both have a similar sweetness level as honey.