What’s worse than finding a worm in your apple? Finding half a worm. Also: climate change. Or biodiversity loss. Resource scarcity. The real question, of course, is whether individuals are willing to make small changes to help protect the planet.

Would you push past the “ick” factor of a milkshake made of crickets if you knew it would lead to a more sustainable diet? What if you couldn’t taste the difference between processed insect protein and meat? Would you be willing to make other changes to your diet and behaviour in order to live more sustainably?

In fact, perhaps we should all make the switch to wormburgers? Or locust tempura? Would it be the environmentally responsible thing to do, given that almost 15% of global greenhouse emissions come from cows farting (we’re only half-joking; methane emissions from livestock, as well as associated land clearance and fertiliser use, contributes more to global warming than all the cars, trucks, trains, planes, and ships in the world combined).

It’s not just about eating insects. Would you be willing to change your toothpaste in order to help tackle the problem of plastics in the ocean? Would you eat less meat? Would you stop using your car and walk or take the bike for short journeys? What sort of changes to your daily life would you be open to if it meant a more sustainable society?

On 23 May, Debating Europe is co-hosting an event in Brussels on citizens as drivers for sustainable change. The event (Towards Greener Cities: Citizens as Drivers for Change), in partnership with Friends of Europe and Green Week 2018, will bring together citizens, civil society, and policymakers to discuss environmental sustainability. You can follow the event online using the hashtag #EUGreenWeek.

What do our readers think? We had a comment sent in from Bogdan, who has actually tried chowing down on some crunchy arthropods. He argues that eating insects tastes “not bad at all”, and would be much more sustainable for the planet:

Image of a citizenWe can actually replace meat with insects. It’s easier and the protein content is similar to the beef. I tried some insects and they are not bad at all. They consume less water and energy, occupy less space and can be grown quick.

To get a response, we put Bogdan’s comment to Roberto Flore, a Sardinian chef, Head of Culinary Research and Development at the Nordic Food Lab, and co-author of On Eating Insects: Essays, Stories and Recipes, a book that looks not just at the politics and philosophy of entomophagy (eating insects) but also presents recipes for preparing and presenting your own tasty dishes made from creepy-crawlies. What would he say?

Could eating insects help save the planet? To get another perspective, we also put Bogdan’s comment to Eustacia Huen, a food and culture writer, and contributor for ForbesLife. She’s written articles about the insect-eating trend (including looking at whether cockroach milk might be the next superfood). What has she discovered?

We also had a comment from Martina, who argued it’s basically pointless to have this kind of debate because people aren’t willing to change their consumption habits. Is she right? Or is she being overly-pessimistic?

What would Roberto Flore say to Marina’s criticism? Does he agree that it’s really pointless to have these kind of debates?

Finally, how would Eustacia Huen respond to the same comment? Does she agree that eating habits are too ingrained and difficult to change?

I disagree. Depending on how much you travel, and how much you read up on things, there’s always room for tweaking your eating habits. For some people that might just be a change of palate as you grow older; for others it may be for health reasons. I must admit, personally, I am wary about eating insects myself. But I don’t think the debate is pointless at all. Obviously, the choice is yours as to whether you want to try this or not. I think there are many ways to embrace a new food trend. But no-one is telling you that you have to eat a live cockroach right now. You can start small by trying an [insect] energy bar, or drinking a shake that might have ground-up insects in it. There are many different ways to ease yourself into a trend like this.

Another factor that should be taken into consideration is globalisation. There are some other cultures in Asia, for instance, that have been eating insects for ages. And if you think about it, you already have renowned Danish chef René Redzepi, who played around with live shrimp covered with ants in his famous restaurant Noma before. So I do think European consumers are open to trying new things, including entomophagy. And I think it’s important that we keep an open mind to engage in these kind of discussions. Because that’s ultimately what we need to effect more positive changes in the long run.

Would you eat insects to save the planet? Can people’s habits and behaviours be changed to make society more sustainable? Let us know your thoughts and comments in the form below and we’ll take them to policymakers and experts for their reactions!

IMAGE CREDITS: (c) BigStockPhoto – stockphototrends

115 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. Sonja

    Insekten nicht, aber jede Art von leckerem Gemuese, Fruechtchen und Meeresfruechten.

    • Fay

      There may be a fight between humans and insects…

    • Elisa

      I don’t think this could be the solution honestly. If all of us would be vegan, we would need more vegan food, so more vegetables and… Would the agriculture be sustainable in order to provide all that food to everyone?

    • Christine

      So much is used for animal feed

    • Costanza

      We don’t eat the same vegetables. Animals feed is mostly made of the parts of vegetables that are not used for human feed and that humans wll never eat. So we will need more vegan food to be raised up aswell

    • Christine

      In the UK we have huge areas of land to feed and keep animals that could be used to grow food for humans beings

  2. Grace

    Certo ho mangiato per anni carne di cavallo alla mia insaputa…..Per salvare la terra potrei sgranocchiare qualche zanzara
    Of course I’ve been eating horse meat for years without my knowledge….. to save earth I could snack on some mosquito.

  3. Bódis

    Kindly advertise it in regions where protein deficiency is a problem. Together with birth control.

  4. Minna

    Leave the insects in peace as well. Plant based is the way to go!

  5. Carol

    deberían de saber muy bien, pero la verdad es que siempre me sentí curiosa y tengo pendiente el probarlos. Pero me gusta tanto la carne…

  6. Sal

    Our 5 year old just opened my eyes, by saying: “We eat shrimps & gamba’s. They look like insects, but live in the sea!”

    YIKES…he’s RIGHT!!!

    • Bibi

      E si vede……..

    • Layla

      Una volta i cafoni erano solo uomini… adesso sono anche donne… vegane e frustrate. ‘Si vede’ dal ph dei commenti.

  7. Ivan

    Now Juncker is out as a massive fan of Karl Marx you had better get use to the idea of eating bugs or anything else you can get your hands on but it won’t be though choice.

    Thank god we are leaving the Marxist hell hole that is the EU.

    • Candida

      Per il pianeta…Ce la possiamo fare!! 😃

  8. Martina

    Maybe we can all be vegan and avoid every kind of problem.. What a nonsense of an article!

    • Martina

      Le cazzate vere, Fabio

  9. Michal

    No. You are solving problem by adding new species to it. Decrease population and you will be able to stabilize planet

    • Elisa

      In which way?

    • Anonymous

      Gotta love them neo-Malthusians. Pray tell, what do you propose?

  10. Valentine

    No, ma un po’ di politici/dirigenti potremmo mangiarceli. Che dicono gli esperti, salveremmo il pianeta?

  11. Nieve

    Don’t be silly, this is just like eating cows or pigs or chickens. Go vegan! It’s time to take responsibility and respect life…

  12. Irene

    …Or you could just go vegan and still save the planet without eating anybody…

  13. Chris

    If the Americans stop use 5 Liter engines just to go to the super market, the chines or the indies adapt key quality standards the planet will be much more greener than expected. Thus please aim accordingly.

    • Carmen

      Fun fact: by misspelling fruit in English you wrote fruit in Catalan lol

  14. EU Reform- Proactive

    Are THEY serious?

    What if no more degenerative questions would be submitted by Mr. Giles Merritt’s “Friend of Europe”? Would the EU collapse? These futuristic trivialities need to be dismissed with the contempt they deserve!

    The human race & their globalist leaders are already unbalancing & exhausting all resources on earth! To top it all, ordinary folks are now enticed to switch to an insect diet- while THEY eat fillet steak?

    After contemplating a “Toothpaste Treaty” now a new “Insect Treaty”? What next?


    Since leaders do lead- why not start with Mr. Merritt, the EC & EP in Brussels and serve them in future with a delicious lunch of Puss Caterpillars, Maricopa Harvester Ants, Brown-Tail Moths and Asian Giant Hornets? Rounded of with roasted Mosquito coffee? No more whisky of course!

    Lets “them” vanish first!

  15. Bárbara

    I don t need to eat insects to save the planet…stupid thing…what we need is
    no meat…the point is what we beed to stop doing.

  16. Jerusah

    No… No somos insectívoros por naturaleza, hay que mejorar el estado del ganado y su calidad de vida y su salud(física y sentimental) no comer insectos.. Y comer menos carne y pescado, que se consume demasiado, comer mas fruta y verdura ( que se tira mucha) y hortalizas y legumbres ( que son baratas)

  17. Margarita

    Would you eat vegetables, seeds and fruits for saving the planet?? This is better question

  18. Craig

    how’s about ending monocultural farming or adding corn to petro?

    • Vittoria

      Quanto cibo buttato a terra,quanto buon cibo…

    • Marie-Regine

      La prossima cena ve la cucino io. Leo fa il degustatore Leonardo

    • Leonardo

      Si stanno riproducendo nel mio stomaco.
      They’re breeding in my stomach.

  19. Rossella

    Nutriamoci con i prodotti della terra!
    Lasciamo in pace gli esseri di tutte le altre specie.
    Lasciamoli vivere!

  20. Jimmi

    To save planet Guy Verhofstadt, Jean-Claude Juncker and Frans Timmermans should eat insect and drink alcohol.

  21. Karolina

    How about we all commit suicide at the same time? That would be best for the planet for sure.

    • Rachele

      You don’t save the world by eating vegetables though, this is a myth. Just think about how polluting large scale agriculture is and the damages it’s doing in many countries (ex. In several south American countries where Monsanto/Bayer own most of the land).

    • Andreea-Luminita

      I am doing it for the last 6 years and I am still alive

    • Catarina

      Rachele, ok, cool. Now compare that with the impact of eating animal products.

  22. Lieve

    I want a healthy planet and do not consider insects on my plate. Vegetables should be healthily grown. Not tastelessly massproduced on poor lands and imported from the other side of the world while homegrown products continue being destroyed to keep prices up. Human ridicul.

  23. Marry

    Como siga la crisis aquí en España no nos va a quedar mas remedio

  24. Sara

    Healthy and don’t have a distinctive taste, I would definitely go for insects in my diet.

  25. Ana Maria

    This is an attempt to normalize Asian customs that need to be integrated into the disruption and unproductive conditions of today’s Europe.

  26. Tatyana

    I’d rather stop eating animal protein at all than start to eat isects

  27. Vi

    I would just eat plant food to save the planet (already do). Don’t go off limits with your creative solutions. Leave the insects to the birds.

    • Ilona

      Ci vuole molto più spazio e acqua per un piatto di pasta e ceci che una bistecca di insetti.

    • Julia

      They grow fast and have high protein. They can life on very tiny space and don’t need much food or water. They can stop wold hunger on a very flexible way. They can be dry used for very long and can be farmed without any transport ways. They can be also farmed at home very easy. So here we go 😉

  28. Kristina

    Why not? We are already eating shrimps and shellfish and consider them a delicacy, grasshoppers and locusts don‘t look that much worse…

    • Felicia

      Io dopo aspetto qualcuno che mi dica “che schifo il tofu o le lenticchie”

  29. Anaïs Deherder

    I’m not sure I could eat insects. I’m actually really afraid of them and I’m not sure I could make them for me to eat. I would always think about the moment they were still alive. I’m willing to change habits like leaving the car at home and walk somewhere or ride a bike, but eating insects will be one step to far for me.

  30. Lidiya

    I wouldn’t like to eat insects to save the planet, just because I’m actually afraid of them. Moreover they could be vectors of infections and it’s quite dangerous to my mind

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