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

255 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar

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

    • avatar

      There may be a fight between humans and insects…

    • avatar

      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?

    • avatar

      So much is used for animal feed

    • avatar

      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

    • avatar

      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. avatar

    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. avatar

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

  4. avatar

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

  5. avatar

    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. avatar

    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!!!

    • avatar

      E si vede……..

    • avatar

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

  7. avatar

    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.

    • avatar

      Per il pianeta…Ce la possiamo fare!! 😃

  8. avatar

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

    • avatar

      Le cazzate vere, Fabio

  9. avatar

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

    • avatar

      In which way?

    • avatar

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

  10. avatar

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

  11. avatar

    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. avatar

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

  13. avatar

    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.

    • avatar

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

  14. avatar
    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. avatar

    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. avatar

    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. avatar

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

  18. avatar

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

    • avatar

      Quanto cibo buttato a terra,quanto buon cibo…

    • avatar

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

    • avatar

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

  19. avatar

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

  20. avatar

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

  21. avatar

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

    • avatar

      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).

    • avatar

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

    • avatar

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

  22. avatar

    I ate a lot of insects when I rode a Motorcycle as my only transportation. Also got stung in the face when I rear ended a Bee !!!

  23. avatar

    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.

  24. avatar

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

  25. avatar

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

  26. avatar
    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.

  27. avatar

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

  28. avatar

    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.

    • avatar

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

    • avatar

      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 😉

  29. avatar

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

    • avatar

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

  30. avatar
    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.

  31. avatar

    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

  32. avatar

    Aren’t insects live creatures as well as cows, pigs, chickens and all the other creatures that humans consume?

    Probably they are sentient creatures as well, so why not choose a plant-based or vegan diet? I believe that’s the ONLY way forward.

    • avatar

      Έκλαψα I cried 😂

  33. avatar

    People who work 40 hours a week should make enough money to have a home, to be able to afford proper nutritious food and a few other things for education and fun.

    If you can’t afford that, you are nothing but a slave, no matter how “free” you are to have sex with anything that moves or have any kind of labeling on your toilet.

    • avatar

      To have that kind of freedom we need to be less people on the planet, and to forbid the excessive accumulation of resources.

    • avatar

      So… what are we doing about the excessive reproduction rates in developing countries, the monopoly of big capital and the existence of tax havens?


      There’s no discussion at all, they are not even recognized as issues.

    • avatar

      David what do you mean, less people on the planet. The production it’s excessive and we produce much more that the world population need.

      The problem is: it’s all bad distributed.

  34. avatar

    Why the f* should we eat insects!? We live in the west, we don’t suffer from overpopulation. We can provide for ourselves and live of high quality meat and vegetables forever if we get control back over European leadership and immigration.

    • avatar

      Yeah and have you ever thought about the emissions that ‘high quality meat’ industries produce?

  35. avatar

    Ps: How about addressing the massive reproduction rates in developing countries?

    • avatar

      How about addressing the west exploitation of many developing countries to feed the absurdly disproportional consumerism and natural resources usage?

    • avatar

      Try to figure out what some of those developing countries would look like without western influence! ;)

    • avatar

      Bódis giving that right back to you bodis

    • avatar

      It has a way better ecological footprint

    • avatar

      Compared to beef and other traditional meats

    • avatar

      So, if I understand this correctly, if we eat meat the planet will die? Are you sure?

  36. avatar

    Go Vegan. Best solution for the planet, your health and animal suffering.

  37. avatar

    ‘To save the planet’ ?! Not really over egging it are you lol

  38. avatar

    Sorry planet, you’re on your own.

  39. avatar

    Rich in protein and have a lesser impact on the environment. Sign me in

  40. avatar

    Insects create the environment so what do you think is going to happen when we start eating them & if its wrong to kill and eat millions of sheep, cows, pigs, chickens, etc why is it ok to eat billions of insects ?

  41. avatar

    Yes, why not? It’s only a cultural matter, the disgust of eat them will vanish during the passing of generations.

  42. avatar

    You don’t have to “save the planet”, just keep your own house and your own business clean.
    If everybody did that, there would be no need to “save the planet”.
    And here’s an idea: ban the use of SF6, which has 23500 times stronger greenhouse effect than CO2 and lingers in the atmosphere for at least a 1000 years yet it’s unregulated and most people never heard of it. Also, tax and reduce overseas shipping, which is a huge source of pollution, as big as a country with economy like Germany and Japan.
    You see, it’s not hard. You don’t need to eat bugs, just use your brains and be informed, don’t fall for the propaganda. You have many choices, not just the things that are presented to you.

  43. avatar

    These 100 companies produce 71% of man-made emissions, which constitute 3.4% of all the emissions.
    I rather kick their butt than eat bugs. It would also have an actual significant impact, unlike eating bugs.

  44. avatar

    Waiting for those activists to say “Worms are People too”

  45. avatar

    No, I don’t care about the planet.

  46. avatar

    Tasted some in Thailand and was very surprise at how good they taste! Scary at first tho, would eat again if we had them here in France

  47. avatar

    Sure. And not only for saving planet.

  48. avatar

    I’ll eat insect just because, if they’re tasty I’m in.

  49. avatar

    Hahahaha. Let me tell you what to do to me în order to save the planet! Pathetic people…

  50. avatar

    No thanks, I like my steaks. I’ll leave that to Greta Thunberg and her family.

    • avatar

      Artur yeah, well say that to the face of a child who might have to starve in the future because we ain’t doing shit to save our own species.

  51. avatar

    No as I do not believe that climate change is mainly man made , but people that believe it should lead by example and start virtue signaling by sharing their bugs meals online …

    • avatar

      You not believing doesn’t change the fact, that it is man made

    • avatar

      Daniel it doesn’t matter what started it, we need to do whatever we can to lessen the impact of climate change or we will go extinct.

  52. avatar

    Let’s just wait for 3D printers and home printed meat.

  53. avatar

    People with latex fruit allergy syndrome are also allergic to chitin found in crustaceans,molluscs, insects and nematodes. People could get allergic reactions and possibly go into anaphylatic shock. Especially people who didn’t know they had this allergy. Like me. I have had allergic reactions to latex fruits and molluscs this year in my late forties when I didn’t react before. So I know it can be dangerous. Food fad ideas shouldn’t be promoted whether it is a diet or new food source without allergy or health warnings.

  54. avatar

    Eating insects would not save the planet and in fact would worsen even further the ever decreasing insect diversity wich is enormously important to the ecosystem in the planet

  55. avatar

    No. I hope the government will impose this to me, so that I will be forced even if it’s disgusting. Law is stringer than the tongue

  56. avatar

    Anyway, Media are making everything to make people to be used to that.
    It’s already years they say how good and healthy ( I do not know if ecologically correct) this rubbish is. One step forward after Junk food.

  57. avatar

    Stupid question? Do you know what role do the bugs/insects do in the ecosystem? How does eating them to extinction save the planet?

    • avatar

      Hebron the idea is to farm insects for human consumption, not to go hunting..

    • avatar

      João help yourself

  58. avatar

    If seasoned well, why not .:) But would you Brussels bureaucrats?

    • avatar

      Goran not any other Pm or head of state, be sure.

  59. avatar

    If we eat the bees, for example, or other insects, we will need to do ourselves the plant’s pollination, and we have no hands enough for that, because there are many billions of flowers to be pollinated.

    • avatar

      Bees aren’t anywhere near being candidates for food. They’re hairy, have venom and are finicky to farm.
      When talking about insects for food it’s more like worms, grasshoppers, crickets, beetles and roaches.
      There’s also the option of snails which, while not being insects, are already a part of European cuisine.

    • avatar

      What I like is the sea arthropods: crabs, lobsters, langoustines, prawns and etc…
      In my point of view you can eat all the bugs you mention.

  60. avatar

    Only together with Mr. George Soros

  61. avatar

    Absolute yes, we eat shrimps, gambas. In Asia some insects are a delicatessen. I however think that bacteria or artificial protein will also be in the race for future food.

    • avatar

      HJo dog is also a delicatessen in some parts of Asia..

    • avatar

      HJo beurk

    • avatar

      Patrizia I agree but that’s not the question right?

  62. avatar

    No. Look at what eating weird stuff brought to the world this year.

    • avatar

      good point

  63. avatar

    I will stick to vegetables thanks.

  64. avatar

    Europe has roughly 750 million citizens out of nearly 8 billion ppl worldwide. I think it won’t make any difference if we stick to our diet :-P try with larger countries and/or continents ;)

    • avatar

      People in China are already eating everything that moves :D

  65. avatar

    Insects are nasty creatures. We already have the ability of of engineering food. Why would we need to eat insects it’s beyond me.

  66. avatar

    Cheap low environmental impact protein rich food, sign me up

  67. avatar

    No, but I would eat lab-meat, plus all those vegan-“beef”-burgers

  68. avatar

    Insects are still meat. There’s nothing as good as a vegetarian diet.

    • avatar

      vegetarian diet is a bullshi, there is nothing as goog as a good burger

    • avatar

      If you want to get sick and die, and you like destroying the rainforests, then yes a burger is good.

    • avatar

      We are omnivores. We can survive with or without meat. That is a biological fact.

    • avatar

      Both Soy industry and meat industry are different side of the same coin. (That is what we say in dutch) …yet at the same time …I notice that my “system” can’t afford a 100% plant based food. So decided to reduce meat consumption to max 3x week (150gr each t – max 500-600gr week, the average meat consumption of an person in 2018 was calculated on 1,5kg a week) …and stop drinking (cow) milk – research result proved that for 1 glass milk (250ml) there is a “offer/sacrifice” of 300gr veal (young calf)

  69. avatar

    I would rather go vegan or reduce the amoubt of meat in my diet than to eat bugs.

  70. avatar

    No instead o eating insects or lucust’s take both away from me and i’ll feed champions

  71. avatar

    Modern day problems. A.k.a European problems

  72. avatar

    I will not eat insects . Tell the Oligarcs to stop eating meat

  73. avatar

    Thank God I will never have to make that decision

  74. avatar

    Nothing is as bad for the planet as human nonsense that has no end.

  75. avatar

    Sure, we eat snails in Portugal and we’re good.

  76. avatar

    The culture is stronger than my logical reasoning. I would happily say yes to affordable lab meat.

  77. avatar

    How about not eating meat at all… it’s a way better option

  78. avatar

    Sorry planet, not happening. ;)

  79. avatar

    Look up: “Why avoiding meat and dairy won’t save the planet” on climateandcapitalism.com

  80. avatar

    Planet does not need any saving, it will be just fine for the next billion years or so…it is a lump of rock orbiting the Sun

  81. avatar

    i would eat the rich to save the planet instead,

  82. avatar

    Yes! I’ll start when the Kg of mealworms drop 30€! Now is expensive. If you have eaten shrimps you had insects so don’t be so fuzzy, you had the mermaid version of a mealworm.

  83. avatar

    I believe if everybody replaces drinking milk with soyadrink (milk) and reduces to eat meat 3x a week…(I prefer beans instead of insects) the world/planet will look and become a whole lot better. So NO to insects, increase plant based consumption instead.

  84. avatar

    I would rather go vegan or reduce the amount of meat in my diet than to eat bugs.

  85. avatar

    I don’t care if the food I’m eating is impacting the planet! The only aspect determing what I’ll eat today is my actual appetit

  86. avatar

    Insects have chitin. Many people are allergic to chitin. Especially people with latex-fruit allergy syndrome. Funguses in the body have a chitin layer which your immune system attacks if it recognises it under the biofilm. Does anyone do any scientific research across all fields before silly suggestions are made to change the human natural diet? Vegans are bad enough interfering and harming some people’s health with their diet religion.

  87. avatar

    This is not as simple as it seems. What is more sustainable? European beef or south american soy?

  88. avatar

    NO NO, insects eat practically anything and clean our planet!!!!!

  89. avatar

    Yes. So many people already do. I am uncertain whether saving the planet would be my motivation, but I would eat it.

  90. avatar

    I will leave this to the chinese

  91. avatar

    Protect Earth s life.Dont eat anything organic……Stop promoting businesses campaigns

  92. avatar

    No. I would eat insects only if I am starving and there is nothing else left. Now leave us alone and stop with this BS propaganda about “saving the planet”.

  93. avatar

    Surely eating insects would harm the planet, not save it!! What about biodiversity? Surely every living creature has a role to play in the domino effect and of how they affect the grander scheme of things? Respect every living creature, live & let live. Looking at what’s been happening in the world while certain species may be flourishing, some perhaps may be out of control, we are the world’s biggest threat with the impact we’ve been having on the planet, surely? Seriously when is enough, ever enough? Are we hell bent on turning this precious planet of ours into a baron arid desert wasteland? And then how will we survive? Because remember this we may be top of that food chain but as species die off that chain will become unstable and we will all come tumbling down with it. Surely we don’t want to be the instigators of our own destruction? Live & let live, eh!! Respect!! ❤

  94. avatar

    Look. We are locked down and now you will ask us to eat insects.. I thought that Europe was supposed to bring welfare to people’s… Let us live the way we like…

  95. avatar

    Hell no, unless it’s grounded as a powder and a component for foods such as cakes or pies. But if you served me a caramelized tarantula with a mango sauce, most likely I’ll throw it at your face!!

  96. avatar

    I will do it, if its for the welfare of everybody.

  97. avatar

    If we wanna save planet and suffering then go vegan.

  98. avatar

    Freek Lejaeghere zou jij dat doen??

  99. avatar


  100. avatar

    How exactly eating insects is saving the planet??!!

  101. avatar

    No I wouldn’t. I would eat locally farmed and seasonal products as much as possible. Supporting sustainable farming is something EU can look up into before calling us to eat bugs to save the planet. Nature worked fine before mass production. Try to make those products reasonably priced so more people can access them, maybe that’s an idea to think of!

  102. avatar
    silas knapp

    I would eat insects manly because insects have high amounts of protein and require less food land and time to get ready for dining

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