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


150 comments Post a commentcomment

What do YOU think?

  1. avatar
    Sonja

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

    • avatar
      Fay

      There may be a fight between humans and insects…

    • avatar
      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?

    • avatar
      Christine

      So much is used for animal feed

    • avatar
      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

    • avatar
      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. avatar
    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. avatar
    Bódis

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

  4. avatar
    Minna

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

  5. avatar
    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. avatar
    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!!!

    • avatar
      Bibi

      E si vede……..

    • avatar
      Layla

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

  7. avatar
    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.

    • avatar
      Candida

      Per il pianeta…Ce la possiamo fare!! 😃

  8. avatar
    Martina

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

    • avatar
      Martina

      Le cazzate vere, Fabio

  9. avatar
    Michal

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

    • avatar
      Elisa

      In which way?

    • avatar
      Anonymous

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

  10. avatar
    Valentine

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

  11. avatar
    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. avatar
    Irene

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

  13. avatar
    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.

    • avatar
      Carmen

      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?

    http://www.sciencefocus.com/article/nature/thought-experiment-what-would-happen-if-all-earth%E2%80%99s-insects-vanished

    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
    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. avatar
    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)
    Punto

  17. avatar
    Margarita

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

  18. avatar
    Craig

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

    • avatar
      Vittoria

      Quanto cibo buttato a terra,quanto buon cibo…

    • avatar
      Marie-Regine

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

    • avatar
      Leonardo

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

  19. avatar
    Rossella

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

  20. avatar
    Jimmi

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

  21. avatar
    Karolina

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

    • avatar
      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).

    • avatar
      Andreea-Luminita

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

    • avatar
      Catarina

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

  22. avatar
    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. avatar
    Marry

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

  24. avatar
    Sara

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

  25. 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.

  26. avatar
    Tatyana

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

  27. avatar
    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.

    • avatar
      Ilona

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

    • avatar
      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. avatar
    Kristina

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

    • avatar
      Felicia

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

  29. 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.

  30. avatar
    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

  31. avatar
    Catsrbest

    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
      Xaris

      Έκλαψα I cried 😂

  32. avatar
    Bódis

    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
      David

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

    • avatar
      Bódis

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

      Nothing.

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

    • avatar
      Ariano

      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.

  33. avatar
    Rob

    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
      Felipe-Jordi

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

  34. avatar
    Bódis

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

    • avatar
      João

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

    • avatar
      Bódis

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

    • avatar
      Felipe-Jordi

      Bódis giving that right back to you bodis

    • avatar
      Felipe-Jordi

      It has a way better ecological footprint

    • avatar
      Felipe-Jordi

      Compared to beef and other traditional meats

    • avatar
      Sándor

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

  35. avatar
    Hoos

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

  36. avatar
    Ivan

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

  37. avatar
    Michael

    Sorry planet, you’re on your own.

  38. avatar
    Donato

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

  39. avatar
    Ivan

    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 ?

  40. avatar
    Pietro

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

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