Do we want insects in our regular diet?

At the Bugs& Bites-evening people agreed it would be more sustainable.
Brownie with 30 per cent ground cricket. Photo Sarah Maria Scheid

Text Sarah-Maria Scheid

‘Who would eat insects?’ Almost everyone in the audience raised their hand. ‘And who would think that insects are part of the future diet?’ A few less people reacted. Resource-student editor Sarah Maria Scheid was present at the event and tasted cricket brownies.

To discuss whether a transition to insects in our food diet is feasible, a debate with guests from political, economic, and ethical perspectives was organized last week by STARTHUB, a co-creation space for students who want to develop their own business idea, and Enactus Wageningen, a student association that supports sustainable entrepreneurship.

‘Everyone has probably eaten insects at some point, as one species of beetle has been used for red food colouring since years’, says presenter Jan Hollerbach. He continues: ‘If you had to choose between a beef burger and an insect burger: What would you choose from an ethical point of view?’ Most people in the audience voted for the insect burger. Arnold van Huis, a tropical entomologist who conducts research on insects as food and feed: ‘Insects are a valuable alternative to meat products in terms of an equal protein content, the reduced area we need to grow them and the lower greenhouse gas emissions.’

Living beings

Others thought that eating insects is just as bad as eating meat. Martijn van Loon, a philosophical researcher with focus on animal and environmental ethical aspects of the insect industry: ‘Insects are living beings too and we still kill them for human use. In fact, thousand times more insects are killed compared to animals for the meat production.’ The participants agreed that insects as food would be more sustainable, but that it will still take a few years to develop some more tasty products that appeal to the customer.

After the discussion, almost everyone was curious to try the insect brownies with 30 per cent ground cricket, including myself. I think they tasted delicious, just like normal chocolate brownies. It was not possible to taste or see the insect meal, but I can understand other people not wanting to try it, because insects aren’t traditionally part of the Western diet. It is something new and people may find it unsavoury. But I found out tonight that products made from insects can be delicious and they are climate-adapted compared to meat.

StartHub often organizes events on scientific and business-related topics. The next event is on 25 May: ‘Not a regular cup of coffee’. 7 – 9 pm, Plus Ultra II

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