Should vegetarians eat insects?
Updated: Aug 7
People often ask us, “are vegetarians allowed to eat insects?”.
The Answer? Yes… and no!
There is no simple answer to this question because it comes down to personal opinion. People choose to be vegetarian for different reasons. For some, the environment is their main motive, for others, it’s ethical or health-related. Therefore, people have different perspectives on eating insects, and there’s no concrete answer.
Nevertheless, it’s an interesting topic, so we are going to break it down!
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Vegetarianism has evolved and grown. Studies show there has been a huge increase in ‘eco vegetarianism’ with people choosing a more sustainable diet that avoids the consumption of meat.
Reduction in meat consumption has been advocated by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and a series of influential reports have said that avoiding meat and dairy products is the single best way consumers can reduce their environmental impact.
Cattle farming contributes around 6 billion tonnes of greenhouse gases (carbon dioxide, methane and nitrous oxide) to the atmosphere each year. While estimates vary, this could represent up to 18% of global emissions!
So it's not surprising that we have seen a huge increase in the number of people who have adopted a vegetarian diet. In fact, a report by Waitrose revealed that one-third of Britons have stopped or reduced their meat consumption, with 38% claiming this is due to environmental issues.
For eco-vegetarians, eating insects could be the perfect sustainable solution.
Insect farming requires a fraction of the land, water and feed, compared to traditional cattle farming. And research reveals that mealworms are over 22,000 times more ‘water-efficient’ than beef, and 1,140 times more ‘ammonia efficient’ than pigs.
Plus mealworms are over 54% protein, so they are a fantastic alternative source of protein for vegetarians, who can struggle to get the recommended daily intake of protein.
At BeoBia, we believe that edible insects are the future. We have created an insect growing pod, empowering you to reduce your carbon footprint, reuse your food waste, and rethink your relationship with food.
For those who choose to be vegetarian due to health reasons, there could be real nutritional benefits to eating insects.
Edible insects contain all essential amino acids, healthy fats and they are packed with vitamins and minerals, including calcium, magnesium, copper, iron and vitamin B12.
The vegetarian diet is often criticised for lacking in important nutrients and vitamins like B12, so insects are an appealing addition to vegetarians who want to improve their overall health and importantly, their vitamin and minerals intake.
Many people choose a vegetarian diet out of concern over animal rights. They don’t agree with animal suffering and for some, this might include the killing and consuming of insects.
But some studies have shown that insects don't feel pain. The majority of insects don’t have a central nervous system, and since they don’t have nociceptors like humans, they don’t feel heat or cold. So, killing them can be as simple as placing them in the fridge for five minutes, which many believe is more humane than alternative means of slaughter.
Whether or not you think it is right to kill insects regardless comes down to personal beliefs.
So, to conclude, there are clearly many eco-friendly and health benefits to eating insects, so if you choose to be a vegetarian because of environmental issues or for nutritional reasons, then including insects in your diet could be a healthy, sustainable way to increase your protein intake. But the choice comes down to the individual on whether or not you are comfortable with killing and eating insects.