Eating insects is technically considered eating meat because insects are animals and the flesh or muscle of an animal is meat. The reason humans eat insects is due to their abundance and their surprisingly good nutritional value.
Humans have been eating insects as a source of protein for about as long as they have been eating plants. Some researchers have pegged human insect consumption beginning 10,000 years ago. The most commonly consumed insects are beetles, as they are the most numerous type of insects that exist, but grasshoppers, crickets, ants, and even worms are often deep-fried or chocolate-covered as well. Speaking of ants, check this out if you have ever wondered if ants have hearts. Anyways, culturally, insects are frequent menu items in places such as Thailand, China, Brazil, Australia, Japan, and Mexico (that’s real larvae in your mezcal).
While humans have been serving up insects for thousands of years, it wasn’t until recently that insects began to make the move into more mainstream eateries. This is primarily because insect farms are seen as cheaper and more environmentally friendly alternatives to beef farms. There are seven billion people on this planet who need to eat, so alternative food sources have been a top priority for scientists and entrepreneurs alike.
However, when it comes to eating insect meat, where do vegetarians and vegans stand? The answer, of course, may change depending on who you speak with. If a person is choosing to be vegetarian for health reasons, for example, then eating insect meat likely won’t be a big deal. If the diet is strictly about protecting animals, then that opens up another debate about insect sentience (about which the results are inconclusive at this point).
Ultimately, insects and insect byproducts have been found in foods across all categories, whether purposely or not. Cochineal, for example, is a red substance that is methodically extracted from insects to use as food coloring. So, whether you are ready to dive into a bowl of fried crickets or not, the reality is that insect meat isn’t going away anytime soon.
- Fruit flies were the first living creatures to be sent into space.
- A bee’s wings beat at about 190 times a second.
- Butterflies taste with their feet.
- One dung beetle can drag over 1,000 times its weight. That is like you pulling about 8 buses.
- Caterpillars have 12 eyes.
- A honeybee colony can produce about 220 jars of honey each year.
- FastCompany.com – Is eating bugs any morally different than eating cows?
- DigitalTrends.com – Grub’s up? Lab-grown insect meat could be the future of food production
- NationalGeographic.com – For Most People, Eating Bugs Is Only Natural
- USNews.com – Countries That Eat Bugs – Slideshow