According to Marcel Dicke, insects are not only tasty; they’re also nutritious and more eco-friendly than eating meat. (Click on the link to watch his TED Talk.) He claims that 80% of the world already eats insects, though this also includes the processed ones we eat in our food, so I’m sure the number of conscious bug-eaters is smaller than that. Still, it’s a valid point that much of the world—particularly those who cannot afford or access animal meat or other proteins—does rely on bugs as a food source.
That said, would it really create so much less of an environmental impact? It seems like eating insects would simply require more animals—well, in this case, bugs—to head to the slaughter. Insects are, after all, a type of animal, so it’s not like this practice could be considered strictly vegetarianism—and definitely not even in the ballpark of veganism.
Still, when you think of all of the insect populations that exist in the world, it’s hard not to believe it would be a more sustainable choice. After all, who doesn’t have a few pillbugs or spiders they wouldn’t want to get rid of? You’d have to teach the public about which bugs are safe to eat versus which ones are poisonous, of course, as well as where to get the bugs. Would we start plants that capture them locally and sell them? Would we catch them ourselves—and if so, how? I’ve never looked at it this way before, but when you think of how people might rely on insects to survive and how some other people actually pay exterminators to get rid of them instead, you have to wonder what the former thinks of the latter. How wasteful, they must think! And perhaps, like so many other things people in the Western world do, it is. (It’s definitely wasteful in the funds department, that’s for sure.)
Then again, if we’re all willing to eat creepy crawly critters, what are they going to put on reality TV shows to entertain us all?