Try not to bug out, but scientists say it's time we consider a little insect infusion when it comes to our daily diets.
University of Edinburgh researchers have found that replacing half the world’s meat with insects like crickets and mealworms could cut farmland used for livestock by a third, thus significantly reducing the emission of greenhouse gasses.
“A mix of small changes in consumer behaviour, such as replacing beef with chicken, reducing food waste and potentially introducing insects more commonly into diets, would help achieve land savings and a more sustainable food system,” said Dr. Peter Alexander of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences and Scotland’s Rural College.
The study, published in the journal Global Food Security, is the first to compare conventional meat production with foods like insects, tofu and lab-grown meat. Insects and meat-alternatives were found to be the most sustainable as they require the least amount of energy and land to produce. Beef was the least sustainable, with cattle representing roughly 65 percent of livestock emissions (which account for a huge portion of human-made greenhouse gas emissions.)
Surprisingly, lab-grown meat was found to be no more sustainable than chicken or eggs, requiring the same area of land but using more energy. As the study puts it: “the benefits claimed for cultured meat may not be justified.”
While further research is needed on large-scale insect production, the real challenge may be convincing North Americans to join the estimated two billion people around the world who already eat insects on the regular.
It shouldn’t be too hard, though. We did learn to embrace sushi, after all.