This essay was sent unsolicited to me, and while I consider the topic pointless for western cultures, it’s worth a read just to see how other parts of the world think – Anthony
Guest essay by Sameer Pokhrel Agriculture and Forestry University, Nepal
Where going vegan is suggested as one of the better alternatives to reduce GHGs emission, non vegans still can enjoy meat, blameless for the emission of GHGs – replacing insects for livestock in their diet.
Eating meat is vital to meet the nutritional requirement, on the other hand, nature has to tolerate high level of GHGs while rearing those animals; its catch 22. Nonetheless, insects based food recipe is a wise solution for this problem.
Insects as food
Image credit: SBS
Insects rank topmost species regarding abundance in the world where, some 2111 species of them are recorded to be edible. They are known for high protein and less fat diet and are rich in calories, thiamin, riboflavin, iron, minerals that makes them perfect substitute for conventional beef.
Moreover, insects have an extraordinary potential of food conversion ratio (mass of feed per mass of meat). Cricket, for instance, requires less than 2 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of meat and 80 % is edible where beef requires 8 kg of feed to produce same amount of meat and only 40% is edible.
Regarding sharply rising demand for meat, and insects as a sustainable meat source, UN estimates , by 2050, when the population of world is forecasted to reach 9 billion, meat shortage would be a reality – population depends upon insects to meet the void. Hence, it is likely that we will be consuming insects throughout the globe very sooner than we have anticipated.
Combat climate change
Vegans have been long advocating giving up meat to cut off global warming and save the planet. It holds true as 14.5 % of human produced global GHGs is contributed by livestock. It is fortunate that insects can substitute beef consumption at the same time drastically cut off global emission.
GHGs emitted by insects is very much less than those of conventional livestock. A study compared gases released by insects and livestock in weight to weight basis. The jaw dropping result shows insects emit 80 times less methane than cattle. Moreover, crickets produce 8-12 times less ammonia than pigs. It is not limited here; by the matter of fact only cockroach, termites and scarab beetles produce methane , most of the insects produce methane not at all.
Moreover, insects are far more efficient in utilizing the resources. It is estimated that to produce one kg of meat it requires 10 times more plant nutrients than to produce one kg of insect biomass. A study , for instance, found out production of 150 g grasshopper meat require very less amount of water, which in case of cattle, requires 3290 litres of water to produce same amount of beef. Insects are prolific breeders as well, have a tendency to grow very fast and can easily be adjusted within limited spaces.
Entomophagy (eating insects) is in fact an old tradition, about 80% of world’s nation are recorded to eat insects. Insects based recipe are favorite dishes in many part of the world, but most of the westerners still ‘yuck’ upon the idea of eating insects. However, with the demand of meat soaring up in a sky rocketing pace, entomophagy is simply inevitable. And again, idea of eating insects is commendable in the planet where resource conservation is quite an issue and global warming is an alarming problem.