Insect protein a climate-friendly alternative to meat, researchers say

New research from the University of Helsinki has found that substituting insect protein for animal products could reduce global warming.

Photo: 123RF

The researchers modeled different diets to see which would produce the best environmental outcomes while providing high nutritional value.

They found that by replacing ordinary proteins, such as chicken and red meat, with insects and mycroprotein – which is a naturally occurring fungus – humans could reduce the global warming potential and water consumption of more than 80%.

University of Auckland doctoral candidate Neil Birrell, who studies the use of insects as food, said the new research confirms that we should be eating more insects.

He said the concept of eating insects is not new to most New Zealanders, as many have tried huhu chow.

“I recently did a questionnaire on insect consumption in New Zealand, and we found that of the people who responded, 50% were willing to eat an insect and 59% of people had also eaten an insect. in the past.

“Among people who had eaten an insect in the past, 34% of people ate it at least once a year.

“So there is a certain appetite for insects in New Zealand, however, there are few companies that produce insects as food here.

“I don’t know if, necessarily, people are already replacing their diet with these insects. Maybe it’s more of a novelty factor that they try them.”

Birrell said some restaurants across the country are now serving insects to diners, showing more people are willing to try them.

“They’re actually really delicious,” he laughs.

“I am constantly surprised. I have tried about 20 different species of insects and all of them have different flavors and tastes and different characteristics.

“Some are really crispy and just pop in your mouth, some taste like edamame beans, some taste more like prawns or prawns.

“There are so many different species – there are between 1,500 and 2,000 species of insects eaten around the world.”