New initiative could allow school children to try ‘sustainable’ insect protein

In Wales, primary school children are required to attend classes that will teach them all about alternative proteins. Foods of plant origin will be included in the educational workshops, led by researchers and teachers, but another major focus will be edible insects.

As awareness grows around the environmental and ethical issues associated with eating meat, brands and scientists are increasingly supporting alternative sources of protein. This has led to a boom in plant-based meat products (the market is predicted to reach over $24 billion by 2030). But has also led some to explore the world of edible insects, which are also considered sustainable to cultivate.

Cricket farming, for example, uses 75% less carbon dioxide and 50% less water than poultry farming.

It should be noted that eating insects is nothing new. In a number of African countries, including Uganda, Zambia and Nigeria, people have been eating insects for centuries. And Mexico, Brazil and Thailand are among a number of countries where eating insects is normal. In fact, around two billion people around the world regularly eat insects.

Is it ethical to eat insects?

But while insects are a more sustainable form of protein, not everyone agrees that eating them is ethical. Several studies have shown that insects have the potential to feel and suffer.

In 2016, a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, for example, suggested that insects have the beginning of consciousness. He noted that they are driven by subjective experience.

Another study in 2019 found that, like humans, insects can experience chronic pain.

Greg Neely, co-author of the study who works at the University of Sydney, said at the time: “After the animal has been badly injured once, it is hypersensitive and tries to protect itself for the rest. of his life. It’s pretty cool and intuitive.

Understanding food production

Four primary schools are participating in the new test, and children can try edible insects themselves.

Roch Community Primary School is one of the participants. Director Carl Evans said Subway that the workshops will help children understand alternative protein options.

He said: “There is an important connection between our local community, food production and wider global issues related to sustainable development. These questions are important for children, but they are also difficult to understand and can often be confusing for them. »