Originals: Do we have to eat insects?

Alternative food source: The only solution to the growing world population problem is for humans to eat insects. In recent years, the subject of "eating insects", which has been tried in the media and academia, has caused a lot of discussions. How accurate is this topic, which is tried to be combined with the vegan issue for common reasons? We researched for you.


Do we have to eat insects?

Entomophagy: The consumption of insects as a source of nutrition by humans [1].

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Some “Benefits of eating insects” news in the media. You may be seeing such posts on social media lately. Agendas such as the changing world conditions and the climate crisis ask scientists, “Can these problems be solved if people consume insects?” Yes, they do because there are societies that have been doing this for a long time.

According to general information, insect consumption is present in countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo, Central African Republic, Cameroon, Uganda, Zambia, Zimbabwe, Nigeria and South Africa, but there is also insect consumption in some countries in Asia.

We may need to look at which insects are consumed the most to gain a little more control over the subject. We can say that maggots, dragonflies, cicadas, tarantulas, scorpions, grasshoppers, crickets and ants are the most consumed insects in general [5].

Insects / Nutritive value Protein
Dragonflies %58
Scorpions %52
Grasshoppers %61

Table 1: Average protein values ​​of dried or live consumption of some insects [3], [4].

So, are protein sources decreasing?

Protein (πρωτειος) are actually large biomolecules containing one or more long chains of amino acids. It is consumed as animal or vegetable. The daily protein requirement of a person of average height and weight can be found by multiplying it by 0.8 – 1.6 per kilogram [9],[11].

Due to poor or excessive consumption of protein; Relationships have been found directly or indirectly with diseases such as heart diseases, cancer and osteoporosis (bone loss) [10].

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Founded in 1974, The Food and Agriculture Organization has very interesting articles on this subject. Global and regional food consumption per capita shows an increasing trend every year. While this value was 2358 kcal in 1964, this value reached 2940 in 2015. The estimated value for 2030 is 3050 kcal.This value is the world average per person per day in kcal [6].

Considering that 1 billion additional human population is added to the world population almost every 10 years, the sustainability of protein sources is questioned. But our secret weapon may be plant-based proteins. Antinutrients and allergens are currently among the biggest obstacles in this regard [8].

According to The Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Balance Sheet data, it is clear that global meat consumption has increased significantly in recent years. The highlight of this report is that it points out that between 1990 and 2009, total meat consumption increased by almost 60% [7].

So let’s come to our question: Do we have to eat insects?

In this regard, we tried to get in touch with companies that market food products obtained from insects, especially for you. But none of them responded to our interview offers. Even after this article is published, if there is a return, it will be added.

In addition to offering insect consumption as a recommendation for poor countries, insects are already consumed as food in most poor countries. The real problem here is related to the protein crisis in the world. We must be talking about a great dystopia. If we look at it as a “must”, consuming insects as food would have a similar benefit to today’s world as turning off the tap while brushing your teeth.

The main factors here are the environmental factors of food production. For example, livestock and fishing account for 31% of food emissions. In short, your carbon footprint [12]. According to The water footprint platform, on average, one kilogram of beef needs approximately 15,000 liters of water directly or indirectly [13].

According to the same guideline, 2,700 liters of water are consumed directly or indirectly to produce one T-shirt. This is roughly equivalent to the water a person needs for 900 days.

Do you have to eat insects? At least for now, the decision seems to be yours.


[1] “Entomophagy | Dietary Practice | Britannica.” Encyclopædia Britannica, 2022, www.britannica.com/topic/entomophagy.
[2] Google Ngram Viewer: ‘eat insects’, 1800-2019 in English. https://books.google.com/ngrams/graph?content=eat+insects&year_start=1800&year_end=2019&corpus=en-2019&smoothing=3
[3] Europe PMC. “Europe PMC.” Europepmc.org, 2016, europepmc.org/article/pmc/pmc9107018.
[4] Abulude, F. O., et al. “Studies on Scorpion (Androctonus Australis): Nutritional and Anti-Nutritional Factors.” Journal of Entomology, vol. 3, no. 2, 2022, pp. 156–60, scialert.net/fulltext/?doi=je.2006.156.160.
[‌5] FAO. “Looking at Edible Insects from a Food Safety Perspective. Challenges and Opportunities for the Sector.” (2021).
[6] “3. Global and Regional Food Consumption Patterns and Trends.” Fao.org, 2015, www.fao.org/3/ac911e/ac911e05.htm.‌
[7] Henchion, Maeve, et al. “Future Protein Supply and Demand: Strategies and Factors Influencing a Sustainable Equilibrium.” Foods, vol. 6, no. 7, July 2017, p. 53, https://doi.org/10.3390/foods6070053.
[8] Hertzler, Steven R., et al. “Plant Proteins: Assessing Their Nutritional Quality and Effects on Health and Physical Function.” Nutrients, vol. 12, no. 12, Nov. 2020, p. 3704, https://doi.org/10.3390/nu12123704.
[9] Watford, Malcolm, and Guoyao Wu. “Protein.” Advances in Nutrition, vol. 9, no. 5, July 2018, pp. 651–53, https://doi.org/10.1093/advances/nmy027.
‌[10] US Medicine, et al. “Protein, Carbohydrates, and Chronic Diseases.” Nih.gov, National Academies Press (US), 2022, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/books/NBK235012/.
[11] Wu, Guoyao. “Dietary Protein Intake and Human Health.” Food & Function, vol. 7, no. 3, 2016, pp. 1251–65, https://doi.org/10.1039/c5fo01530h.
[‌12] Ritchie, Hannah, and Max Roser. “Environmental Impacts of Food Production.” Our World in Data, 15 Jan. 2020, ourworldindata.org/environmental-impacts-of-food?country=#food-production-is-responsible-for-one-quarter-of-the-world-s-greenhouse-gas-emissions.
[13] Hoekstra, Arjen, et al. The Water Footprint Assessment Manual Setting the Global Standard. 2011, waterfootprint.org/media/downloads/TheWaterFootprintAssessmentManual_2.pdf.

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