New Survey Finds Consumers Who Want Save the Planet Would Rather Eat Plants Than Bugs
If you saw insects on a menu in South America or Asia, it would be nothing out of the ordinary. But insects won't be the special of the day at European restaurants anytime soon, according to a new survey that found people who rather eat plants than bugs. They also don't want to eat meat grown in a lab, the survey found. Plant-based burgers will be on the menu.
The European Consumer Organisation, BEUC, surveyed consumers from 11 European countries (Italy, Belgium, Portugal, Spain, Austria, Germany, Greece, Lithuania, Netherlands, Slovakia and Slovenia) to find out people's attitudes towards sustainable foods and alternative protein sources. Among those surveyed, 40% said they had either stopped eating red meat altogether or have cut way down due to environmental concerns.
The Survey asked what consumers will eat to save the planet and they said: Plants!
Two-thirds of consumers would change their diet for the environment and would rather eat plant-based burgers (without GMOs) and sustainable proteins like legumes rather than nibble on insects, even though bugs have the same amount of protein as poultry and beef. Only 10% of consumers would prefer insects over plant-based proteins. The consumers who were more open-minded about eating insects were Belgian, Austrian, and Dutch. They also told the surveyors that they didn't care to eat meat that was grown from animal cells in the lab.
Edible bugs could be the future of sustainable protein.
Still, the question comes up because insects are cheap and packed with protein. It may be hard to believe, but it's true: There is almost as much protein in insects as in red meat.
Consider this: 100 grams of house crickets contain 21 grams of protein, just slightly less than 100 grams of ground beef, which comes in at 26 grams. Eating insects could be a "solution to an increasingly urgent food-security problem confronting the world," a study in 2019 concluded.
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization has been advocating for adding bugs to your diet since 2003 because insects are "a sustainable and nutritious alternative to resource-intensive staples such as beef, poultry, and fish."
A report found that 2 billion people around the world eat insects, says Business Insider and the need for alternative proteins due to climate change means this could grow even larger. The insect protein industry is expected to balloon to become an $8 Billion industry by the year 2030, Barclays predicts.
People don't like the idea of replacing one living protein source with another.
Vegans, of course, will not go for this protein alternative, and nor will anyone who like us at The Beet believe in capturing spiders inside and releasing them into the wild. But this survey didn't delve into the "why" of the aversion to bugs. It could be the "ick" factor as much as the desire not to hurt another living being.
Still, there is a growing market for inexpensive protein sources that have less impact on the climate than animal agriculture, and Barclays conducted a report that found the "edible bug" industry could grow to $8 billion by 2030. As sustainability becomes a mounting concern worldwide, many companies and nations are in desperate search of low-impact plant-based alternatives. Major brands like Tyson and Nestle are beginning to research protein sourced from insects and how bugs can be incorporated into future products. The fact that large corporations are seriously looking into this has industry analysts asking: Could insects be the future of food?
For now, we prefer protein from peas, soy, hemp and legumes, nuts, seeds, and grains. For a list of the top sources of protein from plant-based foods, see The Beet's list here.