Not all vegans refuse to eat honey, but many do. They see interfering with the lives of insects (in this case, bees) to be as problematic as eating other animals or animal products. (And just so there’s no confusion, insects are animals. Those who work for animal rights and advocate for insects are correctly including them in their definitions.) So, many vegans are starting to question the heavily hyped — and seemingly growing — act of consuming insects as food.
Plenty of people (especially environmentalists) want to expand the number of people who eat bugs. The United Nations even recently called bugs the “food of the future.” Those who keep an eye on the health of the planet have weighed an ever-increasing human population against the growing number of people in developing countries who eat meat (or who consume much more of it than they did previously). They’ve compared that information to how livestock practices overuse freshwater resources and fossil fuels and have concluded that replacing meat with insect protein needs to happen. After all, insects have a much (much) smaller environmental footprint and still provide plenty of protein.
In terms of energy-in, energy-out, it’s a no-brainer: “They can make about 1 kilogram (2.2 pounds) of insect meat for every 2 kg of feed, while cows need 8 kg (17.6 pounds) of feed just to make 1 kg of beef,” writes Russell McLendon here on MNN. In fact, insects of all types have a better feed-to-meat ratio than any warm-blooded animal — partially because they don’t waste energy on heating their bodies. And insects definitely don’t pollute groundwater and rivers with their waste like pigs and cows are notorious for doing .
But wait a minute. Even if insects are a more environmentally friendly food, what about the ethics behind producing, killing and eating them? After all, insects build monumental structures, have complex societies and, according to at least one Hollywood insect trainer, can definitely be trained .