Want To Save The Planet? A New Study Says Eat More Bugs, Less Meat

Animal agriculture accounts for 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emission. By swapping out half of our animal-based foods for insects and faux meats, we could cut land used for food production by a third.


Nov. 19 2020, Updated 9:39 p.m. ET

Solving the climate-change crisis could be as simple as looking underneath your kitchen fly swatter. With animal agriculture accounting for 12 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions, which is about the same as all modes of transport combined, researchers at the University of Edinburgh set to work looking at alternatives to meat and dairy, Treehugger reports.

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Their findings, published in Global Food Security journal, feel a little shocking. By replacing half of animal-based foods with aquaculture, cultured meat, imitation meat and—drum roll, please—insects, we could cut by a third the amount of land used to produce all food on the planet.

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Meat consumption keeps going up

In spite of veganism being on the rise, meat consumption is also up; and experts predict there will be twice as much meat produced in 2050 as there is today. As more people acquire more money, they tend to eat more meat in spite of a meat-rich diet’s potential health, ethical, and environmental complications.

Many people thought aquaculture-raised fish might be the answer to food shortages. But creatures like salmon consume five times the amount of fish they ultimately provide to people. Of course, that may change with the advent of maggots being used as food for aquaculture fish.

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Western culture needs to evolve

The United Nations has been urging people to swap meat for bugs since at least 2013, pointing to 1,900 nutritious species, hundreds of which are already popular staples in other countries. Western culture is behind on this culinary twist, but the newly released study pointed to other dishes throughout history that were similarly considered gross until finally wearing down taste-bud and cultural resistance:

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“Tomatoes in Britain were widely viewed with suspicion and dismissed for over 200 years. Similarly, lobster in America was initially a poverty food eaten by slaves and prisoners, and used as fertilizer and fish bait, due to their abundance. It wasn’t until the late nineteenth century that lobster developed a status as a luxury food, supported by the expansion of the U.S. railway network giving access to new markets.”
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There's always cultured and meat-free meats

If you’re finding this all a little hard to swallow, keep your sights set on cultured meat as a possible alternative. There are also hundreds of options on the market right now for vegan mock meats, many of which are absolutely delicious.

At the end of the day, there is one last alternative that doesn’t require brushing up on entomology or drastically increasing your vital wheat gluten intake: just eat less meat. Incorporating “Meatless Mondays” into your weekly diet, choosing pasture-raised meats and opting for dairy-free dishes is a great start—and is an excellent step toward incorporating “reducetarianism” into your everyday life.    


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