Eat insects as meat alternative, says govt report

© Regis Duvignau
Creepy, crawly critters should be on the menu as an environmentally-friendly alternative to meat, a report has suggested, claiming insects provide a natural source of protein.

A report released on Thursday by the government’s Waste and Resources Action Programme (WRAP) said getting picky eaters to overcome the “yuk factor” of eating bugs would be a big challenge.

WRAP, whose report is designed to examine challenges facing the food production system over the next ten years, says creating sustainable protein will be a major problem for the human race and “one of the defining challenges of the coming decades.”

“Novel foods in Western diets will incorporate insects to some degree, in a similar way to the spread of sushi from Japan in 2000s, but the major growth will be for feed to livestock,” the report notes.

The report also suggests humans should eat more seaweed because the plant has “high nutritional value.” Seaweed can contain 65 to 90 percent protein.

They also suggest a move toward processed meats, as they can be produced using far less energy and resources than intensively farming animals. Processed meat uses 99 percent less land to produce and emits 96 percent less greenhouse gasses.

The director of sustainable food systems at WRAP, Richard Swannell, said current natural resources are being strained as the world population rises.

“We are in danger of, by 2020, the land that is available to us that is productive from an agricultural perspective, being pushed to its limits. So if we can find alternative protein sources that reduce the need for land use or land use change then that’s a really good thing to look for,” he said.

Meat is currently the world’s biggest source of dietary protein, but it requires huge amounts of land for feed and grazing. Beef uses 28 times more land per kilogram than some other meats, and 160 times more than some carbohydrates.

In 2014, one team of American scientists claimed that giving up beef would reduce people’s carbon footprints more than giving up travelling by car.

Think tank Chatham House has suggested the reason governments and food retailers have not pushed for more change is because they fear a consumer backlash.

The WRAP report says that ground cricket flour has already been adopted as a source of protein in the US.

Swannell added “the adoption of insects as a protein in animal diets will be more straightforward.

The group’s report echoes thoughts outlined in the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) report on climate change published last year.

The IPCC said it is essential the human race’s appetite for meat is curbed to prevent rising global temperatures.