Ask The Entomophagist

Dear Daniella,

I was wondering if I could replace meat like beef, pork, etc. with bugs? I see entomophagy as a healthier option but I fear I’d be missing out on certain nutrients to completely do away with animals. What do you think? What’s your experience? Suggestions for a beginner? I’m 13 by the way if that changes anything.

Lafeyette

Dear Lafeyette,

Interesting question. Since I’m not a licensed nutritionist, I’m not qualified to advise you on your diet – and I’d certainly be hesitant to advise someone who is still growing! And, of course, since you’re a minor, you’d have to have your parents on board. If you’re allergic to shellfish, you may have some problems with eating insects.

I will say that there are plenty of people who eat vegetarian diets, though a typical vegetarian diet includes animal protein through dairy and eggs.

History and culture might be other perspectives to consider. Cultures that have eaten and still do eat insects tend to eat them as complements to other types of meat instead of as a complete substitute.

If you wanted to go, say, lacto-ovo (dairy & egg) vegetarian with insects, I’d imagine you’d get enough nutrition. Veganism can be tricky, so I wouldn’t recommend experimenting with it until you’re older, even if you are eating insects. You really don’t want to mess around with your physical development at this point.

Theoretically, could a fully-grown vegan get enough nutrition if the only animal protein they got was through insects? Probably, since insects provide vitamin B12, which is one of the key vitamins lacking in a vegan diet.

Suggestions for a beginner:

You could start out with some of the “cricket flours” available at places like NextMillenniumFarms.com. You could add these into things like smoothies, soups or baked goods. Also, you can order cricket-based protein bars from companies like Chapul, Hopper Bars, or Exo.

If you’re a little more adventurous, you could order live insects from a farm (see my “Where to get bugs” page), freeze them overnight, wash them and then add them to whatever recipe you’re making. You can toast crickets or waxworms in the oven and grind them in a blender to make flour, or sprinkle them whole on salads and such or season them and eat them as snacks. You can also just treat them like shrimp and stir fry them with vegetables. Treat them like shrimp in terms of food preservation, as well.

Not to hawk my wares, but my book, Edible: An Adventure into the World of Edible Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet, has a bunch of my favorite recipes and advice for beginners.

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4 responses to “Ask The Entomophagist

  1. Hi Daniella, I edit the food pages of a digital news website here in the UK and I am interested in running a Q&A style interview with you. Would you be interested? I can be reached via nicmillerstale@yahoo.co.uk. Thank you.

  2. I am doing a report on eating bugs and i was wondering about the hygiene issues with eating insects? More specifically crickets. Thanks!

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