One of the main arguments insect food companies bring out in their communication is comparing the environmental impact of insects to conventional meats like beef, pork, fish and chicken. There is no denying that insects are clearly the best choice from this group, but in most cases comparing insects to other animals is not relevant.
The example picture above is from LEAP Pure Cricket Powder- Facebook page.
The most relevant category to place insects is not “the environmental impact of animal based foods”, but wider “environmental impact of high protein foods” that includes a large variety of plant based foods as well.
In this more relevant category, whether the comparison is about consumption of water, creation of green house gases or feed conversion rate, crickets show up just as a better chicken. From environment’s perspective best options are plant based options like pulses and plant based protein products. Additionally, plant based proteins clear out of many other issues like ethical questions related to animal farming, use of antibiotics and cultural acceptance.
It is important to understand that we are now talking about industrial scale farming where using of bio waste as insect feed is not possible for multiple reasons. For low scale farming where using of bio waste is possible insects are excellent option even over plants.
You might have noticed that in the given infograph it is said that insect consume less water than pulses. This might be true, but it depends on how the water is delivered to crickets. Is it open water or through feed? When comparing the water consumption of animals the combined impact of drinking water and the water used in the farming of the feed should be considered.
There are plenty of reasons to eat insects, but if you are looking for the best environmental choice, industrially farmed insects are not the one.
- Using biowaste as insect feed. Pros and cons: https://ilkkataponen.com/2015/08/20/using-bio-waste-as-feed-for-farmed-insects/
- Why insects are best suited for animal feed: https://ilkkataponen.com/2015/12/16/insect-farming-is-best-suited-for-the-production-of-animal-feed/