Insect meat is the new beefS

Cattle and other livestock create tons of damaging greenhouse gases, particularly when you consider everything humans have to do to turn a cow in a field into dinner on your plate. There may be one environmentally friendly solution: eating bugs.

Yes, that's the conclusion reached by Dutch researchers at Wageningen University, who have been looking for the most sustainable form of protein production. Even when you consider how many insects you would need to equal the meat of a single pig or cow, the difference is enormous. For instance, a pig produces anywhere between ten and a hundred times as much greenhouse gases per kilogram as mealworms would.

Ammonia emissions also seem to drop dramatically. Pigs create about ten times as much ammonia per kilogram as crickets do, and perhaps fifty times as much as locusts. Considering ammonia can wreak havoc on the acidity of groundwater, a big reduction like that could have tremendous benefits for the land as a whole.

As a bonus, insects convert food into meat far more quickly, meaning you won't have to wait around long for some of that delicious, delicious insect meat. The researchers still need to figure out how insect meat fits into the larger production chain, and whether it remains as environmentally friendly once you move into the processing and shipping aspects of meat production.

Still, whatever the specifics, this is hopefully a nice bit of added motivation to get a little more serious about greenhouse gases. After all, if we don't get them under control, we might have to start eating bugs...and no, lobsters don't count. Me, I think I'd just switch to vegetarianism, and I never thought anything could make me say that.

[PLoS ONE]