Why you should start eating more insects

03 October 2022
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Believe it or not, insects are a great way to improve your diet while also bringing down the effects of global warming. More than 2 billion people - or a quarter of the world’s population - eat insects as part of their daily diet. The UN actually recommends that the Western world should start eating more insects, as this could help to reduce pollution and curb world hunger. 

Meats are all really enjoyable foods to eat and will probably always be consumed. However, as the world starts to look to ways to reduce global emissions, is it time to start looking at ways to improve our diet and put less pressure on the climate? 

Below I will discuss some of the reasons in favour of entomophagy (eating insects).

Nutritional Information

Insects are a great source of omega 3 and 6, vitamins, and minerals. Insects are also low in fat and cholesterol; while meat contains 48% fat on average, insects average around just 16% fat. 

Insects are sources of carbohydrates, whereas traditional meat isn’t. On average, an insect contains 17 – 18 grams of carbs per 100 grams. Most insects contain a relatively low carb value; chitin fibre, the carbohydrate found in insects, is a structural carbohydrate and not a reserve.

Insects are a great source of protein and contain more protein than standard meats. To put this in perspective, eating five locusts is the same as getting the protein intake from a whole beef steak. A locust is about 72% protein, whereas a beef steak is about 52% protein. In terms of fitness, some athletes are gradually moving towards entomophagy to tap their need for protein.

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Mind Over Matter

When we think of food, we think of things like steak, chicken, bread, vegetables etc. These are foods we have been brought up on and are used to eating. Because these foods are tasty - and because we’re so used to eating them - we don’t think twice when we consume them. So, when it comes to crunching on a full insect, it’s no surprise that we think twice! If the thought of eating a whole cricket is off-putting, try eating bread made from cricket flour to start with. 

Meat is so readily available that we don’t really need to start looking for other sources of protein. Where insects are being eaten, it is usually out of necessity. If meat suddenly became unavailable in New Zealand, we would be more likely to start considering insects as an actual option.


The cost of living is currently skyrocketing in New Zealand and across the world, and everyday foods are becoming more expensive. Insects are a potential solution as they require much fewer expenses to farm, feed and kill etc. Various New Zealand companies have set up insect-eating businesses, but their products have not sold in enough quantities to create a viable business, meaning they have either gone under, or they have had to keep their prices higher due to supply and demand.

Farming Insects

Insect farming has been shown to be far better for the environment and takes up much less space compared to conventional breeding. To put this in perspective, cattle farming requires 50 to 200 m² of space to produce 1 kg of protein. However, insect farming requires just  5 to 15 m² to produce the same amount of protein. Farming cows also comes with other issues; for example, did you know that cattle are the top agricultural source of greenhouse gases worldwide? Each year, a single cow will belch almost 100 kg of methane.

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What are the ethics around eating insects?

At the moment, around 1.2 trillion farmed insects are killed each year to be used as animal feed in human feed, and that looks to rise. There are also 2 trillion wild insects caught each year to be used as food for humans. They are killed in a variety of ways, from being frozen en masse, put in a grinder and turned into powder, steamed, boiled or cooked alive. Is it ethical for us to do this to insects? The question comes down to whether insects can feel or not. 

Insects have a nervous system and pain receptors. There have been some interesting tests done around this. For example, crickets have been shown to react to morphine. Two sets of crickets were left in a box with a heater; one group was given morphine, while the others weren’t. The crickets with morphine stayed in the box much longer, whereas the crickets without morphine jumped out much earlier. The crickets with morphine even showed some signs of morphine addiction once the morphine was no longer given to them. 

So, is it ethically okay for us to kill insects that have been shown to have pain receptors and a nervous system? Or is it just ethically better than killing animals en masse? 

There is no easy answer to these questions.


If we can get past the ‘gross factor’ and add more insects into our diet, we will not only improve our diet, but we could also help to make living on the earth more sustainable in the future. 

Below are some ways you can try eating insects:

Grasshopper Stir-fry


  • 60 Edible Organic Grasshoppers
  • 150g Pak Choi
  • 100g Broccoli
  • 75g Green Beans
  • 75g Mangetout
  • 1 Red Onion, Sliced
  • 2 Cloves of Garlic, Diced
  • 2 Fresh Red Chillies, Thinly Sliced
  • 1 Small Piece of Ginger, Grated
  • 8g Sesame Seeds (Half Black and Half White if Possible)
  • 1 Teaspoon Sesame Oil
  • 1 Teaspoon Coconut Oil
  • Coriander (to garnish)

Key Info:

Prep: 15 mins
Cooking: 10 mins
Serves: 4
Rating: Easy

Pre-heat the oven to 180 degrees before preparing the grasshoppers. To do this take off the wings and legs and place on a baking tray. They will need about eight minutes to turn golden brown, but check on them half way through as they can burn very quickly.

While the grasshoppers are roasting, prepare all of your vegetables for the stir fry and add them to a hot wok with the coconut oil. Cook on a high heat for four minutes.

Once the grasshoppers are roasted, add to a bowl and mix with the sesame oil and seeds before adding to the wok with the vegetables. Toss all of the ingredients to ensure they are well mixed and serve. Garnish with freshly-chopped chilli and coriander and serve.

Choc Chip Cookies


  • 2 ¼ cups cricket flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 cup butter, softened
  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 12-ounce package chocolate chips
  • ½ cup dry-roasted chopped crickets

Directions/Instructions Checklist

Step 1

Preheat oven to 375 degrees

Step 2

In small bowl, combine flour, baking soda and salt; set aside. In large bowl, combine butter, sugar, brown sugar and vanilla; beat until creamy. Beat in eggs. Gradually add cricket flour mixture and mix well. Stir in chopped crickets and chocolate chips.

Step 3

Drop by rounded measuring teaspoonfuls onto ungreased cookie sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes.

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