Bring on the Bugs! Young Britons Are Ready for Ethical, Sustainable Protein

CC BY-NC-SA 2.0. Little Herds – Roasted mealworms

A new survey finds that young people expect bugs to be a normal part of our diets within a decade.

If the thought of munching insects fills you with horror, you might want to reevaluate your stance and practice eating a few. A recent YouGov poll in Britain found that more than one third of the population (37 percent) thinks we'll all be eating more insects within the next decade. The results are even higher among younger people, with half of those aged 18 to 24 saying they expect bugs on the menu by then.

This curious finding reflects the public's attitude toward food security, and the belief that we need to find alternative food sources in the coming years. There are numerous factors at play, including a changing climate that is increasingly fickle, diseases and pests that are spreading at a rapid rate, and a human population that's showing no sign of slowing down. Add to that an increasing awareness about the negative impact of meat production, and the market for insects could be poised on the brink of massive expansion.

The Guardian reports,

"Unlike cows or pigs, insects can be bred in significant numbers without taking up large amounts of land, water or feed. Insects are also nutritious, containing essential proteins, fats, minerals and amino acids. Bugs for consumption are typically bred in large-scale factory conditions."
©. K Martinko

© K Martinko

Edible insect marketers will be particularly thrilled by these poll numbers, as many believe that the future of insects depends on getting younger people on board. Kids are often willing to try things that would shock parents because they do not have the same reactions and learned stigmas that adults do. I cited a 2013 study in an earlier article on this topic that stated:

"[Children] have a deeper concern for following environmental rules (such as not carving names into trees or not stepping on flowers) than for following social rules (such as not picking your nose or being a messy eater). This could conceivably manifest in kids not only wanting to protect the natural world but also being able to ignore stigmas — even in the kitchen — that would thwart conservation efforts."

If so many young Britons think we'll be eating insects in a decade, then we probably will be – because they're the ones who will be buying them and feeding them to their children, thus normalizing the behavior.