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Potential for Insects to Become a Common Food Source in the Western Diet

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For the past few years, entomophagy – the act of eating insects – has increased significantly. With the first pop-up ‘Pestaurant’ – pest-only restaurant – appearing in London it is only natural to wonder if insects will become a common food source in the Western diet (Fill, 2016: 662). All around the world the entomophagy culture is growing rapidly with many restaurants and shops sealing insect-based food, drinks and groceries. It is still a very controversial topic for a large part of the population but its growing in popularity each passing day thanks to the understanding of the ecological, financial and nutritional potential (Ali, 2016: 392).

For some continents such as Africa, Asia and Latin America the practice of entomophagy is very common, given the high percentage of edible insects (Huis, 2014: 15). Even though not all, there are many species of insects that hold mostly protein, fiber and fat, which makes them highly nutritional for any diet (Huis, 2014: 67).

It is very hard to further evaluate insects nutritionally wise since there is a great deal of different species. The general insect holds between 35% to 77% of protein, is rich in B vitamin and fulfils the amino acids requirements set by the World Health Organization (WHO), the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations University (UNU) (Nadathur, 2017: 345-346). In fact, insects are generally so nutritious that FAO suggested their consumption to replace the ‘normal’ protein (Patel, 2019: 354).

As consumers, Western culture does not see insects as a food source. Insects are still seen as pests, annoying or even disgusting which causes an immediate discomfort when presented with the idea of it becoming a protein source (Nadathur, 2017: 347).

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Despite the fact that entomophagy is considered to be a taboo subject or looked down upon by many people, it is hard to ignore the amount of advantages that it brings especially environmentally and financially. For starters it is much easier than the traditional livestock. Insects reproduce faster, they do not require nearly as much water and they do not need to be fed. This makes the whole process not only cheaper but also much more environmentally friendly when compared to traditional rearing (Gahukar, 2011: 130).

Entomophagy can also be profitable when thinking about the future. With the estimated population growth and the increase of meat consumption, food security will be at risk. If insects were added to the Western diet as a sustainable protein source that would prevent the possible world hunger (Gahukar, 2011: 129; Nadathur, 2017: 383).

Although the Western diet could benefit greatly from adding insects as a food source, there are also some things to be aware of. Infections and toxins are what when farming insects should be looked out for. When insect rearing is not done properly it can become a risk for human health (Nadathur, 2017: 345). Nevertheless, there are various cultures and populations that already see insects as a delicacy. For example, in some parts of China it is normal to eat fried honey bees, and in Japan there are many popular insect-based dishes, such as, hachinoko, which consists of boiled wasp larvae, fried silk moth pupae (sangi) and aquatic insect larvae also known as zazamushi (Patel, 2019: 354).

In the final analysis, practicing entomophagy would be very beneficent, not only nutritionally wise, but also environmentally and financially. With the growing popularity and with the increase in awareness for a need of a new sustainable protein source it seems very likely that insects will eventually become part of the Western diet. Just as happened with all the different types of veganism, people will start to adhere more and more once they notice the massive impact it has on the world.


  1. Ali, A. (2016). ‘A Semiotic Approach to Entomophagy’. Perspectives on Global Development and Technology. 15(4), 391-405.
  2. Fill, C. (2016). Marketing Communications. 7th edition. Pearson.
  3. Gahukar, R. T. (2011). ‘Entomophagy and Human Food Security’. International Journal of Tropical Insect Science. 31(3), 129-144.
  4. Huis, A. (2014). Edible Insects: Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security. Rome, Italy: Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations.
  5. Nadathur, S.R. (2017). Sustainable Protein Sources. Netherlands, Amsterdam: Academic Press.
  6. Patel, S. (2019). ‘Edible Insects as Innovative Foods: Nutritional and Functional Assessments’. Trends in Food Science & Technology. 86, 352-359.

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Potential for Insects to Become a Common Food Source in the Western Diet. (2023, March 01). Edubirdie. Retrieved June 8, 2023, from
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