The year was 2017, and the demand for animal protein was on the rise. The forests of Madagascar were being destroyed to make space for livestock. Surprisingly, the solution wasn’t technology; it was insects.
Cricket specialist Sylvain Hugel and ant specialist Brian Fisher had been studying the insects of Madagascar, but started to realize that their habitat was disappearing. If they didn’t do anything about the increase in livestock farming, they wouldn’t be able to continue their research in Madagascar. Their solution? A cricket farm. Crickets are protein and fiber rich, not to mention actually delicious (according to Hugel).
That's right, insects have the potential to replace traditional meats.
This is actually great news, given the multitude of negative effects that farming traditional livestock has on the environment, including the destruction of forests and methane gas produced from cattle farming.
Insect farming doesn’t require as much land and water as traditional livestock farming does, and certain insects even contain higher sources of minerals compared to beef. However, there is a major concern with this new solution. Selling the idea to the general public. The idea of, say, biting into a burger and getting a mouthful of grasshopper doesn’t exactly sound appetizing if you haven’t tasted grasshopper. Yet with environmental activism taking the spotlight, competing with traditional meats may actually be possible. Cicada dumplings, cricket pasta, cricket chips, and other insect delicacies have started gaining popularity among the environmentally conscious.
“[Insects are] never going to 100% replace meat, but those of us who are health conscious and environmentally aware have already started making that transition,” says Jenna Jadin, biologist and author of a cicada cookbook, in a TIMES article. So for the sake of our planet, maybe it's time for society as a whole to start considering this change in diet.