pros and cons of eating insects

Pros and Cons of Eating Insects for Survival

Hello, fellow adventurers! So, you’ve embarked on this thrilling journey of prepping and survival. Excellent choice! If you’re like me, you’ve realized that when the chips are down, the world is your oyster. And by “oyster,” I mean your kitchen, pantry, and grocery store all rolled into one. Bugs are a great option when you’re running out of food, but its the wrong time to weight the pros and cons of eating insects.

The following are tips and tricks to help you find the ideal solution for when you’ve run through most of your stockpile.


Pros and Cons of Eating Insects for Survival

You’re not just limited to your traditional game like deer, rabbit, and squirrel. There’s another food source waiting for you – an insect buffet. Yes, folks, it’s time to dive head-first into the world of edible insects!

Pros Cons
Nutritionally Rich: Insects are a great source of protein and essential nutrients. For instance, crickets can contain up to 65% protein. Food Safety Concerns: Wild-caught insects might carry parasites or have been exposed to pesticides. Proper sourcing and preparation are necessary.
Sustainable: Insect farming uses fewer resources and produces less greenhouse gas compared to traditional livestock farming. It can also convert waste into food. Allergy Risk: Insects can trigger allergic reactions, especially in people with shellfish allergies due to similar protein structures.
Cultural Acceptance: Over 2 billion people worldwide include insects in their diet. In many cultures, eating insects is the norm. The ‘Ick’ Factor: Many people, particularly in Western cultures, are squeamish about the idea of eating insects, which could limit their acceptance.
Potential Food Security Solution: As per the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), farming insects for human consumption could contribute to future food security. Ethical Debates: The ethics of farming and consuming insects are up for debate, and it’s crucial for the industry to develop in a humane and sustainable manner.
Regulated Practice: In many countries, farming insects and their consumption are regulated, maintaining food safety standards. Regulatory Differences: The regulations around farming and consumption can vary across countries, creating some confusion and inconsistency in practices.

Why You Might Want to Eat Bugs

In essence, these tiny critters could play a significant role in global nutrition and food security, making them an attractive alternative for survivalists and environmental enthusiasts alike. And remember, being open to new food sources, especially highly sustainable and nutritious ones like insects, could be a real game-changer in a survival scenario.

Key Takeaways

  • Insects pack a high protein content and essential nutrients, rivaling traditional livestock.
  • Insect farming is resource-efficient and turns waste into food.
  • Over 2 billion people globally incorporate insects into their diets.
  • Wild insects can carry parasites, pesticides, and bacteria, posing health risks.
  • Insects may trigger allergic reactions, especially in people with shellfish allergies.
  • Eating insects can be a psychological hurdle for some.
  • Know your insect source and cook them properly to avoid potential health risks.
  • Begin with insect-derived products like insect protein bars or cricket flour.
  • As insect farming grows, ethical concerns around humane treatment are raised.
  • Insect farming and consumption are regulated for safety and sustainability.
  • Insects can be creatively added into meals, offering a new culinary experience.

Who knew the keys to survival might be buzzing right under our noses?

1. Nutritional Goldmines

Many of us might squirm at the idea of chomping on a cricket or a beetle, but the truth is these tiny creatures are a treasure trove of essential nutrients. Let’s break down some nutritional facts about our little friends.

Protein Packed Powerhouses

First and foremost, insects are excellent sources of protein(1). This macronutrient is critical for body growth and repair, and is a vital component of every cell in our body. The protein content in many edible insects can compete with traditional livestock, and in some cases, even surpass them.

To give you a better picture, here’s a table comparing the protein content of a few popular edible insects with some common meat sources:

Food Protein content (per 100g)
Adult Crickets Up to 65%
Mealworms Around 50%
Grasshoppers Between 20-46%
Beef (Lean Ground) Approximately 26%
Chicken Breast (Cooked) Around 31%

As you can see, edible insects such as adult crickets and mealworms offer a significant protein punch. Now imagine the possibilities when these are ground into a powder or flour and used in everyday processed foods. Your morning pancake could potentially hold as much protein as your post-workout chicken breast.

Vitamins and Essential Nutrients Galore

Aside from protein, insects are also rich in a host of vitamins and minerals. For instance, crickets are a great source of Vitamin B12, a nutrient that supports brain health and helps in the production of red blood cells. Additionally, many insects are rich in iron, zinc, and magnesium, nutrients that are critical for a multitude of bodily functions(2).

Here’s a short comparison to help visualize the nutritional edge insect species may have over traditional meat:

Nutrient Cricket (per 100g) Beef (per 100g)
Vitamin B12 About 5 mcg Approximately 2.5 mcg
Iron Around 9.5 mg Roughly 2.7 mg

This demonstrates how insects, despite their size, are nutrient-dense powerhouses. They have the potential to provide significant portions of the recommended daily intake of many essential nutrients.

Emerging Food Industry Trends

The world is starting to recognize the nutritional potential of insects, and insect-derived ingredients are gaining popularity. Products like insect protein powder, insect flour, protein bars made with insects, and even insect-based pasta are hitting the shelves. These products allow people to reap the nutritional benefits of insects without having to bite into a bug.

pros and cons of eating insects

2. Sustainable Food Source

The environment’s siren call for sustainable practices is getting louder, and our diet choices can significantly influence our ecological footprint. Enter, insects. These tiny critters aren’t just nutritional powerhouses but also champions of sustainability. Let’s explore this further.

Less Is More: The Efficiency of Insect Farming

When comparing insect farming to traditional livestock farming, there’s a world of difference in terms of environmental impact(3). Here’s why:

Water Use: Insect farming requires drastically less water than livestock farming. This is crucial, especially considering that freshwater resources are under immense strain due to climate change and population growth.

Land Use: As a survivalist, you know how important space is. Insects require far less land to farm than cattle, poultry, or pigs. This can help reduce deforestation and habitat destruction caused by the expansion of livestock farms.

Greenhouse Gas Emissions: Insect farming results in significantly lower greenhouse gas emissions. Livestock farming is a major contributor to global greenhouse gas emissions, but farming insects will produce only a fraction of these harmful gases.

To illustrate these points, let’s compare the resources used to produce 1 kg of insect protein vs. traditional livestock:

Resource Insect Protein Beef Protein Pork Protein Poultry Protein
Water 1 liter 15,500 liters 6,000 liters 4,325 liters
Land 15 m² 200 m² 75 m² 50 m²
GHG Emissions 2 kg CO2 27 kg CO2 12 kg CO2 7 kg CO2

As you can see, the environmental benefits of insect farming are nothing short of astounding. Embracing insects as a food source could significantly lighten our environmental footprint.

Waste Not, Want Not: Turning Trash into Treasure

Insects aren’t picky eaters. Insects feed on a broad spectrum of organic waste — from kitchen scraps, rotting food, and agricultural by-products to human and animal waste. This versatility offers a unique advantage: transforming our waste problem into a solution.

Not only can insects help manage waste, but they also turn it into high-quality protein and nutrients. This waste-to-nutrient cycle could play a crucial role in sustainable food systems and circular economies.

Future of Food Security

According to the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), insect farming could be key to food security in the future. With the global population expected to reach nearly 10 billion by 2050, finding efficient and sustainable ways to feed everyone is paramount. Insects could be part of the solution, providing a sustainable source of protein and essential nutrients for people worldwide(4).

pros and cons of eating insects

3. Cultural Acceptance

Now, let’s tackle the cultural side of the coin. In many parts of the world, the practice of eating insects, known as entomophagy, isn’t just a survival strategy or a sustainability move. It’s deeply rooted in the culture and tradition. In fact, it’s quite likely that the ‘eww’ factor you might be feeling right now is a cultural construct too!

Insect Cuisine Around the Globe

Over 2 billion people worldwide regularly include insects in their diet, and they’re not just doing it for survival. These folks savor their six-legged delicacies. Here’s a little taste of how some cultures relish their critters:

  • Thailand: Roasted grasshoppers are a common street food. Seasoned with soy sauce, sugar, and pepper, these crispy critters are often enjoyed with a cold beer.
  • Mexico: Roasted mealworms, known as ‘gusanos de maguey’, are a popular topping for tacos and other traditional dishes.
  • South Africa: Mopane worms, a type of large caterpillar, are a high-protein staple food, often dried and rehydrated in delicious sauces.
  • Japan: In some regions, wasps are mixed with rice to create a type of sushi known as ‘hachinoko’.
  • Australia: Witchetty grubs have been a significant part of Aboriginal diets for thousands of years, often roasted over coals or eaten raw.

If we take a step back and look at the global picture, it seems like it’s the Western world that’s playing catch-up when it comes to embracing insects as food!

Insects: The Food of the Future?

The edible insect industry is buzzing with potential. As environmental concerns mount and the need for sustainable protein sources increases, more people are looking at insects as a viable option.

Food companies are experimenting with insect-based products, from cricket flour for baking to insect protein bars for fitness enthusiasts. There’s even insect-based pet food on the market now! The trend towards insects isn’t just about survival anymore; it’s becoming a lifestyle choice for those conscious of their health and environmental impact.

In the West, the cultural taboo around eating insects is gradually shifting. Innovative chefs are introducing insects into their menus, while food startups are creating insect-based products that are more palatable to Western tastes. It’s not far-fetched to think that in a few years, insect-based dishes might be as mainstream as sushi is today.

Edible Insects May Surprise You

To wrap it up, the thought of munching on insects might give you the creepy-crawlies now, but remember: culinary preferences are often a matter of habit and exposure. So, are you ready to join over 2 billion people and welcome insects into your diet? Only time will tell if you’ll be swapping your beef burger for a crunchy cricket one!

Remember, survival isn’t just about adapting to your environment; it’s also about expanding your horizons, challenging your preconceived notions, and learning from the wisdom of cultures around the world. Who knows? You might find that a diet enriched with insects is more than a survival tactic; it might be a gateway to exploring diverse cultures and cuisines.

Bugging Out: The Downsides of Insect Consumption

While you’re exploring the world of entomophagy (bug-eating, in simpler terms), make sure you’re doing it safely. Eating insects could be an interesting and nutritious addition to your survival toolkit – if you know how to navigate the challenges.

1. Food Safety Concerns

Venturing out into the wild and snagging your own six-legged dinner may sound like an exciting survival adventure. However, this approach is not without its unique challenges. Here’s a closer look at the food safety issues that come into play with wild-caught insects:


Just like larger game, insects in the wild can be carriers of various parasites. Consuming raw or improperly cooked insects could lead to parasitic infections, with symptoms ranging from minor digestive discomfort to more serious health complications. To avoid this, it’s crucial to cook your insects thoroughly.

Exposure to Pesticides and Other Chemicals

Insects found in urban areas or near agricultural fields may have been exposed to pesticides or other harmful chemicals. These substances can accumulate in their bodies and potentially pose a risk when consumed. Therefore, it’s recommended to source your insects from reputable farms or wild areas known to be free of chemical contaminants.

Bacterial and Microbial Contamination

Wild insects can harbor various types of bacteria, including spore-bearing species that are resistant to heat and can survive cooking. This, along with other microbial fauna, can pose food safety hazards. Therefore, just like any other meat, insects should be properly cleaned and cooked before consumption.

Protective Measures for Food Safety

To ensure you’re getting your protein boost without the risk, here are a few measures you can take:

  • Cook Thoroughly: Heat is effective at killing most parasites and bacteria. Roasting, boiling, or frying your insects can help ensure they’re safe to eat.
  • Source Responsibly: Opt for insects sourced from reputable farms or suppliers who maintain high standards of food safety.
  • Practice Good Hygiene: Just like any other food preparation, ensure your hands, utensils, and cooking surfaces are clean before and after handling insects.

2. Allergy Alert

For most people, the idea of an insect crawling on their skin is enough to make them squirm. But for some, the very act of eating these critters can cause more than discomfort; it can trigger allergic reactions. Let’s delve into this:

Allergy 101: The Shellfish-Insect Connection

It’s quite fascinating – in a somewhat creepy-crawly kind of way – that insects and shellfish share a similar protein structure. One of these shared substances is chitin, a fibrous substance that forms the exoskeleton of insects and the shells of crustaceans. This commonality can cause problems for people with shellfish allergies, as their immune systems may not distinguish between the proteins found in shellfish and those in insects, triggering an allergic reaction.

Identifying an Allergic Reaction

An allergic reaction to eating insects can manifest in various ways, not unlike typical food allergies. Symptoms can range from mild to severe and may include itching, hives, swelling of the lips or tongue, difficulty breathing, abdominal pain, and even anaphylaxis in severe cases. If you have a known shellfish allergy and experience these symptoms after eating insects, seek immediate medical attention.

Managing Allergies

Here are a few precautionary measures if you have a shellfish allergy or any other food allergy and are considering adding insects to your diet:

  • Trial and Error: Try a small amount of a particular insect to see if you have an allergic reaction. If you show no symptoms, it’s likely safe for you to consume. However, do this under supervision and with access to medical help, just in case you have a severe reaction.
  • Knowledge is Power: Make sure you’re aware of your allergies and the potential risks before trying insects. If you’re not sure about your allergies, consider getting tested.
  • Read Labels: If you’re purchasing commercially available insect-based products, be sure to read the labels. They should provide information about potential allergens.

While the thought of munching on mealworms or crunching on crickets might not be appealing to everyone, it’s worth remembering that for those without allergies, insects can provide an eco-friendly, nutrient-dense and nutritious food source. But if your body disagrees, there’s no harm in sticking with more traditional protein sources.

3. Ick Factor

Here’s the crunchy truth, folks: even if insects are little nutritional powerhouses, they’re not exactly a mouth-watering prospect for a lot of us. This “ick factor” is a significant roadblock to incorporating bugs into our diet. But let’s dissect this a bit more:

A Bug’s Life is Not a Bug’s Lunch

The revulsion many of us feel towards the idea of eating bugs and insects is largely due to cultural conditioning. In many Western societies, insects are seen as pests, not as potential food sources. They’re associated with disease and dirt, and we’re conditioned to swat them away, not salivate over them. Our media doesn’t help much, often portraying bug-eating as a bizarre stunt or a survivalist’s last resort.

Mind Over Mealworm

This mental hurdle is perhaps the most challenging aspect of introducing insects into the human diet, even more than the actual taste or texture of the bugs. Yet, as with any new food, it might take some getting used to. Remember the first time you tried sushi or blue cheese? Those were probably acquired tastes, too!

Rebranding Bugs: From Creepy-Crawlies to Culinary Delights

One of the ways to overcome this “ick factor” is by presenting insects in a more appealing way. This is where chefs and food innovators can step in, experimenting with different ways to prepare insects and incorporate them into dishes that are not only nutritious but also tasty. Imagine cricket flour brownies, ant-encrusted garnishes, or a juicy burger made of mealworms. It’s all about presentation and perception.

Start Small

Another strategy is to start small and gradually get accustomed to the idea. Instead of digging into a whole fried tarantula, you might want to begin with insect-based products like protein bars or pasta made from insect flour. These products usually don’t look much different from their non-insect counterparts, and this might make the transition easier.

Entomophagy Education

Ultimately, increasing our understanding of entomophagy (that’s the fancy term for insect-eating) can help normalize the practice. Education about the nutritional and environmental benefits of insects, as well as an understanding of how many cultures around the world regularly include insects in their diet, could go a long way towards turning the tide of public opinion.

In the end, it’s all about stepping out of your comfort zone. Remember, survival isn’t always about comfort; it’s about adaptation.

Winging It: Navigating the Bugs and the Bees of Entomophagy

The journey into entomophagy (aka eating insects) isn’t as scary as it might sound. In fact, with some guidance and a dash of adventurous spirit, you might find it to be a fascinating gastronomic adventure.

Here’s a short guide on navigating the bugs and the bees of entomophagy:

Be Aware of Your Source

  1. Reputable Insect Farms: Just as you’d want to know the source of your fruits, vegetables, and meats, the same goes for your insect intake. Look for insect farms that adhere to strict safety and quality standards. Remember, responsible farming practices not only guarantee the nutritional quality of your bugs but also ensure sustainable farming methods are being used.
  2. Accredited Sellers: It’s also essential to buy from accredited sellers who can provide a certificate of analysis for their products. This certificate verifies the product’s quality, purity, and safety, adding an extra layer of assurance.

Cook It Right

  1. Why Cooking Matters: Insects, like other meats, need to be cooked correctly to eliminate potential parasites and bacteria. Besides, cooking can enhance the flavor and texture of insects, making them more appealing to the palate.
  2. Cooking Techniques: Roasting, sautéing, frying, and baking are popular methods of preparing edible insects. Some people even like to blend insects into a powder and use it in baking or smoothies. The key is to experiment with different cooking techniques to find the one that suits your taste best.

Ease Into It

  1. Start with Insect-Derived Products: Jumping straight into munching on whole insects might be a big leap for some. So, consider beginning your journey with insect-derived products. These could include cricket flour, protein bars made from insects, or even insect-based pasta. These products usually mask the appearance of insects, making the transition smoother.
  2. Try Incorporating into Familiar Dishes: Another way to ease into insect consumption is by incorporating them into familiar dishes. For instance, cricket flour can be used to make pancakes or cookies, and mealworms can be used as a protein-rich topping on salads or pizzas.

Open Your Mind

The most important step in navigating the world of entomophagy is to open your mind. Embrace the adventure, explore new flavors, and take pride in knowing that you’re participating in a sustainable food trend that could benefit our planet significantly.

eating bugs for survival

Ethical Concerns Related to Entomophagy

The debate around the ethics of consuming insects, or entomophagy, is an increasingly relevant discourse as we search for sustainable food sources. Although we eat insects that are lower on the cognitive spectrum than traditional livestock, their welfare in farming practices cannot be ignored. Here’s a deep dive into the ethical considerations:

Insect Sentience and Suffering

  1. Understanding Insect Sentience: Scientific research is still inconclusive about the level of consciousness in insects, and whether they experience pain and suffering like mammals do. Nevertheless, out of an abundance of caution and respect for all life forms, it’s important to minimize any potential distress in insect farming.
  2. Humane Killing Methods: If insects are indeed capable of experiencing discomfort or suffering, the methods used to ‘harvest’ or kill them should be as humane as possible. For instance, some researchers propose that insects could be put into a dormant state through refrigeration before being killed, a process thought to be less stressful for the insects.

Sustainability in Insect Farming

  1. Resource Management: While insect farming is significantly less resource-intensive than traditional livestock farming, it still requires careful management of resources to ensure its sustainability. This includes efficient use of water, energy, and feed, as well as responsible waste management.
  2. Biodiversity: Insect farming should also take into account the preservation of biodiversity. Farming a limited number of species on a large scale could impact ecosystems negatively by reducing genetic diversity and potentially facilitating the spread of diseases.

Social and Economic Equity

  1. Fair Trade: As the edible insect industry grows, it’s important to ensure that those involved in insect farming – particularly in low-income countries – receive a fair price for their products and work under safe conditions.
  2. Accessibility: Insect-based foods should be made accessible and affordable for all sections of society, particularly since they have the potential to significantly contribute to food security.

As the insect farming industry continues to grow, these ethical considerations will need to be thoroughly discussed and addressed. Establishing ethical guidelines now can ensure the industry develops sustainably and humanely, positioning insects as a truly viable addition to our global food system.

Regulations for Farming and Consumption of Insects

As the edible insect industry continues to grow, it becomes increasingly important to have robust regulations in place to ensure both the safety of consumers and the sustainability of farming practices.

Food Safety Regulations

In many countries, insects are officially recognized as food. As such, they are subject to the same safety and hygiene standards as any other type of food product. Here’s a look at the key components of these regulations:

  1. Hygiene Standards: Insect farming operations are expected to maintain high hygiene standards to prevent contamination. This includes proper waste disposal, pest control, and regular cleaning of farming equipment and facilities.
  2. Processing and Packaging: Any processing of insects for consumption – such as drying, grinding into powder, or cooking – should adhere to food safety guidelines. The same applies to the packaging, which should prevent contamination and clearly state the contents and any potential allergens.
  3. Monitoring and Inspection: Regulatory bodies should carry out regular inspections of insect farming operations to ensure they are adhering to all safety and hygiene standards.

Sustainability Regulations

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is actively working on guidelines for insect farming to promote sustainable insect farmer practices. These guidelines are expected to cover several key areas:

  1. Resource Usage: Regulations should encourage efficient use of resources in insect farming, such as water and feed, and promote the use of renewable energy sources where possible.
  2. Biodiversity Preservation: Regulations should aim to prevent potential negative impacts on biodiversity from large-scale insect farming, such as the spread of diseases or genetic homogenization.
  3. Waste Management: Sustainable insect farming also involves responsible waste management. The FAO guidelines are likely to include recommendations for recycling waste from insect farming, potentially even as a source of feed for the insects.

Global Regulatory Differences

The regulations around insect farming and consumption can vary greatly from one country to another. For example, in the European Union, insects as food are regulated under the Novel Food Regulation. In the United States, the FDA oversees the safety of food products, including those made from insects.

Cultural Perspectives on Eating Insects

It’s worth noting that the ‘ick’ factor surrounding insects is primarily a Western perspective. In many countries and cultures around the world, insects are viewed as a valuable and desirable food source. Not only that, but some cultures view certain insects as delicacies, much like caviar or truffles in the West.

Incorporating Insects into Everyday Diets

If you’re still with me and haven’t run for the hills (or your nearest fast food joint), let’s talk about how you can incorporate insects into your everyday diet.

There are countless ways to get creative with insects in your meals. Think chocolate-covered ants for a sweet treat, cricket-topped pizzas for a crunchy twist, or mealworm tacos for an unforgettable Taco Tuesday. Or keep it simple with a sprinkle of ground insect powder in your morning smoothie for an extra protein kick.


In the end, eating insects may not be for everyone. But as survivalists, we know the importance of adaptability. Whether it’s sourcing food in the wild or considering sustainable alternatives to traditional livestock, insects provide a viable solution.

And remember, fellow adventurers, when it comes to survival, the ability to stomach a few bugs might just make all the difference between thriving and merely surviving. So, before you say “No way!” to that platter of roasted mealworms, remember this old survivalist saying: “If it’s got legs and isn’t chasing you, it’s probably dinner.”

To sum up, eating insects has some compelling pros, but there are also legitimate cons to consider. If you’re able to navigate through the potential risks and the ick-factor, you might just find that this age-old practice can open up a whole new world of culinary experiences. Bon Appétit!


What are disadvantages to eating insects?

Disadvantages to eating insects can include potential food safety concerns, such as the presence of parasites, bacteria, or pesticide exposure in wild-caught insects. Additionally, edible insects may trigger allergic reactions, especially in people with shellfish allergies due to the similarity in protein structures.

Are there any benefits to eating insects?

Yes, there are numerous benefits to eating insects. They are rich in protein, vitamins, and essential nutrients, making them a nutritional powerhouse. Insect farming also offers significant environmental benefits, as it requires less land, water, animal feed, and produces fewer greenhouse gases compared to traditional livestock farming.

Are bugs unhealthy to eat?

Bugs are not inherently unhealthy to eat. When sourced from safe environments and properly prepared, they can offer a nutritious addition to the diet. However, it’s essential to note that wild-caught bugs can carry potential health risks such as parasites or harmful bacteria.

Are insects healthier than meat?

In terms of nutritional composition, insects can rival traditional meats. They can contain as much protein as beef, chicken, or fish and are also rich in healthy fats, fiber, and essential minerals. However, whether various insect species are “healthier” than meat can depend on individual dietary needs, preparation methods, and overall diet composition.


1. Baker, Aryn. “They’re Healthy. They’re Sustainable. So Why Don’t Humans Eat More Bugs?” Time, 26 Feb. 2021,

2. Kim, Tae-Kyung, et al. “Edible Insects as a Protein Source: A Review of Public Perception, Processing Technology, and Research Trends.” Food Science of Animal Resources, vol. 39, no. 4, Aug. 2019, pp. 521–540,

3. Gahukar, R.T. “Insect Farming – an Overview | ScienceDirect Topics.”, 2016,

4. Van Huis, Arnold, et al. Edible Insects Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security Edible Insects Future Prospects for Food and Feed Security. 2013.