/ Food & Drink

For and against eating insects – would you dine on bugs?

Do you want to see the Which? crew eating worms, crickets, ants and scorpions? Well, you can. Would you eat bugs yourself? Well, that’s the debate we’re starting today. In the future, you might not have a choice.

We’ve previously talked about scientists warning of an impending food crisis. As our population rises, we may not be able to keep up with our appetite for meat and we’ll need to look at alternative sources of protein.

We could eat lab-grown meat, or turn vegetarian, but is there another way? Yes. Bugs.

Patrick Steen’s in favour of eating insects

I’m all aboard this insect eating train. If 80% of the world’s nations are happy to munch on bugs, and even consider them a delicacy, why can’t we?

Yes, there are some British delicacies I wouldn’t even eat – tripe being one of them. But, in my mind, it’s purely psychological. You might find the idea ‘yukky’, ‘icky’ or ‘gross’– but what if you had to eat insects to survive?

Creepy crawlies are high in protein, vitamins, minerals and fats. Edible insects are easy to sustainably farm and produce considerably more ‘meat’ for the amount of food we put in compared to traditional meat farming.

We eat similar creatures already – prawns, lobsters and crabs are basically insects of the sea – with exoskeletons that we remove before eating them. In fact, I crunch on the tails of deep-fried prawns, so why should I fear eating a cricket with its ‘shell’ on?

As you can see in the video above, I wanted to test my convictions on film. So, I went out and bought some insects – dried meal worms, mopani worms (emperor moth caterpillars), crickets, and chocolate-covered giant ants and a scorpion.

I’m happy to say that I ate them all, and my reluctant fellow diners did a good job too, but we didn’t particularly enjoy them. They just didn’t taste that nice, nor did they feel very substantial.

I’m going to put that down to the way they were delivered – dried and shrivelled – but I’m confident they could taste good if cooked fresh. Or why not grind them up and hide them in other foods? Most red food colouring is made up from ground up insects (the cochineal), so why not a burger with its main protein coming from worms? Come on, be brave – it’s the future.

Nikki Whiteman’s against dining on bugs

Well, you can count me out of eating insects. Future society might also expect us to have a robot butler or ride hoverboards to work, but there are some things I’m not sure I can bring myself to do – eating insects is one of them.

Watching Patrick and my other colleagues munching their way through a plateful of worms, ants and other crawlies was enough to put me off my dull yet delicious sandwich.

I understand that we’re not talking about the apocalypse – we won’t be digging live worms out of the ground to munch on. The proposed alternative to traditional ‘meats’ is something like a reformed protein – made up of the (admittedly quite nutritious) pulp of insects and formed into something with fewer visible legs. But I’m still not sure that, knowing it was an insect, I could actually put it in my mouth.

I appreciate that we need to preserve the world’s resources, but as an arachnophobe and the sort of person who runs screaming down the street at the sight of a cockroach, I think that I’d be happier taking a different route. If ‘real’ meat runs out I’d happily eat a lab-grown burger or just cut meat out of my diet altogether. But worms and crickets? Think I’ll pass, thanks.

If push came to shove, would you eat insects?

Yes – we need to find new sources of food (38%, 105 Votes)

No – are you out of your mind? (37%, 103 Votes)

Not sure – only if I can’t see it’s an insect (25%, 69 Votes)

Total Voters: 277

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Grub’s up.

Angela C says:
9 March 2012

If American can stop doing shows like Man vs Food, or all thos mad huge platter challenges, I’m sure we can survive for much longer.

Oh and people need to start learning how to eat chicken parts instead of just the breasts, they are edible and more succulent too…

I wonder how many bugs a man need to eat to fill them up 🙂


Yup… high in protein no doubt, in Mexico
and Thailand, they’re spiced up and deep-fried
and sold as street food. Called ‘jungle food’
in Thailand.

Not for me thanks… wd rather have veg protein if can’t
afford fish and usual animal proteins.

HFW did a programme on TV on that, no takers,
one described it as absolutely disgusting
having tasted it.

M. says:
9 March 2012

I have eaten greenfly since I was a child, they are sweet & tasty.
I got the idea after learning that ants farm them for the honey like substance they excrete, licked some off a plant and never looked back.

As a result I have tried most insects, uncooked a lot of them are bitter tasting [to deter predators I think]. Preying mantises make me violently ill and there are some poisonous bugs out there.
Cockroaches, after seeing them in so many cesspit’s I have a real problem with eating them.
Best way to start on bugs is to get drunk and start munching.


I’m impressed M. When you say you’ve tried most bugs? Are you just picking them out of your garden? Where did you get a preying mantis? (Don’t try this at home kids!)

M. says:
9 March 2012

My Garden, i’ve grown up and have my own now; friends gardens / smallholdings; when out in the sticks [away from farms & cultivations as the danger of herbicides / pesticides is ever present].
My praying mantis actually fell into my lap….
Visiting Jamaica I was up in the mountains sitting on a veranda outside of a shack, the one light bulb was above my head attracting loads of insects, besides the bulb lurked a mantis, this must have been his version of an all you can eat buffet. Anyway somehow he lost his grip and fell into my lap…..I must admit I was sampling the delights of Wray & Nephews overproof white rum, and this provided the courage I needed to pick it up and start munching. Never again not unless it’s fired crispy Chinese style.


I’m speechless.


The smell of stuff oozing from dung beetles
is disgusting enough let alone eat it with or w/out salt
and pepper whether cooked or uncooked.

khya says:
24 April 2015

i agree

Sophie Gilbert says:
9 March 2012

I don’t think there is any question that if you had to survive you would eat insects. However, from a position of comfort, no thanks. Unless perhaps cooked by Ray Mears? He’d know which ones are good for you and taste good and how to prepared them nicely, and which ones to steer clear away from. Survival of the fittest and all that.


Jungle survival skills taught include surviving
on all manner of insects to be eaten live preferably
and none are poisonous or do you arm. And we are
talking abt a life and death situation so can’t be choosy.
But as to scorpions and suchlike creatures, remove
the sting first before devouring


I would rather become a vegetarian than eat creepy crawlies. Thank goodness none of the examples in the video was still wriggling. 🙂


I have to throw my hat in the ring and say I’m on Patrick’s side. I nibbled on the meal worms (keyboard food I called it – it tastes like stuff that falls out of it if you give it a shake), and it was fine. The caterpillar was less palatable, with a fishy aftertaste that took a packet of fruit pastilles to get rid of. But I’d happily convert – as long there were some chocolate covered ants left over for dessert!


Patrick said that the chocolate-covered ants contain ‘energy giving enzymes’. The Advertising Standards Authority might be interested in that claim.

While looking up this product I found an ideal product for the Which? team – Which Witchetty Grub http://www.lazyboneuk.com/products/Which-Witchetty-Grub.html