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In the Ring with Insect Protein vs Meat Protein

The Sustainability Facts of Insect Protein vs Meat Protein

You may have heard that insect protein is paving the way in terms of sustainability but you may also be wondering how? Here at Grub Club, we are making it our mission to spread the word about the benefits of moving away from meat and embracing the wonders of insects. It may all sound a little strange to you right now, but by the end of this article, you will be buzzing with so many facts about insect protein vs meat protein that you’ll most certainly want to tell everyone else about them!

Insect Protein vs Meat Protein: Nutritional Values

We have been told for years and years that the best way to get the protein we need is to eat meat but this myth needs busting, firstly because there are plenty of vegetarians and vegans out there who are proof that we can live a healthy life without consuming meat and secondly because we now know that there are actually more nutritional alternatives – cheese, lentils, black beans, lima beans, eggs, pasta, peanut butter, yoghurt and many more… Including insects.

So, what do we know?

There are more than 2000 edible insect species that are consumed around the world with the most commonly consumed groups being beetles, caterpillars, bees, wasps, ants, grasshoppers, locusts, crickets, termites, flies and spiders. You see, in some cultures, this is already their norm. They understand that they are not only easy to source but that they also provide your body with essential nutrients. Did you know that insects actually contain almost all the nutritional benefits that you get from eating meat, fish and rye bread all at once?!

Here at Grub Club, we use insect protein from Black Soldier Fly Larvae in our dog food and treats as it is proven to be rich in omegas and amino acids and it is hypoallergenic. On top of this it is also:

  • Low in fat
  • Rich in iron and protein
  • Rich in fibre
  • Rich in detoxifying vitamins
  • No risk of food-borne pathogens
  • Easily digestible

Compare this to meat and it is a stark contrast. Even though meat is a source of complete protein, iron, B vitamins, and fat, due to its high content of saturated fatty acids and heme, ruminant meat is considered less healthy than other species. Consumption of red meat (meat from mammals such as cows, calves, pigs and sheep) is associated with a higher risk of stroke, diabetes, heart disease and cancer.

There are still many studies going on to compare these two’s nutritional values and how that will affect people and animals long-term but what has already been found is extremely positive. One study that has been published in the European Journal of Clinical Nutrition shows that “insects contain values of between 9.96 and 35.2 grams of protein per 100 grams, compared with 16.8-20.6 grams for meat” so if you are choosing the right insect protein to consume you will most certainly be able to argue that your protein intake is higher than if you were to eat a steak.

Looks as though insect protein wins the nutritional value round.

Insect Protein vs Meat Protein: Environmental Impact

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you will know that climate change is real, it is here and it is being driven by certain factors in human lives. Our reliance on fossil fuels, unsustainable travel, fast fashion, consumerism and the love of meat. The last may surprise you but the facts speak for themselves:

CO2 – Producing 1 kg of protein from beef emits approximately 2.850 g of CO2

Water Around 15.500 litres of water is needed to produce 1 kg of protein from beef

Feed Cattle need on average 20 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of protein

Land 250 m2 of land is used per kg of beef protein and on top of this, it is estimated that around seven football fields of land are bulldozed worldwide every single minute to create more room because there are now more farmed animals on the planet than there are humans. Oh, and let’s not overlook the fact that we also need land on which to grow the sheer amount of food they require

Now, if we do a little comparison to insects we get:

CO2 Producing 1 kg of protein from insects causes emissions of as little as 1 g of CO2

Water To produce 1 kg of protein from insects requires approximately 5 litres of water, however, many insects themselves do not require any water or even any light whilst they are farmed (hence why the black soldier fly larvae is a perfect choice)

Feed Insects require around 1.7 kg of feed to produce 1 kg of protein and this will be organic matter

Land Producing insects requires approximately 3.5 m2 per kg of insect protein

Insect based protein will therefore create around 96% less CO2 than livestock making it the winner in the environmental impact round too!

Insect Protein vs Meat Protein: Dog Food

The dog food world is dominated by meat based dishes but insect protein is here to revolutionise this. We may have been told over the years that our dogs NEED meat in their diets but this isn’t factually correct. Dogs do require a nutritionally balanced diet and yes this does include protein but it most certainly does not mean that they need to gain that from meat sources. The PDSA themselves say:

“Dogs are omnivores, which means they can eat both meat and plant-based foods. As long as you buy a complete commercial food appropriate for your dog’s age and lifestyle, your dog will be getting all the nutrients they need whether you’re feeding meat or not”

In actual fact, we are seeing more and more dogs displaying food intolerances to both particular types of meat and also grains so an alternative option is now required for this reason too.

Our new insect protein based dog food is proof that a complete dog food can be available, good for your pet and for the planet all at the same time. We say:

“As a novel source of protein, insect meal is hypoallergenic for our pets, which is great news for sensitive tummies and itchy skin. It’s a great alternative for dogs that suffer from meat-related allergies. It’s also rich in omegas and healthy fats, which support soft skin and shiny coats”

In terms of sustainability facts we can tell you that:

  • 20% of all of the world’s fish and meat is consumed by our pets
  • 106 million tonnes of CO2 is generated every year by the pet food industry
  • In 2020, researchers found that it takes an area twice the size of the UK to satisfy the world’s demand for pet food
  • dog living an unsustainable lifestyle could well produce more than twice the amount of CO2 than that of a 4×4 car

But if you swapped over to insect protein based meals looking at all of the above information we have provided, you would be helping to use 47x less land, 25x less CO2 and 25x less water compared to meat.

So, that’s a hat trick for insect-based protein!

In conclusion…

Insect protein by far outweighs any argument for meat protein in terms of nutrition, environmental impact, feeding your dog and sustainability. Utilising our little insect protein powerhouses can help us make a lasting positive impact on our planet.