Entoveganism: Veganism with a Six-Legged Twist

Entovegan article Featured Image

In May 2017, health-conscious John Galt decided to try the one diet he had never tried before. Curious about the vegan hype, he wanted to try it out himself, but with a controversial six-legged twist.

“When I noticed really positive changes in my body after about 6 weeks of mostly just eating a plant-based diet, I decided to do it for the rest of the year, but incorporate insects into my diet as a larger percentage of what I was eating,” explains Josh.

There are three main reasons that people try a vegan diet, because they love animals, for environmental reasons and for health reasons. While Josh doesn’t have a problem with people who eat meat or animal by-products, he believes that a vegan is both healthier and more ethical, however his main drive to entoveganism is his own personal health.

“Insects are the most sustainable form of animal protein,” Josh explains. “The comparison between 1kg of cricket protein (which can be grown literally in a concrete box) vs 1kg of beef product is incredible. The contrast between the amount of feed, water and land needed to produce it, plus the difference in the greenhouse gasses – insects win hands down.”

His original 6-month entovegan trial lead to him adopting this diet and lifestyle full time. He has also been promoting entoveganism on his website as well as social media, however he finds it difficult to imagine a world where everyone was entovegan.

“There would be a drastic improvement in overall environmental health,” says Josh. “Ultimately, there are still many unknowns in the whole Entomophagy industry, but from what we do know, it’s extremely promising as a food source. If toasted cricket chips start to replace MSG-covered GMO corn chips, for example, that’s going to a good thing for people’s diet in general.”

A diet is something extremely personal and can define who the person is. It seems that recently people have become really disconnected from their food – not thinking about where it came from or what it is doing to their wellbeing. Food is one of the greatest variables in our health and it is important for people to reconnect with their food, to have the right to know where it comes from and to be able to choose what they put in their bodies.

When it comes to the ethics of eating insects, Josh strongly believes that there are correct ways to do it. After pointing out that since insects don’t have a central nervous system, it is hard to prove that they are able to feel pain. In addition to this, farmed insects are ethically “put to sleep” usually by placing them on ice or in large freezers where they simply go to sleep and freeze, supposedly painlessly.

“There is less argument about the moral virtue of eating insects than there actually can be about eating commercially grown vegetables plants are also shown to respond with “feelings” to music or anger, but the biggest issue is that harvesting vegetables and grains actually kills innumerable small animals like field mice, bunnies, birds and reptiles.”

There is still so much that we don’t know about insects and are just now beginning to explore. Are there cures for diseases in entomophagy? Are there bugs that are high in antioxidants? Are there superfood insects? Is there an insect with a fast life-cycle that is the perfect nutritional profile for humans?

“Entomophagy just about acceptance,” Josh concludes. “100 years ago, lobster was the food of poor people and prisoners. Now it’s eaten by Jay-Z and Beyoncé paired with $1,000 bottles of bubbly. Insects are far more sustainable than lobster, and arguably even more nutritious.”

For more information on Josh and Entoveganism, click on the banner below:

Core tenets of the Entovegan philosophy

Top 50 Edible Insects List

Top 50 Edible Insects List

What’s the best thing about edible insects? There are just so many different varieties. Obviously, not everyone is going to agree on them all, but once your door to entomophagy (eating insects) finally opens, the choice is just mind-blowing — it would be near impossible to sample the full variety of flavours on offer in a single lifetime: there are ants that taste of citrus, nutty crickets, arachnids like soft-shell crab, and even grubs that resemble bacon!

Chefs like David George Gordon, Daniel Creedon and Peter Gorton have been exploring these flavours for years, but are still really just scratching the surface.The map below shows the countries where the most insects are eaten — you’ll notice Europe and North America are pretty weak by comparison.

Global distribution of edible insects
Global distribution of recorded edible insect species (Jongema, 2012)

Yde Jongema from the Department of Entomology at Wageningen University compiled an exhaustive edible insects list of 2,040 species from across the world, a small selection of which are shown in the list below. The largest group of insects eaten worldwide is the Order Coleoptera, or the beetles and weevils, at around 31% of the total number of recorded edible species. Caterpillars are of the Order Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies), and true bugs here, refers to the Order Hemiptera, including things like cicadas, stink bugs and giant water bugs.

Recorded edible insect species
Recorded species abundance in edible insect groups - Total species: 2,040 (Adapted from: Jongema, 2012)

Edible Insects List

So here’s our list of 50 of the best / most interesting edible bugs out there. This is by no means as thorough a collection as Jongema’s research, and several groups like ants or grasshoppers are lumped together due to the sheer number in each, but hopefully you get an idea of the huge variety on offer. Caveat: I use the terms insects to refer to arthropods and annelids, so forgive the generalisation. Image credits and references are at the end. But first, I couldn’t resist putting this video in. Enjoy!

Agave Weevils
Agave Weevils

Also known as an Agave Worm, the Agave Snout Weevil (Scyphophorus acupunctatus) is a type of beetle, but is often confused with caterpillars of a butterfly (Aegiale hesperiaris) and a moth (Hypopta agavis). All three species feed on agave plants and can be found as proof of quality in tequila and mezcal bottles. They are eaten fried and are even sold canned in Mexico.


There are a whole range of ants eaten across the world, from honeypot ants (Camponotus inflatus) in Australia to green tree ants (Oecophylla smaragdina) in China, India and Thailand, carpenter ants (Camponotus spp.) in Indonesia and the Philippines, and weaver ants (Oecophylla longinoda) in the Congo. Leafcutter ants (Atta spp.) in Colombia and Brazil taste like a bacon-pistachio fusion and the lemon ants (Myrmelachista schumanni) of the Amazon are named after their citrus taste.

Honeypot ants

Aphids (Aphididae gen.) are more of a source of liquid than food since all they really eat is plant sap, sucked up directly from the plant’s phloem with their syphons. They leave behind a sugary honeydew which is exploited by people in Mexico and the Middle East, clearly taking after ants, some of which are famous for herding and protecting their collections of aphids. Aphid honeydew can taste either bitter or sweet depending on the plants on which they feed.


Bagworms are pretty strange creatures. They are actually caterpillars of the bagworm moth (Psychidae gen.) and they build protective casings around themselves from twigs and leaves. Their larvae are eaten in Mexico and Equatorial Africa, and their pupae, called fangalabola in Madagascar, are harvested en masse as a delicacy.

Bamboo Worms
Bamboo Worms

Bamboo worms, or bamboo borers, are grass moth larvae (Omphisa fuscidentalis) that feed on bamboo pulp in Thailand, Myanmar, Laos and parts of China. It’s called rot duan, or express train, in Thai due to its shape and can be found at almost every street food vendor in the country. It’s sometimes confused with larvae of the wood-boring beetle (Dinoderus minutus), another bamboo pest, but these are not as popular as food.


Honey bee drones (Apis spp.) are eaten in China and are also used as traditional medicine, but by far the most popular way to eat them throughout the world is in their larval form. Bee larvae, either from honey bees, bumblebees (Bombus spp.), carpenter bees (Xylocopa spp.) or stingless bees (Trigona spp.), are eaten in many countries throughout Asia, central and southern Africa, South America, and the West Indies. It’s hardly surprising that they are said to taste like creamy royal jelly, considering that’s all they are fed!

Cactus Weevils
Cactus Weevils

Eaten as both larvae and adults in Ecuador, Mexico and Venezuela, cactus weevils (Metamasius spp.) are from the same family as agave weevils and feed on cacti throughout their life cycle. The are seen as pests because the larvae bore through the cactus and the adults eat the plant itself, often killing it.


Centipedes are one of many edible insects you can find as you explore Beijing’s night markets. They are more of a box to tick for the adventurous eater than anything else, thanks to their scary appearance. Unfortunately, those street food stalls tend to fry them to a crisp so you don’t end up tasting much more that what can only be described as dried spaghetti sticks.

Christmas Beetles
Christmas Beetles

Commonly eaten by the Aboriginal people of Australia, Christmas beetle (Anoplognathus viridiaeneus) larvae had the attention of the Western world since 1842, when Frederick Hope wrote on their consumption, “Should this opinion be further substantiated, and the food prove palatable and wholesome, the settler, from policy, should patronize as food these dainties which are so highly prized by the wild Australian, and thereby secure the crops of future years by feeding on the insects capable of destroying them…”.


One of the few insects eaten in the US, cicadas (Magicicada spp.) are said to be most tender and tasty just after they molt. They are pretty nutty so folks from Nashville have them as sweet treats cooked with buttermilk. You’ll also find them eaten in China, Japan, Thailand, Malaysia, Mexico and India.

Cochineal Bugs

Cochineals are scale bugs from the Superfamily Coccoidea that suck the sap from prickly pear cacti. Although variants are eaten in China and the Canary Islands, Cochineals are more famous for being the source of red carmine dye. This dye has supposedly been used in the Americas since the 10th century and until recently, was used by Starbucks to colour their Frappuccinos. It is still found in a whole load of foods, from jams and cakes to sausages and marinades.


These may be the epitome of filth as far as the Western mind is concerned, but when they are fed only on salad and fruit, they can actually taste pretty good and are quite healthy. Just ask a few Australian, Chinese, Indian, Thai, Malay, Mexican or Brazilian entomophagists!


Eaten throughout the world in far too many countries to list here, crickets and their various varieties are probably the most commonly used edible insect. They can be fried, boiled, sautéed, and when roasted, taste like roast nuts. They are also said to take on the flavour of their food, a characteristic being exploited by Entomo Farms in Canada to make their crickets taste of apple and cinnamon. The cricket industry is taking off in North America, but is still nowhere near the 20,000 or so registered cricket farms in Thailand.

Diving Beetles

Diving beetles (Dytiscidae gen.) are eaten throughout East and Southeast Asia. In China, they are thought to have an anti-diuretic effect and are eaten not out of nutritional necessity (although they are healthy, as most insects are), but out of cultural tradition, mostly in more affluent areas. In fact, it’s a common misconception that insects are only eaten by the poor since many species cost much more than traditional meat.

Diving Beetles
Dragonflies & Damselflies

Dragonflies and their close relatives, damselflies, make up the Order Odonata and are eaten throughout the world, from Central Africa and South America to Asia and Papua New Guinea. They are eaten either in adult or laval form (pictured). Indonesians collect the adults in flight by waving a sticky reed around in the air.


“Slimy, yet satisfying!” Pumbaa was right on the money because earthworms are full of nutrients. The downside is that they are also full of dirt so need to be purged before they can be eaten. They are often pre-dried to get rid of the sliminess, and then used as an ingredient in a stirfry, for example.

Emperor Moth
Emperor Moths

Emperor moth caterpillars (from the Saturniidae family) are actually quite a common edible insect in food throughout the African continent. They have a number of genera and can be found in most African markets. Unsurprisingly (and a growing trend in the article), they are also eaten in Mexico.


Rich in fatty acids to the same extent as in some fish oils, pupae of the common house fly (Musca spp.) are said to taste “sort of like black pudding”. That’s according to David Gracer, a US entomophagy advocate and TEDx speaker on the subject. Another fly of interest is the black soldier fly (Hermetia illucens). Jason Drew, founder of AgriProtein in South Africa and another TED speaker, uses these and a range of other fly larvae to process organic food waste into livestock feed, insect oils and fertilisers.

Black Soldier Fly
Giant Water Bugs
Giant Water Bugs

Although also eaten in Mexico, Venezuela, China, Japan and the Congo, these toe-biters as they are referred to in Thailand, are probably most famous with tourists there as they are among the most fearsome looking of street food options. Some say they are like clam-flavoured potatoes and others like a salty, fruity taste. Thai locals like them best pregnant and full of creamy eggs!

Golden Orb-Weavers

Also known as banana spiders in the US, golden orb-weavers (Nephilidae gen.) have around 75 discovered species and are spread throughout the tropics and southern hemisphere. These are the spiders you can imagine walking face-first into on a jungle trek and they are large enough to catch and eat bats. That said, they’re supposed to be delicious — a bit like peanut butter when fried.

Golden Orb Weaver

Like crickets, and also from the Order Orthoptera, grasshoppers are eaten almost everywhere in orange on that map I showed you above. Not all grasshoppers are edible since there are thousands of species, but perhaps the most thoroughly exploited are Sphenarium spp., called Chapulines in Mexico. They are most often toasted on a clay stove with lime, garlic, salt and agave worm extract to add in more complex flavours.


Essentially wasps on steroids, hornets are from the same family (Vespidae) as their smaller counterparts. They are eaten in either larval or pupal form in China, Japan, and across Southeast Asia.


Hornworms are the larvae of hummingbird moths and are a prominent pest species for the commercial plants they eat. The tobacco hornworm (Manduca sexta) is found throughout North America, and requires a starvation period before you eat it due to its ability to bioaccumulate and secrete nicotine. The closely related tomato hornworm (Manduca quinquemaculata) is said to be like a green tomato / shrimp / crab combo in taste.

Huntsman Spiders

Another spider for good measure. Huntsman spiders (Sparassidae gen.) are composed of over a thousand species and are found everywhere there’s a temperate of tropical climate. These spiders can reach up to 12 inches in leg span and don’t build webs, but instead chase down their prey at speed, hence the name. Indonesians and Venezuelans call them food (amongst other names, I’m sure).

Huntsman Spider
Jewel Beetles
Jewel Beetles

The Buprestidae family, or the jewel beetles, are a massive group of around 15,000 species. Their larvae bore through wood, and some even through living trees, making them a serious pest problem. They are eaten throughout Africa, Southeast Asia and China, either as larvae or as adult beetles.

June Beetles

June beetles (Phyllophaga spp.) were traditionally roasted over coals by Native Americans, either as adults or larvae, and are said to taste like buttery walnuts. They are thought to be relatively safe to harvest from the wild as there are no inedible species that look like them in the regions they are found. As always though, harvest with care in areas free of pesticides.

June Beetle

Katydids are better known as bush crickets (Tettigoniidae gen.), but are actually closer relatives of grasshoppers than crickets. Much like these other hopping relatives of theirs, they are eaten pretty much everywhere they’re found: throughout Africa, South America, East and Southeast Asia, India and Papua New Guinea. David Gracer, bug sampler extraordinaire, says that they taste somewhere between chicken, shrimp and croutons.


Yet another insect eaten almost everywhere on our map, locusts, along with grasshoppers, crickets and katydids, are officially acknowledged as fit for human consumption in the Bible (Leviticus 11:22) — probably at least partly responsible for their popularity. They are said to taste somewhere between shrimp and sunflower seeds, and are especially delicious when fed on sesame leaves.

Longhorn Beetle
Longhorn Beetles

A rather large family of beetles with over 20,000 species, longhorn beetles (Cerambycidae gen.) are named after their antennae, which are sometimes longer than their bodies. One of the most popular edible insect families, longhorns are eaten in almost as many of the same countries that katydids are, but unlike the latter, longhorns are also munched on throughout Oceania.


Much like dragonflies and damselflies, adult mayflies have short lifespans, even shorter in fact than the former two groups; the Order Ephemeroptera to which they belong is from the Greek for short-lived. Collected during their day-long swarms as mating adults, they are eaten in Kenya, Malawi, China and Japan.


Affectionately known to many in the entomophagy community as the gateway bug, mealworms are probably one of the first edible insects people ever try, mainly because they are super easy to raise, they have a great nutrition profile, and they taste really good (if you’re a fan of roasted nuts). They’re not actually worms at all, but are larvae of the darkling beetle (Tenebrio spp.), a small, black, non-biting, flightless beetle about a centimeter long that doesn’t mind crowded spaces and loves the dark —  perfect for farming!

Midges & Mosquitos

Both from the fly Order Diptera, midges (Chaoboridae gen. in particular) and mosquitos (Culicidae gen.) are the insects most people would probably describe as the biggest nuisance. That said, East Africans harvest midges by the net-full as they swarm over their many lakes, and Mexicans serve up mosquito eggs in tortillas with lime.

Mopane Worms
Mopane Worms

Again, not a worm, but a caterpillar of a particular species of emperor moth (Gonimbrasia belina). I realise emperor moths have already been covered, but their larvae get their own category due to their huge popularity throughout Southern Africa; that and they were my very first introduction to edible insects as a kid growing up there. I don’t quite remember the taste, but people say they’re a bit like biltong (South African jerky) which is amazing!

Palm Weevils

Packed with nutrition and essential fats, it’s not surprising that palm weevil larvae (Rhynchophorus spp.) are a staple insect throughout the world. They are eaten in China, Central and Western Africa, Southeast Asia, South America and Papua New Guinea. Many folks say they taste of bacon when cooked and the Malaysian dish, Sago Delight, has variations throughout Asia.

Palm Weevils
Rhinoceros Beetle
Rhinoceros Beetles

Most people are familiar with what adult rhinoceros beetles look like, but here’s one of their larvae. Unsurprisingly, the larvae are more palatable than the hard exoskeletons of the adults so this is what’s most commonly eaten. Widespread throughout the world and extremely nutritious, they are being touted as a significant protein source for impoverished regions in the future. Fun fact: rhino beetles are the strongest known animals (relatively), capable of lifting up to 850 times their own weight!


One of the more intimidating entries in this edible insects list, scorpions taste a little like shrimp with a nutty edge. Anyone who has been around Beijing’s night markets will be familiar with a variety of scorpions on sticks – the large black ones costing a tidy sum for the unsuspecting tourist.


Silkworms come from a range of families, but are all from the butterfly and moth Order Lepidoptera. Most commonly eaten in pupal form, they are a by-product of the silk industry and can be found in street markets in any silk-producing country. In South Korea, China and Japan, the Bombyx mori species is eaten and tastes a bit bland, much like tofu, but many people love them marinated in chili and garlic sauce.

Stag Beetles

Stag beetles (Lucanidae gen.) get their name from mandibles that the males use for fighting other males around mating time. They are the largest terrestrial insect in Europe, but are not generally on the European menu. They are, however, in Mexico, Ecuador, India, Malaysia, Japan, Papua New Guinea and Madagascar.

Stag Beetle
Stick Insect
Stick Insects

Also known as walking sticks, the members of the Phasmatodea family are another group of our true bugs. They’re not a hugely popular edible insect as they are only really eaten to a significant extent in Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, probably because they are said to taste a bit like tree. Hardly surprising, given their diet.

Stink Bugs

Yet another true bug, stink bugs make up quite a large group of insects that are eaten throughout Southeast Asia, India, South America and Southern Africa. Their flavour varies from bitter to slightly sweet and tangy, and they are often eaten raw because they are known to sometimes survive being cooked!

Stink Bugs - "Thongolifha"

As is the case with mealworms, superworms (Zophobas spp.) are not worms. They’re actually very closely related to mealworms, also belonging to the Tenebrionidae family. Their taste is quite similar, but I tend to find them quite a bit blander. They are eaten all over, but particularly in Mexico and Venezuela.


A delicacy in Southeast Asia and especially important in the poorer regions of Cambodia, tarantulas are hunted and dug up from their holes to provide a much needed protein source for people that would usually live off not much more that rice. More on the spider hunters of Cambodia can be seen in Stefan Gates’ BBC documentary, Can Eating Insects Save the World? Tarantuals are eaten whole and are said to taste like soft-shell crab.


Termites are loaded with protein and they actually have a full essential amino acid profile. It’s no wonder then that they are eaten throughout the African continent and Southeast Asia. They are harvested straight from the ground or collected when they get their wings and swarm to find mates. Their taste depends on the species – some are nutty and others taste of mint.

Tiger Beetles

If you’re an insect geek, these guys are pretty cool. Tiger beetles (Cicindelinae gen.) are named after the way they hunt as the adults are extremely fast, both on the ground and in the air. Even the larvae are predatory, instead ambushing prey from their burrows, although not stealthy enough to evade Mexicans that collect them for the plate.

tiger beetle

Wasps are most commonly eaten in China, Thailand, Myanmar, Indonesia, Australia and the Congo, more often than not in their larval form. They are said to taste earthy and buttery, and according to Emperor Hirohito of early 20th century Japan, they go very well cooked with sugar and soy sauce, served with boiled rice!

Water Boatmen

Although these look like beetles, we’re dealing with another true bug here, again, eaten mostly in Mexico. Water boatmen (Corixidae gen.), as their name suggests, are aquatic insects that live in ponds and slow streams. Most are vegetarian, which is quite unusual for aquatic bugs. I’ve no idea what they taste like, but my garden pond may answer that question one day.

Water Boatman
Water Scorpion
Water Scorpions

Not related to true scorpions in any way more than appearance, water scorpions (Nepidae gen.) are actually the last of our true bugs on this list. They are, however, also ferocious ambush predators that will eat anything from insect larvae to tadpoles. You can find them on the menu in Laos, Thailand, Indonesia, Japan, Madagascar and the Congo.


Waxworms (Pyralidae gen.) are caterpillars of the wax moth, sometimes called bee moths because they live in beehives and eat pretty much everything in there, other than the adult bees. They’re on the menu in China, Japan, Mexico and Brazil. Raised on bran and honey when farmed, Daniella Martin of Girl Meets Bug reckons they taste of a cross between pine nuts and enoki mushrooms. Watch her cook some up here!

witchetty grub
Witchetty Grubs

Another Australian Aboriginal favourite. Peter Menzel describes Witchetty grubs (Endoxyla leucomochla) in his book, Man Eating Bugs, as “like nut-flavored scrambled eggs and mild mozzarella, wrapped in a phyllo dough pastry”. They are a great find for those foraging for bugs, thanks to their very high protein and fat content.


Woodlice are not insects at all; they are crustaceans, so the term, land shrimp, used by Florence Dunkel in her 2012 TED talk really does apply here. Like lobsters, they turn red when cooked and according to Raymond Day, Edible Bug Farm’s avid survivalist, they do in fact taste of shrimp.


All images used were originally released under a Creative Commons Licence. I would like to thank all of the following photographers for their willingness to share their great work!

Agave Worms: Andy Sadler Ants: D Coetzee Aphids: Gustavo Mazzarollo Bagworm: Niko Malessa Bamboo Worms: Jeremiah Roth Bees: Max Westby Cactus Weevils: Pavel Kirillov Centipedes: Jun-Dai Bates-Kobashigawa Christmas Beetles: John Slaney Cicadas: Xiangrui Huang Cochineals: Frank Vincentz Cockroach: Squiddles Crickets: Sean Wallace Diving Beetles: Mark Robinson Dragonflies: The Tattooed Tentacle Earthworms: CAFNR Emperor Moth: Benard Dupont

Fly: Anita Gould Giant Water Bugs: Alpha Golden Orb-Weaver: Dick Culbert Grasshoppers: William Neuheisel Hornet: Toshihiro Gamo Hornworm: Brad Smith Huntsman Spider: Bill & Mark Bell Jewel Beetles: Jean & Fred June Beetle: BlueRidgeKitties Katydid: Michael Schmidt Locusts: Hiroshi Yoshinaga Longhorn Beetle: Giovzaid85 Mayflies:Andrés Morya Mealworms: Wm Jas Midge: Joe Lapp Mopane Worms: Happy.apple Palm Weevils: Leo_theonlyone

Rhinoceros Beetle: Philippe Garcelon Scorpions: Jack Zalium Silkworms: Joel Abroad Stag Beetle: Rinaldo R Stick Insect: Blacktulip Stink Bug: Steve Begin Superworm: Brian Gratwicke Tarantulas: Istolethetv Termites: Patrick Randall Tiger Beetle:Jonathan Bliss Wasps: Nigel Marshall Water Boatman: Tom Heller Water Scorpion:Public.Resource.Org Waxworms: Rasbak Witchetty Grub: Nathan Johnson Woodlouse: Mark Robinson

All article references for this piece can be found here, courtesy of Yde Jongema, taxonomist from the Department of Entomology at Wageningen University.

Thanks also go to Daniella Martin from Girl Meets Bug for her edible insects list, which was referred to more than a few times! Her book, Edible: An Adventure into the World of Eating Insects and the Last Great Hope to Save the Planet, is well worth the read!

Edible Bug Farm Article

Representing Edible Insects in Parliament


As part of Nottingham Day in Parliament on 25 October, a team from Woven Network travelled to Westminster to represent and promote edible insects in the Houses of Parliament.

Woven Managing Director Nick Rousseau (Unconventional Connections) and Woven members Tony Askins (Next Step Foods) and Ross Bell (Kric8) were on hand to promote members’ products and the exciting potential of our growing UK-based edible insect industry.


Speaking to a representative of the Food Standards Agency, Tony received the impression that Brexit has “the potential to facilitate a smoother progression through the novel food process”, as any decisions and requirements of the FSA will presumably not have to be ratified by other EU members or the EFSA (European Food Safety Authority).

He was also informed that the Conservative government “could be good for the industry, as they are pro-entrepreneurship and less keen on regulations that might get in the way of business”.


Nick Rousseau had this to say:

We turned up at the “Green Room” which was on the other side of the square opposite the Houses of Parliament and set out our stall.  It was very impressive and the largest selection of insect-based food products I had certainly ever seen – possibly the largest in the UK.  We had everything from whole insects, flour, insect flavoured snacks, bars (with pieces to taste), pasta and pasta sauce as well as the Eat Grub recipe book and various bits of literature.

We all went over for the talk and discussion about the future of food in one of the rooms in Parliament, giving us a chance to see what it is like on the inside.  Very grand!  As a result of my lobbying, one of the University lecturers talked about insects and the potential role they could play, which I was able to pick up on along with a number of others in the Q&A.  Certainly some interest and I emphasised that there are plenty of successful products already on the market.

I had two conversations following the talk with the Chair of the Agriculture and Horticulture Development Board (levy organisation) and Sat Bains the chef – who agreed to talk to me later about experimenting with insects in his restaurant.


Comments from the day’s feedback form included:

Coffee and Vanilla, Dark Chocolate – both tasted okay, but in my mind I can’t get over the yuck factor, sorry!

Kric8 – dry roasted crickets. Tastier than I expected!  I like the texture!

Crunchy insects are great especially crickets –delicious!

Very tasty – liked the honey and mustard – get them in the high Street!

If only more people had an opportunity to try these innovative products – Excellent.  Why not book a stall at Sutton Bonnington Farmers Market at UoN SB Campus?

Woven Network plan to be involved with similar events in the future, and will be promoting insects as food and feed at Food Matters Live 22-24 November.


Interested in joining Woven Network? Click here for full details of our membership packages.

And if you’re interested in trying some tasty insect snacks, visit our Marketplace to order your roasted crickets, energy bars, protein powders and more!

FSA Report – Our Food Future

FSA (Our Food Future) - Featured Image

Very interesting to see the Food Standards Agency publish Our Food Future in February this year which includes quite a lot about edible insects and the challenges of building consumer acceptance of new forms of food.

This document is a literature review and synthesis of how food may have to change in the future to deliver what is needed, and the challenges associated with this.   It is part of a wider programme that aims to “put consumers first in everything we do” and ensure consumers have “the right to the best food future possible”. As well as a literature review it draws on recent public engagement activities run by the Wellcome Trust and Which?

Food Future report

The report contains a lot that would be of interest to any company seeking to create and market products for human consumption.

Some key points are:

  • Members of the public are generally not aware of the term “global food security” and they don’t think about the future of food or the issues around this – food is an immediate matter where their choices are based on short term considerations in the main.
  • For most people in everyday life food is not eaten as a result of rational deliberation – the most influential factors in food choice are price, quality and taste. Health considerations are subordinate to these and environmental considerations lesser still.  People will only change their approach to wider considerations where their immediate concerns around price, quality and taste are satisfied.
  • Food choices are heavily influenced by emotions, habit, convenience and a growing proportion of people’s choices are constrained by factors such as desire to lose weight, allergies, low incomes, cultural/religious considerations.
  • People are generally not aware of a “food system” – their perception of food innovation is associated with “unnatural, mechanised and alien”.
  • Eating meat can be fundamental to self and social identity – getting people to reduce their meat consumption is seen as much easier than persuading htem to stop entirely.
  • In considering new forms of food – various factors are considered. An assessment of risk (based on personal experience of risks and ill effects), the scale of the organism involved (high tech applied to small organisms seems to be more acceptable than to larger animals, for instance) and the degree of apparent naturalness…  Desire to see safe-guards in place to help with uncertainty.

The reference to eating insects is interesting (it seems best to quote it directly):

  • All other food technologies are much more emergent, attracting very little awareness among the public, and being very little researched to date in terms of public perceptions; these technologies include nanotech, and personalised nutrition advice based on genomics. In these spaces, experts call for awareness raising, or two-way dialogues in order to help the public establish their views. Finally, eating insects is an example of a potentially innovative practice (rather than a novel technology) which features in the literature. Indeed, eating insects is taken up by the wider public as the epitome of the debate on future foods – and is treated as novel, trivial, and revolting on social media, although in dialogue exercises it elicits few concerns, in principal at least (being both natural, and normal, somewhere).


  • While ‘food futures’ is beginning to appear as a professional agenda, the future is a dimension which is missing from public discourses around food. A telling example of this is provided by a ‘social listening’ study undertaken for the Wellcome Trust (OLR 2014); social listening, whereby researchers analyse content which has been shared through publicly-accessible social media platforms (largely Twitter and Facebook), provides an interesting complement to conventional market research methods, in that, while it is not derived from a representative sample of the public, it analyses discourses which were created without any researcher inputs (hence there is no chance of leading the public – a constant risk in areas of low salience and understanding). The OLR study reports that the social media debate was confined to future foods, was “small in volume and limited in scope”, and that “most of the people talking about the topic were not seriously engaged with the future of food” (ibid.: 44). They conclude that “any triggers in debate were drowned out by general noise – mostly around the novelty of eating insects” adding that such discussion tended to be approached from the perspective of ‘I’m a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here!’.


  •  Insects
    This review opened by noting that the public’s spontaneous discussions of future foods (as evidenced by social media) revolved around eating insects, and that the topic was commonly trivialised and expressed simply in terms of ‘yuck factor’ (OLR 2014). Eating insects is an innovative practice, rather than a novel technology; it tends to fare better in public dialogues than it does on say Facebook, and in the Which? 2015 exercise it met with a relatively positive reception, respondents noting that eating insects was common in other countries, some of which countries had healthier diets than our own – thus it could be said to be ‘natural’ if not ‘normal’ here (Piazza et al. 2015). In the Which? dialogue, participants were also relatively positive about the idea of using insects as animal feed – eg for chickens, which again was deemed acceptable as it was “fairly natural for chickens to eat flies” (Which? 2015: 37). Discussions became more complicated when the process of feeding the insects on waste products was introduced, with some participants worrying that chickens would end up indirectly being fed on their own wastes.

The report concludes that a concerted effort is needed to engage with the public and open them up to a greater level of trust in the food industry and in positive attitude to new food products and types, as part of supporting innovation in the food system.  This should mean that he Government and bodies like FSA will be supportive of Woven’s members.

We will maintain a dialogue with DEFRA and FSA with this in mind.  It seems very positive and a genuine desire to see more positive public reactions to innovative new types of food and my contact in DEFRA is keen to use Woven as a means of getting into a  dialogue with entrepreneurs.

Full Report on FSA Novel Foods Workshop

Food Standards Agency - Featured Image

Woven was represented at the workshop by Nick Rousseau, Managing Director.  In addition Neil Whippey of EatGrub participated, so was able to speak directly about the experience of a company making products for human consumption.

The process for submitting to secure Novel Food approval and role of Committee and FSA

The process is:

  • Food product company compiles a dossier of evidence and completes application form – submitting to FSA
  • FSA gets the committee to review the dossier and assess the risk
  • Committee may well go back to food company for additional details or to highlight areas of concern
  • Committee ultimately advise FSA on level and nature of risks associated with the food product
  • FSA determines how manageable the risks are and what measures should be taken (eg. Labelling)
  • FSA submits this to European Commission who will generally agree with assessments coming from the UK

The process can take up to 18m and the cost of an application is £4,000

What is submitted for approval could be either:

  • A specific product that contains insect material
  • Insect material ingredients

In the latter scenario, a number of companies that use the same ingredients could benefit from a blanket authority.  They must use essentially identical ingredients, however all complying with common standards.

The dossier of evidence can be very substantial and must include specific laboratory testing (at a recognized laboratory) that shows clearly the key nature of the product/ingredient that would enable a risk assessment to be carried out.  This will include both composition of the insect material plus any contaminants or other materials that might be introduced as a result of the farming method, environment, etc.  There will be significant costs in securing this analysis.

In the former case, if a company has a number of products with different insect materials they will each need individual authorization.

The authorization will specify a given set of restrictions on exactly what is accepted – variety of insect, conditions under which it is farmed, processes of manufacture undertaken, etc..  This will depend on the perception of the variables that could be expected to change the risk profile of the ingredient/product.

Situation regarding the current and new Novel Food Regulations

Companies making products with insect materials could apply right now for Novel Food acceptance.  Not required, however.

Currently any company can manufacture, market and trade food products in the UK that contain whole insects – eg cricket flour.  

From January 2018 it will be required that companies trading with food products containing insect materials submit applications for Novel food recognition, but will still be able to trade during the period during which the application is assessed – can take up to 18m

Particular issues that will affect protein alternatives – particularly food containing insect materials

We had an extensive debate about the fact that a large number of people in the UK (20-25%) are allergic to dust mites and the fact that insect protein will result in an allergic reaction, in some cases potentially very severed in individuals.  There is a need for research to understand the nature of this and how comparable it is to other allergens such as crustaceans, agreed standards for labelling to alert consumers, and post market studies to establish the actual impact on consumers from eating insect products.

The research involved needs to be seen to be independent of the businesses involved.

We were able to secure a commitment from the key member of the committee to find a way to balance the risks and opportunities so that businesses will be able to trade with products including insect material.

This raises many serious issues for the sector and for Woven, in terms of how we can support businesses with this.  One scenario is for Woven to act on behalf of its members and seek a blanket approval for insect ingredients used in a range of individual companies’ products, so that the cost and effort involved can be shared.

We are keen to hear your views!

Woven Survey of UK Insects for Food and Feed Researchers – help us build a picture of the sector!

Woven Survey - Featured Image

We are keen to build an accurate and comprehensive picture of the “insects for food and feed” sector in the UK.  This survey is targeted at researchers in the sector and will give us a sense of the key facts.

We will use your responses to build a report for the forthcoming conference in April and to press for the sector to be taken seriously.

Please do take the 10 minutes needed to help us help you!

Woven Researcher Survey

Woven Survey of UK Insects for Food and Feed Businesses – help us build a picture of the sector!

Woven Survey - Featured Image

We are keen to build an accurate and comprehensive picture of the “insects for food and feed” sector in the UK.  This survey is targeted at businesses in the sector and will give us a sense of the key facts.

We will use your responses to build a report for the forthcoming conference in April and to press for the sector to be taken seriously.

Please do take the 10 minutes needed to help us help you!

Woven Business Survey

BBC Future Food Award

BBC Food and Farming Awards - Featured Image

The BBC have opened nominations for their Food and Farming Awards 2016.

One of the categories is Future Food, where they are looking for:

“…cutting-edge innovation and pioneering work that could influence how the UK’s food will be grown, distributed and sold in future. This award is for an ambitious and ground-breaking idea found within the food supply chain; from initiatives by national retailers and major food and drink manufacturers to new models being put into practice by farmers and producers. We want to hear about the big ideas other food businesses will want to follow. It could be work that deals with sustainability, health, food safety, energy or waste; any initiative which is scalable, commercially viable and applicable to food production and distribution in the UK.”

If this sounds like you, or anyone you know, you can fill in the nomination form here.

Image Credits: BBC

European Novel Foods Regulations now recognise edible insects!

European Parliament - Featured Image

The European Parliament agreed a new set of Novel Food Regulations on 28 October which recognise that edible insects can be included – whether whole or only part of them.

This will require companies selling products that include insect material to comply with requirements to demonstrate their safety but companies already trading have some time to work up the necessary evidence.

Here is the full text of what was agreed.

It is not an easy ready so here is a link to an article that sets out the implications:


Woven will be keeping in touch with these developments and providing more info as things become clearer. Also, you can join the Forum to take part in discussions on the implications of all this and help us understand your position.


Image Credits: Wikimedia Commons