In a new study, researchers from the University of Eastern Finland have investigated vegans’, vegetarians’ and omnivores’ attitude to diets which include insects. Vegetarians and omnivores were found to be open to including insects in their diets, but this was not an option for vegans.
The researchers investigated the attitudes, subjective norms and perceived behavioural control of participants in relation to the consumption of insect-derived foods, and the conditions for consumption of these foods by each dietary group. A total of 567 people took part in the study through an online survey. 73 percent of the respondents were omnivores, 22 percent vegetarians and 5 percent vegans.
The results of the study showed that vegans generally had a strong negative stance towards eating insects. The subjective norm and the perceived behaviour control was also more pronounced compared to omnivores and vegetarians. In addition, vegans were much more determined than omnivores and vegetarians not to consume food with insects, even if the food was nutritious, safe, affordable and convenient.
“That’s what we expected: We expected differences between these three groups and we expected vegans to have the most negative attitude towards insect consumption. Vegans view insects as living creatures, just like any other animal. This was also highlighted in the survey results. Vegans often believe that eating insects in the West won’t eliminate world hunger, especially if edible food continues to be wasted,” says Professor Anna-Liisa Elorinne of the University of Eastern Finland.
Consumption of insect-derived foods is currently being promoted in response to the environmental impact of meat production. Insect-based foods have a relatively low environmental footprint and can be a sustainable complement to existing protein sources due to their high nutrient content.
In Western countries, insects are traditionally not considered food and consumers are reluctant to eat food derived from them. However, as consumers become more aware of the environmental impact of food production, the likelihood of them accepting insects as a food also increases.