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Discussion in 'General' started by Scott Joplin, Sep 22, 2018.
Could this be the healthy, sustainable and ethical choice, if not now, in the near future?
There are several "pro-insect" arguments. The ones that I'm most familiar with is
1. Insects are "barely animals". They have incredibly small brains.
2. Insects are a good source of "animal protein".
3. Insects are efficient or cost effective.
1. The barely animals argument is usually posited as an ethical argument. Insects are not sentient or don't feel pain or something like that. There are at least two problems with that. One is that we can't really be sure that they don't feel pain - they definitely respond to stimuli. Also although their brains are really small - many insects are capable of sophisticated behavior. So again we can't really be sure what goes on in their tiny little insect brains. but my favorite argument for not eating insects is basically the slippery slope or fuzzy line issue. Where do we draw the line? If insects are ok, how about marine invertebrates - they don't even have brains. If lobsters are ok, then what about squids? Octopusses?
I think the best and safest ground is just sticking with the definition of animals.
2. The animal protein argument doesn't work when you realize that plant protein is just as good if not better than animal protein. We don't need a good source of animal protein. We have all kinds of good sources of protein in the plant world.
3. As of right now, insects as food are not efficient or cost effective. When an insect eats plant foods and makes itself bigger it is not much more efficient than a chicken. About 33%. About 2/3 of the calories the insect eats is just used in insect metabolism. From our point of view that is just wasted calories. It's possible to get higher efficiencies with better food. but then if they are eating better food that better food - we could be eating directly. With little or no waste. The pro insect people often state that they are just eating "farm waste", so the insect feed is free. But the lower the quality of feed, the lower the efficiency of the insects. Farm waste can just be composted. And some companies are turning farm waste into other products - like shoes.
People are still experimenting with insects as food. So maybe someday the numbers will be better. But for now, we don't think its ethical, we don't need it, and there is a better alternative - eat plants.
I don't support this, but I read this a while back and thought it was worthwhile:
It's probably more ethical than meat, but that is an extremely low bar. Would a lack of awareness and ability to suffer (and I dont concede this is the case for insects as it is fundamentally unknowable) make it okay to harm them, or deny them autonomy over their lives and bodies? Would that apply to comatose patients?
That is a very good article. There are a number of points that are arguable.
Just one is that the number of incidental deaths during farming is much lower than thought. There have been a number of studies both in the UK and the USA. My favorite was with the radio-tagged mice. It turns out that mice can figure out which way to run away. However, most of the mice disappeared pretty soon after. The biologists think the lack of cover increased the rate of predation.
The author did mention that "that incidental animal deaths caused from growing kale are ethically preferable to directly killing animals to eat bacon". But didn't mention that the pigs also eat harvested crops. In fact, they eat almost as much crops as people do.
He also didn't mention that the insects also eat crops. Mostly its farm waste but the lower the quality of the insect feed - the less insect protein can be harvested. Plus there are other uses for farm waste.
But still, it is an interesting topic. but you won't see me lining up for some deep fried crickets or mealworm burgers. But you know it could be a good alternative for cat food.
Thank you Lou for your reply. It is an interesting topic. I have a vegan friend who can't bear the thought of feeding her cats other animals, insects could be an alternative, are there others that you know of?
I don't have a cat and I don't know much about what you feed them. I do have vegan friends with dogs and some of those dogs eat a vegetarian diet. I know that they supplement their dog's diets. I'm not sure that is possible to do with cats. cats (unlike dogs) are obligate carnivores.
A while back there was a thread on vegan cats.
I don't think there is any useful info in it. but I would recommend that you have your vegan friend discuss this with her veterinarian before she tries anything. (My local vet sells vegetarian dog food but as far as I know there are no vegetarian cat foods.) the above thread references a facebook group of vegan cat owners.
I've seen cats play with bugs and eat avocados. So maybe an avocado and bug Friskee dinner is possible.
Hi Lou, thank you for the suggestions
there are tens of thousands of healthy thriving vegan cats around now. Many people not aware of this. My cat is vegan and healthy. Lists of the options and ready made vegan dog cat and ferret foods here...http://vegan-information.com/Vegan_Dogs_and_Cats.html