Do Vegans Eat Insects?

Vegan? Vegetarian? Paleo? Pescatarian? How do you define yourself in relation to your food habits?

When one aligns with a particular ‘ism’ related to diet, it is generally for a very specific reason. Perhaps one is looking to eat healthier in order to build a healthier body, or perhaps one has definitive views around eating something with a face. Maybe it’s a combination of both, or maybe for a completely different reason.

When I was 18, back in 1990, my mother and I were watching an episode of Donahue. (If you have 45 minutes, I highly recommend watching this). The episode featured Lisa Bonet, River Phoenix, Raul Julia, and John Robbins. They were discussing veganism and vegetarianism. Robbins was discussing his book, Diet for a New America. When the episode was over, literally as soon as it was over, my mother and I went to the nearest health food store to find this book. We found it. I cracked the spine immediately, and by the time I was halfway through, I declared that I would only eat a vegan diet. Veganism was very difficult for me to maintain, and I bridged into becoming a vegetarian; eating no fish, meat or poultry, but eating eggs and milk products. That seemed to work, and there I stayed for 18 years. Happily. I had chosen vegetarianism for my own health, as well as to take a stand against the mass production of animals, and the abhorrent ways that animals were being treated (for the most part) for meat production. Watching a calf get torn from its mother to become veal made the largest impression on me; and that image will forever be imprinted in my heart.

It all came to a halt, when after suffering from vertigo on and off, and experiencing a rare form of pica, I found I was dangerously low in B12. After doing a bit of research, I discovered that B12 was necessary for the myelin sheath that covers the dendrites in our brain, and that without the proper sheath, one could experience neurological problems. Between that and my dreams of eating crispy chicken skin, I decided to eat meat products again instead of taking B12 injections. Afterall, I had chosen to be a vegetarian to improve my health, not worsen it, and that was exactly what was happening.

Enter insects into the picture.

High in B12, protein, iron, calcium, fibre, and prebiotic, all nine essential amino acids, and boasting a perfect Omega 6:3 ratio. And, if that’s not enough, their ecological footprint is far smaller than any other protein source on the planet…including soy (a main source of protein for most vegans and vegetarians).

Now the conversation gets interesting. I have spoken to many vegans and vegetarians who have welcomed insects into their diet. I have spoken to others who have not. Again, it all comes down to why you have chosen the lifestyle you have.

I was recently at an event where I came across a few vegans. Well that’s putting it nicely. The truth is, I was recently at an event where two angry vegans approached me aggressively, shouting at me about what a horrible person I am for being involved in insect farming (for overall human health, and health of the planet, mind you).  I welcome that conversation. Especially given my story. There was no conversation to be had. They cast their stones and ran the other way.

We all have our reasons, we all have our stories. But they are my reasons, not yours. They are my stories, not yours. I can not force you, pressure you, shame or guilt you into making a decision. But what I can do is inform and educate, and all I can hope for is that the conversation will continue.

Check out this amazing article, put out by The Huffington Post: If Vegans Replaced Plants with Insects

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