One in five Australians say they’re willing to eat insects

Matthew SmithHead of Data Journalism
November 05, 2021, 10:24 AM GMT+0

Even more of us would be willing to chow down on food with insect ingredients

With COP-26 in full swing looking for a solution to the world’s emissions problems, one big cause of climate change that has become increasingly apparent is the meat and dairy industry. According to the UN, the meat and dairy industry accounts for 14.5% of global greenhouse gas emissions.

While obviously it is possible to solve this problem by simply switching to a vegetarian or vegan diet, some have proposed a different solution: bugs. Insect farming reportedly produces one hundredth of the emissions that equivalent cattle or pig output is responsible for.

Now a new international YouGov survey conducted in 17 countries and regions shows how many people might be willing to make the shift.

Topping the list are online Mexicans. Fully four in ten (40%) say they would be willing to eat food with insect ingredients as part of their regular diet, or are already doing so. Indeed, one in three (33%) say the same about eating whole insects. There is a long history of insect-eating in Mexico, which is home to more edible insect species than any other country in the world.

Some way behind, in second and third place, are Emiratis and online Indonesians. About one in three of both groups (31-32%) would consider or are already consuming food with insect ingredients as a frequent activity, and 25% of each are either eating or willing to eat whole insects.

Here in Australia, a quarter (27%) would take up eating tucker from termites, and 21% would be ok eating bugs whole - a fitting revenge for all the trauma caused by toilet-hiding spiders and other insect annoyances.

In the UK, one in five Britons (21%) say they would be willing to eat insect-infused food, if they aren’t already, and one in seven (14%) say they could consider chomping on a cricket. Americans are somewhat more adventurous, with a quarter (25%) willing to ingest insect ingredients, and 18% would be willing to eat whole bugs. A YouGov US study earlier in the year showed a similar number (26%) willing to try cicada-based dishes.

Italians are the least likely to say they would be willing to chow down on bug matter – perhaps unsurprising given they’ve got the world’s favourite cuisine on hand. Just 17% of Italians would be willing to eat food made of insects, and only 13% would be ok with biting into a whole bug.

Men are more willing to consume creepy crawlies

Across every country and region polled, men prove more willing to gobble a grasshopper than women (or at least, to talk big about doing so!)

When it comes to foods with insect ingredients, the gender gap is biggest in Australia, where 37% of men and 18% of women say they would be willing to incorporate such sustenance into their diet.

On eating bugs wholesale, the gap is largest among online Mexicans, among whom 40% of men and 26% of women could consider it.