One in five meat eaters from the Western world are ready to eat bugs as a meat substitute a new study has found – with men more likely than women to accept them.
Bugs have been touted as a meat replacement for some time now but a study from Ghent University has revealed that young men who have “weak” attitudes towards meat are going to be the most likely to adopt insects into their diet.
The study found that young men who are interested in novel foods and concerned about the environmental impact of their food are the most likely to be found snacking on insects.
Out of those questioned, 16.3% claimed to be ready, and 3% definitely ready, to eat the protein-rich, sustainable insects.
They also found that males are 2.17 times more likely to adopt insects than women.
This, they concluded, is because it “may be that males have a more adventurous taste orientation or find the idea of consuming insects less disgusting than women.”
Wim Verbeke who worked on the research said that a 10 year increase in age led to a 27% decrease in the chance of people eating insects.
“Men and younger consumers seem to have a more adventurous taste orientation or they find the idea of consuming insects less disgusting than women and older consumers.”
Those behind the study said that people who were likely to turn their noses up at bugs were likely to do so because the insects are produced and farmed in unknown ways.
“This indicates that insects are not only perceived as a novel food but also as food that is produced by unknown and unfamiliar technologies, thus leading to uncertainty and adverse reactions among consumers,” Verbeke added.
This could be solved by teaching people how insects are grown and produced, which would lead to a positive influence over their likelihood to eat the bugs, Verbeke said.
However, they concluded that typical Western “meat-lovers” would be unlikely to consider including insects in their diets.
In reality, the adoption of insects into a Western diet will come down to how they are branded and marketed.
Those who do adopt them are likely to be trendsetters and have a large potential influence over the general public.
Researchers conducted the study in Belgium and used a population of typical Western meat consumers with a total of 368 people participating in the survey.