Interview About Entoveganism

Josh Galt explains to L'Entomofago his views on Vegans and Entoveganism

This interview was originally done by L’ENTOMOFAGO in Italy, and can be read in Italian here. For the 3,000 word expanded responses where Josh goes into much more detail on the philosophy of Entoveganism, and his views on the entomophagy industry in general, read it at Entovegan.com.

by L’Entomofago.eu, published with permission.

Tell us shortly how you got interested in the edible insects world

In early 2016 as I was researching vertical farming methods, and looking for potential ideas around sustainable food production within cities, I ended up on a google deep dive on that topic that led me to a random article about farming insects in an abandoned warehouse.

There was some mention about sustainability and nutritional benefits, so I followed that rabbit trail from article to article, and – no joke – within 2 hours I was on the street excitedly buying fried crickets and mealworms to taste!

The crickets were palatable, the mealworms I thought tasted horrible. So I can still easily relate to peoples’ disgust at the idea of crunching down on some of these crazy-looking critters. I was there myself, not too long ago!

But the more I researched over the course of the year, the more I talked to locals, and the more I just kept sampling different insects, I realized that there are a lot of good reasons why a large percentage of the planet eats bugs regularly.

The obvious question: could a vegan eat insects?

I believe so, but of course then it wouldn’t be strictly “vegan” – thus I coined the term Entovegan to describe what it actually is.

Similar to a Vegetarian who eats fish going by the label Pescatarian, a Vegan who eats insects and other arthropods (known as Entomophagy), but no animal meats or by-products (eggs, dairy, oils, etc) would be considered an Entovegan.

Words have meaning, so technically the answer is “no, vegans can’t eat insects, because it’s an animal, not a plant”.

But that’s why I made up my own word combining vegan with ento, which has become synonymous in the industry with Entomophagy, or the human consumption of insects and other arthropods.

From a health perspective, I think it’s much more rational to eat insects alongside a vegan diet and be an Entovegan instead, for the added protein, vitamins, and minerals.

From an ethical standpoint, I haven’t heard a dogma-based argument against eating insects that holds up against a logical examination.

Everyone has their choices to make for themselves, and when a friend convinced me to go vegan, after researching a plant-based diet I was willing to do that – but I didn’t want to give up eating insects, which I’d come to relish and believe are healthy for me to consume.

So I made up my own framework and called it Entovegan – and so far I’m still convinced it’s the healthiest way forward for people, and the best way forward for the planet.

Do you think that most of the vegans have the same opinion?

I’ve been asking every vegan I’ve met for the past year and a half about eating insects. I find the response is usually “well, I’ve never really thought about eating bugs, actually…I guess if my life depended on it I might, but…gross.”

In my experience most vegans don’t like the idea of eating an “animal”, because it’s an animal.

But when shown the data on sustainability, positive impact on nutrition in the developing world, comparisons with other protein sources in efficiency of production and waste by-products, I mean, that’s all very much in line with an eco-friendly worldview.

So most vegans like the idea of insects being an eco-friendly food source, at that point, but then they think about the fact that it’s a bug, it’s alive, it’s fauna and not flora…and that’s hard for them to accept.

I’ve found that because it’s a new question that both touches their ethics and their phobias in ways they’ve never really faced before, most people won’t give me a definitive answer in the moment, other than to say that if there was nothing else for them to eat, they might resign themselves to eating bugs.

How can you convince a vegan that eating an insect is different from eating a cow?

Around 2 billion people on earth eat insects regularly. For the other 5+ billion people, I’d wager the majority of them look at insects as a plague, a nuisance, repulsive, or all of those.

So unlike furry cows, people do not have the same emotional connection to wriggling maggots or leggy locusts. For the most part, people are repulsed by insects, while big brown-eyed cows look so sweet and cuddly and elicit awwwww’s and hearts on social media. (Even though, in reality, they’re extremely destructive to the planet.)

Starting from that basis, then, there are fewer emotional barriers put up to the message of why crickets (or any edible insect) can be eaten.

The reality is that eating insects is very much in line with what makes up a large portion of the vegan worldview, setting aside for the moment they’re in the animal kingdom: environmental sustainability, nutritional benefit, global variety, and local economic gain.

Do you think that in general entomophagy will be soon a normal food habit also in the West?

I’m optimistic, but I think we have to be realistic as well.

If you look at where the investment money is going, you could make a really good case for the answer to this question being a resounding “no”, because around 95% of investment money the past several years has gone into the “Insects as Feed” category.

A few companies have received high-profile funding to target the consumer foods market, but it’s small compared to the investor dollars going to commercial farms to feed insects to fish and poultry.

While that may be discouraging to some who are passionate about Entomophagy, I think we should look long term.

Eating insects has been a staple in many cultural diets around the world, for millennia. Now, it’s meeting modern technological innovation – and that’s going to bring about some beneficial and environmentally-friendly changes for the human diet, along with positive economic impact in the developing world.

Personally, I feel better than I have in years eating insect protein instead of animal protein, and thanks to my time with Chef Melgarejo in Mexico, I’ve learned that insects really can taste delicious.

It’s just a mindset, a change of attitude. Look at the nutritional benefits eating insects can have on your health, the economic benefits to farmers in impoverished areas, and the long term net-positive impact on the planet, and then taste them with an open mind.

Read the unabridged answers at Entovegan.com.

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