Nutrition is one of the cornerstones of health. As a result, it is natural for cat owners to take an interest in the contents of cat food. Generally speaking, interested individuals pay a lot of attention to the primary source of protein, which makes sense because cats are obligate carnivores. Common examples include but are not limited to chicken, beef tallow, egg product, fish meal, and chicken by-product meal. However, cat food also contains carbohydrates, nutritional supplements, and preservatives. Simply put, the ingredients can see significant variation from product to product. Furthermore, the ingredients are continuing to change because of the manufacturers’ interest in making a more profitable product, which is why insect protein is seeing more and more use.
Why Is Insect Protein Being Pushed So Much?
Fundamentally, meat is expensive. The exact numbers can see significant variation from case to case. However, producing meat is guaranteed to be much more resource-intensive than producing plant matter for the same purpose. After all, the meat that we eat tends to come from either herbivores or omnivores, which need to continue eating food until they have matured enough for them to be butchered. It is impossible for one pound of food to be translated into one pound of meat, thus making it impossible for the production of meat to use less resources than the production of plant matter. From an economic perspective, producing meat from a carnivorous species is even worse because said animals would have to eat other animals, which in turn, have to eat plant matter. This is the reason that the meat that we eat tends to come from either herbivores or omnivores, though there are exceptions to this rule. One excellent example would be the consumption of wild carnivorous fish. Another excellent example would be the consumption of farmed alligators and crocodiles.
Regardless, this means that feeding a cat can be rather expensive, particularly since cats are obligate carnivores. Interested individuals will note that the aforementioned sources of protein tend not to be what most people would consider to be prime cuts of meat. For example, beef tallow is rendered beef fat. Similarly, poultry by-product meal is a nice way of saying the ground-up necks, intestines, and other parts of other chickens that tend not to be consumed by humans. Some of the aforementioned sources of protein are more palatable-sounding. However, they still tend to be on the cheaper side of things. For instance, producing beef uses up something like ten times more resources than producing poultry, pork, eggs, and dairy. Otherwise, the cost of cat food would soar, which in turn, would reduce the number of cat owners interested in buying it.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, meat production is very bad for the planet. It uses up a huge amount of food production resources. Furthermore, it releases a huge amount of greenhouse gases, which cause the planet’s average temperature to rise by trapping a bigger percentage of the sun’s radiated energy within the atmosphere rather than letting it escape back into space after reflecting off of the surface of the Earth. This is particularly problematic because climate change is threatening to change the basic conditions for food production, thus reducing the amount of food production resources that is available for use. Even worse, there are plenty of places where people aren’t practicing sustainable food production, which is another factor that is reducing the amount of food production resources that is available for use.
Simultaneously, people are becoming wealthier in a wide range of places. As people become wealthier, they consume more meat because most people like the taste of meat, which is a serious problem because the planet will struggle to support a global population that eats the same way that the developed world does in the current time. Theoretically, the developed world could tell the developing world to do otherwise while continuing unchanged. In practice, that would never work because that kind of attitude would irk the basic sense of fairness. As such, the entire planet needs to make changes in our food consumption choices, which makes sense because climate change is an issue for the entire world.
Insect protein is being pushed because its production uses less resources than the production of more conventional forms of protein. For instance, producing a pound of mealworms results in 1 percent of the greenhouse gas emissions as producing a pound of beef, which should make the comparison between the two options very clear. To a considerable extent, insect protein is so much less resource-intensive because insects are cold-blooded, meaning that they use less energy than their warm-blooded counterparts. However, there are also other factors at work.
What Is Hindering Its Use?
A wide range of parties have started pushing for the consumption of insect protein over its more conventional counterparts. However, its adoption hasn’t happened all of a sudden, not least because most people in the developed world don’t see insects as an acceptable form of food. Still, there is reason to believe that this is something that can be overcome with sufficient time as well as sufficient effort. After all, there are plenty of other countries that do consume insects on a regular basis. One excellent example would be how people used to collect locusts for consumption, which was motivated by necessity as much as anything else because locust swarms are a nightmare for food producers for obvious reasons.
Unfortunately, the consumption of locusts can be a very bad idea in modern times because of the way that people combat them by spraying pesticides en masse, meaning that consumption can cause the build-up of hazardous chemicals in human systems. Still, the non-swarming counterparts of locusts remain edible, so much so that they can be found as street food in certain places. For that matter, it is worth remembering that people in the developed world already eat things that aren’t that different from insects appearance-wise. After all, shrimp aren’t that different from insects in many aspects of their appearance. Regardless, even if people take time to start consuming insect protein, using it to replace more conventional forms of protein in other applications can still prove very helpful. It might not be much in the grand scheme of things, but climate change is something for which every bit of benefit counts.