In a paper published in the journal, PLoS ONE, scientists at Wageningen University in The Netherlands proposed that eating mealworms is a more sensible way of acquiring protein in the diet than eating chicken, pork or cattle. Per the article:
Compared to a kilogram of edible protein in meat from cows, chickens or pigs, production of the same amount of mealworm protein emits fewer greenhouse gases and requires much less land to grow. The findings support the argument that environmentally conscious eaters may do well to include beetle larvae in their diets. "This study demonstrates that mealworms should be considered a more sustainable source of edible protein," the team writes in a paper published yesterday in the journal PLoS ONE...Among the things that the worm-like larvae have going for them, they don't emit methane. Also, they are prolific. Depending on the species, females release up to 1,500 eggs over a lifetime. Larvae develop quickly and they convert their food into protein efficiently, at a similar rate to chicken but better than pigs and cattle.
Wyatt, no one has a protien deficiency unless they are not eating adequate calories. Americans seem to think we need huge amounts of protein...which we don't. At my weight I only need about 50 grams a day. Protein is in EVERYTHING. My flax bread has 8 grams a slice, my nutritional yeast has 6 grams per tablespoon, beans have tons of protein...and all these protein sources have FIBER....meat does not. What meat does have is saturated fat and cholesterol....plant food have NO cholesterol. Even vegetables have protein. The "complete protein" myth was debunked in the 1970's. You don't need all your amino acids in one food. But if you did, tofu and quinoa are jsut two examples of foods with complete proteins. Quinoa is very digestible.
Since I eat tons of vegetables so vitamin A is not a concern at all.
B12 is produced by bacteria. A few humans produce enough from the bacteria in their own bodies. Most of us need supplements. And older people (regardless of diet) need to have their B12 levels checked regularly. Our ability to absorb B12 from food can diminish with age, causing deficiency and dementia-like symptoms. Many foods are fortified with B12, including soy milk and Nutritional Yeast. My B12 levels are great.
Vitamin D: Again everyone need to watch this one. MOST people in the US have low levels of Vitamin D in their bodies in the winter....not enough sunlight. Vitamin D3 is found in animal products, although there is a lichen that produces it...this is used for a D3 supplement. D2 is abundant from plant sources and when a doctor puts a patient on a vitamin D regimine when they are deficient...they give you 50,000 units of D2.....plant source. Not sure where you got the idea that vitamin D is animal source only.
Basically a vegan diet is superior to an omnivorous one in every way. I only take vitamin D supplements in the winter, omega 3 from algae, foods fortified with B12 regularly ( I love nutritional yeast in lots of recipes so I get thousands of times the recommended dosage without trying). I have an extremely healthy diet....based on whole foods: friuts, vegetables, whole grains,legumes, etc. A "junk food vegan" who is only interested in saving animals might need to be careful. But my diet is FAR healthier than the average omnivore and I am EXTREMELY healthy with all the blood work and medical tests to prove it.
I don't like it when omnivores try to pretend vegan diets are deficient. These people never seem very concerned with their OWN diets...whcih are almost always crappy. Vegans don't need to worry about supplements anymore than omnivores. On average vegans are far healthier and a recent study shows that a vegan diet prevents many forms of cancer.
Process the meal worms into something that does not resemble a bug and I might try it. No effing way am I crunching up bugs in my mouth otherwise, and end up picking out legs and antennae out of my teeth.
So will it be marketed as a luxury food or a staple ?
What do they taste like ?
I understand the diet is important. For example, I wouldn't eat pigs fed on excrement like in India. I find that corn fed chicken is tastier than chicken fed cheaply. Africans prize bush-meat because it eats highly nutritious food from the jungle.
I looked in to growing mealworms to feed my chickens. It's not magic. The mealworms need to be fed protein. They will thrive on spoiled food, which is interesting, but they also pass botulism and other toxins along to whatever eats them. I have seen documentation of chickens killed by eating mealworms that were raised on garbage. Most higher animals show symptoms if they are carrying something that would hurt people.
If the economy decays enough to make mealworms attractive, I think grain+legume protein complexes would beat them.
No, thank you. If they convert food to protein at a similar rate as a chicken, I'd rather eat chicken. I do know that insects ARE eaten in some cultures, and our early ancestors probably did eat insects, but I'm nuthin' if not a picky eater, LOL!!
What is disconcerting is that the vegan diet is not well-balanced; it is very hard to get the right amounts of all the necessary nutrients and calories without chomping on plant material continuously throughout the day like a farm animal.
This isn't true. I eat a very bulky diet compared to most vegans, because I'm making up for not being able to eat some high-protein foods like legumes by eating a lot of vegetables. Yet I can't spend much time eating. I actually have to use an airline respirator indoors because I had my dog in my house for years and I developed a horrible allergy to dog dander. My house is contaminated with it, I can't take a single breath indoors without getting sick for days. So I eat outside, and it's winter now, it was 20 F this morning. Some days I eat only 2 meals.
I just got used to eating a large amount of food at one sitting. People are quite flexible in what they can get used to.
I take a practical attitude towards diet - whatever works. I don't have to take an onerous amount of supplements, even with all the food restrictions from allergies. One vegan told me she'd checked her diet with a nutrition program like the Cron-o-meter and found it was adequate in all nutrients except B12. This probably doesn't include choline, since most vegan diets wouldn't have the "adequate intake" of choline as defined in the U.S. (my diet actually does have the AI pretty much, just from all the vegetables).
I've read that historically, plant food was contaminated enough by insects that people got enough B12 just from the bugs in it!
Actually things like the global warming and environmental impact of animal food, especially large animals like cows and sheep, argue for less animal food in the diet. The animal food industry uses a huge amount of water and land - there are looming problems with water resources in the western U.S. - and pollutes a lot with the animal manure. They pool the pigshit in giant ponds. Sometimes the manure gets out and contaminates vegetables, like the time some spinach got contaminated with a dangerous variety of E. Coli.
Also the treatment of animals, especially large smart animals like pigs, in factory farms is a real ethical concern. Pigs are smarter than dogs, likely conscious or more conscious than dogs, but the treatment of animals out of sight of the public is pretty much only based on what results in the best yield of meat (or dairy). I don't think animals are well treated in the factory farms.
I've never much liked eating meat, and the only animal foods I can eat with my allergies are a few exotic meats like lamb, rabbit, venison, ostrich, probably rattlesnake :) which I eat maybe once every few months.
Here is a quick summary of dietary influences in cancer: http://pubs.ext.vt.edu/348/348-141/348-141_pdf.pdf
There's a vast publication summarizing research on diet and cancer published by the American Institute for Cancer Research, I'm not sure if it's still online. Fruits and vegetables are protective, high meat/high fat etc. tends to cause cancer.
Also see http://www.dietandcancerreport.org/