Essento’s insect-based meat alternatives seek to change the way Europeans think about eating bugs, and reduce the environmental footprint of meat-heavy diets.

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), more than two billion people already consume insects on a regular basis, yet across Europe they’re still considered pretty gross. By processing insects into a range of insect burgers and balls, Essento hope to bring these nutritious food sources into the European diet. Since the Swiss government revised their food safety laws in 2017 to permit insect-based foods to be sold, Essento has partnered with major supermarket chain Coop to bring insects into the spotlight.

Eating insects can bring major health benefits. They’re full of important vitamins and minerals, like vitamin B12, iron and calcium. By weight, they supply a similar amount of protein to fish and other meat sources, as well as essential fatty acids found in avocados, nuts and fatty fish. Aside from the health benefits, insect-based meat alternatives have a much lower environmental footprint than conventional animal products. Per kilogram of equivalent edible protein, they produce less than 20 kg of CO2 equivalent, compared with 120 kg from beef. In addition, they consume far less water and one-tenth of the feed of beef, meaning they place much less strain on the earth’s resources.

Why you should care

The Western meat-centred diet is one of the most significant factors in our environmental footprint. It contributes to land degradation and deforestation, diverts food and water away from human consumption and drives up food prices, and causes undue suffering to sentient animals. Insects could be an important protein source that demands fewer resources and energy.

How the Global Goals are addressed

Zero hunger

Insects consume one-tenth the feed of beef per gram of equivalent protein. This means more food is available for the people who need it, with lower costs to the environment and the consumer.

Climate action

Insect-based meat alternatives create one-sixth of the greenhouse gas emissions of beef and half as much as pork. Eating more insects will help to reduce our carbon footprint.

Life on land

Insect production is far less land intensive than conventional livestock production. Switching to insects would reduce the pressure on deforestation and land-clearing for livestock.