Welsh School Pupils Offered Bugs as ‘Alternative Protein’ Source

Experiment aims to ascertain children’s attitudes to “environmentally friendly” foods

Image Credits: Juancho Torres/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images.

Four schools in Wales will be offering primary school pupils bugs as an “alternative protein” source in a project directed to ascertain children’s attitudes to “environmentally friendly” foods.

Academics at Cardiff University and the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) are targeting children ages 5-11 in this experiment offering plant-based and insect-based protein replacements.

The trial seeks to gain a closer understanding to the pupil’s attitude towards alternative protein sources.

And teachers’ attitudes will also be surveyed in the study, as they are expected to lead discussions in the classrooms on the matter.

Pupils will be offered bugs in workshops on the environment and sustainability as the UK takes aim at curbing the consumption of animal products such as beef and chicken.

Experts say that insect farms emit 75% less carbon than poultry farms.

“The kids will learn the nutritional and environmental benefits of eating insects, such as crickets, grasshoppers, silkworms, locusts and mealworms,” WION reports.

During the workshops, the kids will be given a foodstuff known as VeXo — which is a blend of plant-based and insect-based protein, described as being a “conventional mince”.

‘We want the children to think about alternative proteins as real things for now, rather than just as foods for the future, so trying some of these foods is central to the research,’ said Christopher Bear, of Cardiff University, according to Metro.

‘Although edible insects are – for now – not sold widely in the UK, they form part of the diet of around 2 billion people worldwide.

‘Much of this is in parts of the world where they are part of long-standing culinary traditions.

‘And they are increasingly popular elsewhere.’

Although alternative protein sources are on the rise, they have proven less popular than expected with stocks tanking and a high profile class action lawsuit against Beyond Meat for their overstated protein content.

The push to promote “alternative protein” sources such as insects, plant-based, and even plastic has been met with some pushback.

The reality is that animal-based protein sources are still king for muscle protein synthesis and longevity — and not all protein sources are equal.

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