I stopped being a vegetarian to eat the insects that are now on sale at Sainsbury’s
It is a smarter decision than you might think
Since the dawn of mankind, homo sapiens have had an unrelenting drive to look at literally anything that might contain even the slightest traces of protein and just shove it into their mouth for survival purposes. The proofs of such dubious exploits are still omnipresent. In the West and the East these legacies are still alive and well, that of Japanese fishermen who once said "nah, I don't need to cook that", and that of That one guy who once looked at a cow and thought: "I am going to squeeze that thing at the bottom and drink whatever comes out."
Food is weird and, as a vegetarian, meat seems even weirder. And as someone all too well accustomed to the rigid plainness of British cuisine, I was promptly weirded out when I found out Sainsbury's was to become the first UK retailer to sell actual roasted crickets for a budget price.
Eating insects (or entomophagy, if you wanna be fancy) goes back thousands of years in history, with ancient Algerians and Australian Aborigines are noted as prominent entomophagists, and even scoring a mention in the Bible: "Even these of them ye may eat; the locust after his kind, and the bald locust after his kind, and the beetle after his kind, and the grasshopper after his kind."
So anyway, back to Sainsbury's, the only establishment we apparently need at this point to make out minds up about snacking on grubs, that wonderful retailer of deep-frozen pizza and discounted gin'n'tonic where we could now acquire a bag of Smoky BBQ Crunchy Roasted Crickets for £1.50. It is a deal I couldn't possibly pass up on, and promised culinary adventures the likes I was totally willing to pass up my vegetarianism for and submerge myself into.
Here are the results.
Crickets apparently do not really have a taste on their own, and the strong BBQ seasoning acts as a sole arousal factor to the taste buds – so taste and consistency wise, this thing is really more akin to any barbecue-flavoured crisps you could find than to your average portion of meat.
However, it is more substantial and feels more natural than BBQ Pringles or Lay's. Perhaps it is just the knowledge that you are not just eating a wedge of potato that has been dripped in an ungodly load of chemicals, but rather something that used to be a living being. In this case, and this case only, that is a good thing.
As I noted in the video above, I had no clue about how I was actually supposed to ingest these lil' buddies, so I opted for a hummus-based sandwich version that did the job quite nicely. The BBQ flavour was surprisingly strong, so if you are planning on eating this not as a snack, but as part of a meal, I suggest you pick your seasoning with the knowledge that this will be the domineering flavour. Your run-of-the-mill peppers or plain sides will do just fine.
That being said, maybe I am an idiot for trying to conceive ways of building this into my regular five-a-day, and should make peace with the fact that this was intended as a snack, as it says on the label. Eat Grub and Sainsbury's obviously don't want to make this the cornerstone of anyone's diet (though it might be funny to see them try).
According to them however, one in five shoppers has an open mind for eating bugs as alternative protein source or for health purposes – I don't know how sales have been going so far, but there definitely are some prospects in this endeavour. Keep it up, you guys.
It might not come as a surprise, but the reason I decided to have a go at these crickets without much guilt about having my weirdest cheat day ever is that if you are considering the environment as the biggest incentive for your vegetarianism/veganism, you might be delighted to find out that consuming insects does not add much to your carbon footprint.
Sure, a plant-based diet is still the number one thing one can do to reduce their impact on the planet, but bugs are arguably still the most ethical type of meat to eat. According to Eat Grub co-founder Shami Radia, they are estimated to release 80% less methane than cows, and farming them obviously comes with less water and land costs. Considering that, it might not seem that weird after all to munch on some grubs from time to time.