Vegans won't eat bugs to save the planet, study finds

Insects have been hailed as the future of food by environmentalists, but not everyone wants to eat them.

Least of all vegans.

A new study has found vegans hold "the most rigid negative attitude" towards eating bugs, while their vegetarian colleagues are the most open to it - even more so than omnivores.

Researchers in Finland surveyed more than 560 people - nearly three-quarters were omnivores, 22 percent vegetarians and 5 percent vegans.

"Vegans were significantly more determined than others that they would not eat foods of insect origin, even if they were nutritious, safe, affordable, and convenient," the University of Eastern Finland said in a statement.

Insects aren't yet a staple of Western diets, but experts in recent years have been calling on the world to cut back on the consumption of resource-intensive animal meat. Insects don't require as much resources to farm, and are high in protein.

While it might seem ironic that vegans won't eat insects, with veganism closely linked to concerns "about animal welfare and the environment", the researchers say they expected the results.

"Vegans thought that insect consumption is irresponsible and morally wrong," said study co-author Prof Anna-Liisa Elorinne.

"Vegans see insects as living beings, just like any other animals. It was also highlighted in the vegans' survey responses that eating insects in the West doesn't solve the world's shortage of food, especially when edible food goes to waste all the time."

On the other hand, omnivores in the study associated meat consumption with "luxury, status, taste, and good health", and said it was "natural, normal, necessary, and nice".

But neither vegans, vegetarians nor omnivores may have much choice of what to eat soon, with reports insect numbers worldwide are on the verge of collapse.

The study was published in journal Nutrients.