Why insect farming may cause more suffering than livestock farming


The number of insects required to produce a single meal is orders of magnitude higher than the number of chickens or especially cows required to produce that meal. Even if we give insects less moral weight per individual than bigger animals, when we sum over all the insects involved, the total suffering to produce a meal adds up to a big amount. a For example: "One would have to eat about a thousand grasshoppers to equal the amount of protein in a twelve-ounce steak." I suspect one reason people don't mind eating insects as much as livestock is that people picture a single insect and think, "Meh, that little thing isn't very important. So I'm ok with eating insects." But they forget to add up all the insects that go into their food, which collectively look more like a big animal than a tiny one. In addition, insects may inherently suffer more than large animals if they have higher mortality rates. I don't have good data on mortality rates on insect farms. Presumably mortality rates are lower than in the wild, because farmed insects theoretically have more food, fewer predators, less disease, etc. That said, some insect farmers may not monitor conditions very closely, so it's likely that sometimes the farmed insects fare poorly. "A Bug's Life: Large-scale insect rearing in relation to animal welfare," section 3.3.6, discusses instances of high mortality rates from various diseases. Of course, wild insects probably have even higher mortality rates, and this is a main reason why I'm concerned about the vast amounts of insect suffering in nature. But even if farmed insects potentially live better lives than wild insects, this doesn't make it right to bring more of them into existence if their lives are still on average bad.

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  • Hi, - 80% of insect neurons in their central nervous system integrate what they sense into physiology related behavior other than feeling pain.

    Locusts being eaten by preying mantis will themselves just keep eating what had begun. Caterpillars being dug into by parasitic larvae will keep eating what had begun. Preying mantis males carry on mating even as female eats it.

    Contortions insects go through when restrained or poisoned ( insecticide) are driven by repetitive discharges occurring in the neurons of their abdomen. T his is a reflex rather than a reaction to pain.

    Insects do not act to avoid using an injured or damaged part of their body. They don't limp if it was an appendage & they do not stop eating if it was to their belly.

  • I think that insect farms will be scrutinized in future in regards to how they treat their livestock and humane killing.

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