Eating bugs is a more sustainable way to get protein than eating meat.

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Though it tends to get ignored in favor of the more dramatic (and obvious) dangers posed by fossil fuels, the meat industry is a huge contributing factor in global climate change.

This happens in a couple of ways. For one, animals like cows produce a lot of methane, which doesn’t stay in the atmosphere as long as carbon dioxide, but is actually a more potent greenhouse gas while it is around. Cattle grazing land is constantly expanding, which results in the destruction of forests and an increase in soil erosion in those same regions. What’s more, for all the land and labor dedicated to raising cattle and other livestock, there are still people around the world who don’t have enough to eat because the distribution of that meat is so uneven.

Finding better, more efficient ways to feed everyone should be a major global concern for a few reasons. But raising and slaughtering more cattle isn’t going to solve that problem, which is why some scientists have turned to a food source that most humans have willfully ignored for millennia: insects.

In many places, eating bugs is seen as exotic or weird, but the fact is, some 1,900 species of bugs are eaten by as many as 2 billion humans around the world. Researchers at the American Chemical Society looked at four of these, crickets, grasshoppers, mealworms, and buffalo worms, and found that they definitely stack up against beef when it comes to protein, iron, and a number of other nutrients that humans need to survive.

“Crickets, for example, had higher levels of iron than other insects did. Minerals including calcium, copper, and zinc from grasshoppers, crickets and mealworms are more readily available for absorption than the same minerals from beef,” the abstract reads.

Insects like these not only provide the nutrients we usually get from eating fish and animals, but they’re actually easier for the human body to absorb. Not to mention the fact that bugs and worms can be raised much more cheaply than cattle, and would be better for the global climate (if properly controlled, of course).

Maybe it’s time we took eating bugs a lot more seriously.