The zoologist Jordi Casamitjana explains why vegans do not eat insects, and they should not eat the new foods containing insect flours either

I meant to do it much sooner.

Considering that my journey to veganism was significantly accelerated due to an amazing encounter I had with a wasp about 40 years ago, I should have written an article about insects much sooner. Well, I have already written several; apart from scientific papers when I was a PhD student in Barcelona, I have written others, and some specifically about wasps, but what I mean is that I should have written an article about why vegans should not even consider the possibility of eating any product that contains ingredients produced by farming insects, let alone eating the insects themselves (although we may accidentally eat some from time to time when they end up in our food without us realising it).  

A recent article published in the Scientific American magazine induced me to write it now. It is titled “Do Insects Feel Joy and Pain?” And it made me think that we have reached a stage where most reputable scientists are prepared to accept something obvious to me (and anyone who has studied insects’ behaviour) for decades: all insects are sentient beings, as we are, who can suffer, as we can. However, if the recognition of the sentience of more and more non-human animals is a welcomed development of humanity, unfortunately, that is not enough. The exploitation of insects has never been bigger than today, so trillions of these creatures are now joining that infamous category of sentient beings who are exploited, hurt, and killed by people who, although they may now accept they suffer, don’t care enough about them to stop exploiting them.

If sentient mammals like pigs, who have now been found to have intelligence closer to human intelligence than we ever thought, are still bred and killed in factory farms in countries that boast to have the best animal welfare legislation in the world, what hope would insects have to be treated with any respect?

Frustrating as this is for me, at least I should find solace in that my fellow vegans would not be willingly consuming them, right? However, despite how obvious this statement sounds, there are people today who consider themselves vegan who may be thinking of eating insects in the future, if presented to them disguised in food. And there are already people today who call themselves vegans who already eat insects regularly and think this is the right way to go. These have even a name. They call themselves Entovegans (ento means insect). 

Imagine the ethical consequences of someone switching from a diet that involves the deaths of X sentient beings to one that involves the deaths of 200,000,000 X sentient beings (because this is the sort of exponential death tally increase that would go from eating mammals to eating insects) and justifying it under the  “vegan” label.

This unfortunate revival of cognitive dissonance in some post-vegans is worrying enough to make me want to write an article reminding anyone why vegans don’t eat insects.  

Who are the Insects?

Insects on a white background under water on a rocky bottom By Protasov AN via Shutterstock (239150362)

Living on planet Earth and not knowing who the insects are, is like working in a library and not knowing what a book is. Yet, humanity is so anthropocentric that most people still cannot tell the difference between an insect and any other small creature. If an alien landed on this planet with a mission to report who are the main sentient inhabitants of Earth, such an alien would probably be describing insects, as they outnumber any other animal by a great margin. 

Like the arachnids (spiders and scorpions,) the myriapods (millipedes and centipedes) and the crustaceans (crabs and lobsters) insects are a type of arthropod (animals characterised to have an articulated external skeleton). Although people use the generic term “bug” to lump terrestrial arthropods together, insects are a separate group from spiders, as the former have six legs while the latter have eight. Technically, an insect is any member of the Class Insecta, which belongs to the subphylum Hexapoda (six-legged animals), which belongs to the Phylum Arthropoda. However, although all insects have six legs, not all arthropods who have six legs are insects, as the Collembola (springtails), Protura (coneheads), and Diplura (two-pronged bristletails), which in the not-too-distant past used to be considered primitive wingless insects, now they form their own separate groups.  

Insects are the largest group within the arthropod phylum, and they all have a chitinous exoskeleton, a three-part body (head, thorax and abdomen), three pairs of jointed legs, compound eyes and one pair of antennae. Like us, they have an effective digestive system, a sexual reproductive system, an evolved endocrine system (yes, they have hormones too), and a very sophisticated nervous system that, like us, it has a central part that includes local ganglia and a relatively large brain.

Their brain is connected to many senses, often much more complex than ours. They can see colours we cannot see; perceive smells we cannot detect; feel vibrations we cannot notice; see polarised light, feel the earth’s magnetic field, and sense heat from a long distance (we cannot do any of that);  even taste with their legs (only drunk people may attempt this). 

They can move very fast by flying, running or swimming; build complicated structures with all sorts of materials; communicate by smell, sight, sound, or even light; they can cleverly disguise themselves as other species or even vegetation; they can even digest wood, which no vertebrate has ever managed to do. 

They have the most advanced societies on the planet. Perhaps not as sophisticated as ours in some respects, but more advanced from a biological point of view, as the highest level of organisation of true society that has evolved, what scientists call eu-societies, have been achieved mostly by insects (such as bees, wasps, ants, and termites —this is a fascinating subject you can read about in the article I wrote on wasps).

Insects are the most diverse group of animals, with more than a million described species and represent more than half of all known living organisms. Potentially, over 90% of the macroscopic animal life forms on Earth are insects.  Some estimates suggest that there are approximately 1.4 billion insects for every human on Earth, and the number of individual insects estimated to be on the planet alive today is counted in quintillions. So, the hypothetical alien would be right in describing the typical sentient Earthling as an insect, and if that alien civilisation thought that the Earth was about to be destroyed, they would need to use 1.8 billion rockets of the biggest sizes we have to evacuate these typical earthlings to Mars (considering a total mass of all insects on Earth of 30 billion metric tons, and that a Falcon Heavy rocket can send about 16.8 metric tons to Mars) — by the way, if you think this scenario is ridiculous, what is more likely than the members of an alien civilisation resembles a human or an insect?

Wimsicle analogies apart, the bottom line is that insects are a type of animal, and this is the main reason vegans don’t eat insects, as vegans don’t eat animals. Regardless of which interpretation of what an animal means you could choose, all types of vegans consider insects as animals, so they should all avoid consuming them or exploiting them in any way they can, as the official definition of veganism is, “a philosophy and way of living which seeks to exclude — as far as is possible and practicable — all forms of exploitation of, and cruelty to, animals for food, clothing or any other purpose; and by extension, promotes the development and use of animal-free alternatives for the benefit of animals, humans and the environment. In dietary terms, it denotes the practice of dispensing with all products derived wholly or partly from animals.”

This means that proper vegans who follow this definition (also known as ethical vegans) should avoid consuming any insects (bees, wasps, flies, butterflies, beetles, true bugs, grasshoppers, crickets, cockroaches, dragonflies, moths, ants, termites, etc.) in any stage of development (eggs, larvae, chrysalis, juveniles, and adults), and anything they produce (honey, silk, wax, venom, etc.), for the same reasons vegans do not consume meat, dairy, or eggs.

This is one of the “non-negotiable” axioms of veganism. If you deliberately consume insects when you had the choice of not consuming them because you think they do not morally count as other animals do, you are in breach of both the second principle of veganism (the axiom of animal sentience that says all animals should be considered as sentient beings) and the third (the axiom of anti-speciesism that says that not discriminating against anyone is the right ethical way). Therefore, if you regularly and willingly breach such important vegan principles, you should not be using the term vegan to describe your identity, even if you eat lots of plants. 

Vegans don’t eat insects because vegans don’t eat animals. 

People Already Consider Insects as Food 

Man eating Bamboo Worms and Crickets By nicemyphoto via Shutterstock (1419341573)

Although the idea of factory farming insects to produce food may be relatively new, humanity has seen insects as food since the very beginning, even before we started exploring the African savannah several million years ago. All our great ape cousins, who also share our non-carnivore origin, are either folivores (leave eaters) or frugivores (fruit eaters), and although some still eat the occasional vertebrate (like chimpanzees do), all still eat insects as part of their diet (although in much smaller quantities that insectivore animals would do). Therefore, we should expect that we also did when we were still dwelling in the trees. 

Entomophagy (eating insects) is likely to have continued through the evolution of the early hominids. J. A. Ledger reported in 1971 that there is evidence that early humans in the south of Africa consumed the termite Trinervitermes trinervoides and the bee Apis mellifera (not just the honey, but the larvae too) in early 100,000 BCE. Many Indigenous human communities in Africa still eat insects today.

The Mofu people living at the border between Cameroon and Nigeria in the Mandara area eat various insects such as termites, grasshoppers, crickets, caterpillars, and beetles. They collect them from the wild or cultivate them in their homes. The Nganda people living in tropical forests in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) eat caterpillars, especially those of the genus Imbrasia. They collect them from the forest during the rainy season and dry them for preservation. The Bushmen or San people living in Namibia and South Africa eat various insects such as termites, ants, honeybees, locusts, and mopane worms. They collect them from the wild by digging, smoking, or trapping, and they consume them raw, roasted, or boiled as a source of food and water. The Zulu people living in KwaZulu-Natal province in South Africa eat termites and mopane worms. They cook them with salt, water, or maize meal and eat them as a delicacy or staple food. 

Not only in Africa we find this habit, but in other continents too. In Mexico, it was common during the Aztec rule, but the custom fell out of popularity due to the Spanish colonisation that brought chickens, pigs, and cows to replace insects and other animals. Now, there is some sort of revival, with some restaurants even organising bug festivals. Across Mexico City, in bars, markets, and restaurants you can find escamoles (ant eggs with a nutty flavour), chapulines (fried and seasoned grasshoppers), and gusanos de maguey (a moth’s caterpillar).

Thailand has always included deep-fried and salted insects in its diet, such as crispy crickets, grasshoppers, silkworms, and bamboo worms. In China, you can still find 178 different insects and arachnids served as food today. You can find scorpions, giant cicadas, locusts, and cricket skewered and fried for eating. One of the most common insects in China is the roasted silkworm chrysalis. Honey-flavoured ants, fried cockroaches and chocolate-covered mealworms are now finding their way onto plates across Australia, perhaps inspired by what Australian aboriginals have been eating for millennia. South Koreans have been using insect flour for some time now, made from crickets. A speciality of some regions outside of Tokyo in Japan is inago no tsukudani, locusts simmered in soy sauce and sugar or mirin. 

Entomophagy is practised regularly in over 150 countries in the world, and, unfortunately, its popularity is growing because some people consider it a more sustainable source of meat (by the way, eating an insect is eating meat, as you eat the flesh of the insect together with the rest of the insect’s body). 

Factory Farming Insects

Close-Up Of Insect Gryllus bimaculatus In Egg Carton By Sutthiwat Srikhrueadam via Shutterstock (1573233529)

There are over 2000 insect species that are regularly eaten by humans, of which most are mainly taken from the wild, and according to the European Food Safety Scientific Committee, nine insect species are currently farmed for food and feed. These include Mealworms (Tenebrio molitor) which is a species of beetle, Buffaloworms (Alphitobius diaperinus) which is also a beetle, Waxworms (family Pyralidae) which are moths, Cockroaches (Periplaneta americana), and several species of Crickets (such as Acheta domesticus or Teleogryllus occipitalis). The terms minilivestock or microstock are how insect farmers refer to their victims, in the same way the mammal farmers use livestock for theirs.

The factory farming of crickets and mealworms (to produce flour) has now become a growing industry in many countries. Its PR slogans suggest they can be the solution to world hunger and the climate crises. All sorts of products could now have this flour added to them, such as bread, protein bars, pasta, biscuits, chips, and cereals. For instance, in 2017, Finnish business Fazer launched Fazer Sirkkaleipä (Cricket Bread), containing flour produced from 70 crickets — so vegans, be careful, and never stop reading labels, as products that you assumed were vegan may no longer be, even in Europe. 

Crickets in factory farms are bred in captivity in overcrowded conditions (as it’s characteristic of factory farming), and about six weeks after being born, after they have reproduced, they will be killed by different methods. One of them would be freezing (cooling the crickets gradually until they enter a state of hibernation called diapause, and then freezing them until they die). Other methods of killing crickets include boiling, baking, or drowning them alive. Once they are killed, they are rinsed thoroughly to remove bacteria, and in some facilities are then separated into two groups: some are roasted in the oven, intended to be eaten whole, and others are placed into a food processing machine, in which they are ground into a fine powder from which the flour will be made. The numbers involved are staggering. A cricket farm in Canada killed about 50 million crickets a week in 2021, which is equivalent to about 2.6 billion crickets a year, but they were planning to triple production by now.

The Insect Industry is using everything they got to sell its products, including environmental claims.  the Guardian wrote an article in 2021 saying, “Did you know crickets emit less than 0.1% of the greenhouse gas emissions of cows to produce the same amount of protein?” Although most insects indeed emit less CO2 than cows and bulls (every food production emits less CO2 than farming Bovids, by the way) this is a bit of a misleading claim as the source is a 2010 study that looked directly at emissions from the animals themselves, as opposed to the emissions of the whole insect industry. But anyway, there is no doubt that plant agriculture emits much less than insect agriculture, so if concern for the environment is the drive of this new entomophagy boom, it makes no sense to switch from mammals to insects as switching to plants is much better and cheaper.

This horrible industry is not new. We should not forget that factory farming insects is a millenarian tradition. Although we now think about it in terms of food production, it started in China by farming moths to produce silk. The production of silk originated in Chinese Yangshao culture in the 4th millennium BCE. Silk cultivation spread to Japan around 300 BCE, and, by 522 BCE, the Byzantines managed to obtain silkworm eggs and were able to begin silkworm cultivation. Silk is not suitable for vegans as it is an animal product obtained from the cocoon of the mulberry silkworm (Bombyx mori), a type of domesticated moth created by selective breeding from the wild Bombyx mandarina, whose larva weave big cocoons during their pupal stage from a protein fibre they secrete from their saliva. To make a silk shirt about 1,000 moths are killed (often by boiling them alive). 

Insects have also been farmed to produce pigments and wax. Bees have been exploited for the honey and wax (and this is why vegans don’t consume honey), and red food that has been coloured by carmine, is not vegan-friendly either because this is a pigment that is made by boiling and grinding up cochineal beetles (carmine has also been used in textiles, lip glosses, pills and in paint to restore historical paintings.). The Indian Lac insects (Laccifer lacca) are also farmed for lacquer and resin, which is often found in products under the name shellac. 

If we count the bees exploited for their honey and wax, the silkworms for their silk, and all the other insects used for other purposes, insects are the number one victim of humanity in terms of individual animals exploited. We are talking about trillions of individuals exploited every year, and many more killed for being considered pests.

So, that hypothetical alien trying to save sentient life on Earth could well consider Homo sapiens as one of the main obstacles to deal with, for being the main threat to insect life.

Do Entovegans Exist?

Fried salty worms. Roasted mealworms on a wooden spoon. By Jiri Hera via Shutterstock (2145445311)

I haven’t met any, but it seems that they do. Entovegans make videos, record podcasts, give talks, and even have their own websites. One of these even talks about the Entovegan Philosophy and it defines an entovegan diet as follows: “a plant-based vegan diet boosted by Entomophagy (human consumption of insects and other arthropods). Essentially, it’s plants + insects, and is the ultimate sustainable superfood diet.”  So, it seems they also eat other arthropods, such as crustaceans and arachnids. 

This website claims that “properly farmed insects are the most sustainable natural form of human nutrition on earth,” which is obviously not true, as growing crops via regenerative veganic farming is not only more sustainable but is carbon negative while farming insects (who breathe out CO2 like all animals) is not.

It also claims, “the common criticisms of a standard vegan diet regarding a lack of vitamins and nutrients, can be met by an increase in the diet of edible insects which contain large amounts of B12, calcium, iron, zinc, are a complete protein, support a healthy gut micro-biome, and much more.” Although describing the vegan diet as lacking vitamins and nutrients is what carnist like to do, not people who define themselves as vegans, it is true that eating insects may provide B12 vitamins that otherwise vegans need to get by eating fortified food, supplements, or sea lentils (also known as duckweed), recently discovered to have bioavailable B12. However, it takes the same effort to supplement your diet with B12 than with insects, and nobody has to suffer if you choose the former (plus you will not be eating the dreaded cholesterol that insects foods also have, as cricket flour has 545 mg of Cholesterol per 100 gr, the high levels of saturated fats, and even heavy metals in some cases).

Finally, the entovegan website mentioned makes the most outrageous claim: “Science to date shows some insects lack a central nervous system, and don’t feel pain.” This is completely untrue, and as ridiculous as saying that some humans lack a central nervous system and don’t feel pain. We know all insects have a central nervous system (and we have known this for millennia as you could clearly see it in any insect dissection), and as far as whether they feel pain is concerned, there is plenty of scientific evidence that shows they do, and that they are sentient beings like us — as we will see in the next chapter.

Mic the Vegan, a famous Youtuber known for his expertise on the vegan diet, has one of his excellent videos dedicated to the subject of this article, and he has this to say about entovegans: “A term that I stumbled upon here when researching this topic is entovegan. In other words, saying bug vegan. And it was framed as sort of another term like pescatarian, but I kind of have a little bit of a problem with it, and that is when we apply the term vegan to things that are just really paradoxical and don’t actually have anything to do with people being vegan. They’re saying, ‘If you’re vegan-except-eating-bugs you can be an entovegan,’ the same way that somebody who is vegan-except-eating-fish is a pescatarian. You know they’re not a Pescavegan. We should just call them an entortarian or something.”

I could not agree more. Although people can, of course, choose whatever term they like to define themselves — and some people define themselves as entovegans — the bottom line is that these are not vegans in the same way that pescatarians would not be vegans even if they called themselves pescavegans, and beegans (who eat honey), veggans (who eat eggs), and ostrovegans (who eat oysters) are not really vegans either because they deliberately consume animal products when they can easily avoid them.   

Insects Are Sentient Beings 

A bumblebee on a summer flower By AK-Media via Shutterstock (526329823)

Mic the vegan summarises quite well what is the situation about sentience and insects. He says, “The claim that oyster eaters make is that, ‘oh, they don’t even have essential nervous system so don’t worry about it.’ I don’t want to eat oysters anyway, but in this case, insects do have a central nervous system, and their nervous system has been described as advanced, starting with their ability to sense. They even have some sensing abilities which are shocking and certainly stronger than our own.”

The high amount of evidence in support of the sentience of insects even surprised Mic the Vegan when he looked into it. In a 2020 scientific review titled “Can Insects Feel Pain? A Review of the Neural and Behavioural Evidence” by Gibbons et al., the researchers studied six different orders of insects and they used a sentient scale for pain to assess if they were sentient. They concluded that sentience could be found in all the insect orders they looked at. The order Diptera (mosquitoes and flies) and Blattodea (cockroaches) satisfied at least six out of eight of those sentience criteria, which according to the researchers is “constituting strong evidence for pain”, and the orders Coleoptera (beetles), and Lepidoptera (moths and butterflies) satisfied at least three to four out of eight, which they say is “substantial evidence for pain.” 

Regarding another study from 2022 about the nociception (ability to feel pain) of insects, Matilda Gibbons said to Newsweek,One hallmark of human pain perception is that it can be modulated by nerve signals from the brain… Soldiers are sometimes oblivious to serious injuries in the battlefield since the body’s own opiates suppress the nociceptive signal. You can also consciously ‘grit your teeth’ and bear the pain, in case such ‘heroic’ behaviour earns you a reward or prestige…We thus asked if the insect brain contains the nerve mechanisms that would make the experience of a pain-like perception plausible, rather than just basic nociception… The function of this dampening in nociception in humans is to reduce our pain in situations where feeling pain is unhelpful…Thus if insects also have this capacity, it is conceivable that insects have evolved a similar pathway to deal with feelings of pain.”

Every year there is more evidence not only of the sentience of insects but also that their intelligence is much more similar to ours than most people think. The article “Do Insects Feel Joy and Pain?” I mentioned at the beginning show many examples of this. For instance, Thomas Ings, now at Anglia Ruskin University in England, and Lars Chittka, the author of that article, performed an experiment in which they asked whether bumblebees could learn about predation threat from a robotic spider. They built a plastic spider model that would briefly trap a bumblebee between two sponges before releasing it. They observed that, after that experience, the bumblebees learned to avoid spider-infested flowers and scanned every flower before landing. They also showed signs of post-traumatic stress disorder, such as fleeing from imaginary threats. This clearly shows that bees are sentient, as sentience is the capacity to have positive and negative experiences by processing information from the senses with a nervous system, which can change the organism’s behaviour depending on whether the experience was negative or positive. 

Chittka and collaborators also developed a cognitive bias test for bees to evaluate their psychological welfare and emotionlike states. They trained one group of bees to associate the colour blue with a sugary reward and green with no reward, and another group to make the opposite association. They then presented the bees with a turquoise colour, an intermediate shade between blue and green, and found that bees who received a surprise sugar treat before seeing the turquoise colour approached it faster than those who did not, indicating an optimistic state of mind. They also found that this state was related to the neurotransmitter dopamine (the one that makes humans addicted to video games and social media) and made the bees more resilient toward aversive stimuli.

These researchers also trained bumblebees to roll tiny balls to a goal area to obtain a nectar reward and found that some bees rolled the balls around even when no sugar reward was being offered. They suspected that this might be a form of play behaviour, which is a sign of intelligence. In another experiment (which I found unethical, by the way) the researchers gave bees a choice between heated and nonheated artificial flowers to test their capacity to feel pain. They varied the rewards given for visiting the flowers, and they found that bees clearly avoided the heat when rewards for both flower types were equal, but they chose to land on them when the rewards at the heated flowers were high, indicating a trade-off between discomfort and reward. 

Other researchers have shown that insects can count, grasp concepts of sameness and difference, learn complex tasks by observing others, and know their body sizes. They have also shown that some species of wasps recognize their nest mates’ faces and infer the fighting strengths of other wasps, that ants rescue nest mates buried under rubble, that flies display attention and awareness of time, and that locusts can estimate rung distances and plan their steps on a ladder. 

Interestingly, various researchers have studied the effects of mind-altering substances such as nicotine and caffeine on bees and other insects. They found that many plants contain bitter substances such as nicotine and caffeine in their leaves to deter herbivores, but these substances are also found in low concentrations in some floral nectars. They discovered that pollinators actively seek out drugs such as nicotine and caffeine when given the choice and even self-medicate with nicotine when sick. Male fruit flies stressed by being deprived of mating opportunities prefer food containing alcohol (naturally present in fermenting fruit), and bees even show withdrawal symptoms when weaned off an alcohol-rich diet. 

All these behaviours are consistent with creatures who are sentient beings and have a mind that can be used to think, plan, play, learn, and even create “mind-bending” experiences that can be rewarding and addictive. How different are these minds from ours, really?

Insects Are My Friends

Insects from Burgess Park in London, UK (c)Jordi Casamitjana

I don’t expect that all ethical vegans would treat insects as I do, but for me, insects are not just other animals I should not consume, but they are truly my friends — I don’t know if they see me as a friend, but I hope some do. Maybe not a perfect friend, but one who tries to improve the relationship all the time. 

Not only I do not consume them or use any of the products extracted from them (such as honey, beeswax, silk, carmine, or shellac), but I go beyond what other vegans do to avoid hurting them. For instance, I don’t eat figs because natural figs require a special kind of micro wasp to reproduce, and the remaining of such wasps are often still found in many types of figs — as I would never be sure if the ones I get are of such types, I avoid them altogether.

I also avoid vegetables and fruits that are likely to have been produced using migratory beekeeping, in which honey bees are farmed by beekeepers and move around from field to field to pollinate some crops (which has a devastating effect on the local insects). Almonds produced in California often rely on such methods, and so are avocados. Therefore, unless I am certain of the origin of almonds and avocados, I also avoid them altogether. 

I also avoid some very shiny fruits, such as lemons, oranges, and apples, sold in supermarkets where they are likely to have been waxed using shellac. I stick to organic versions from street markets where I cannot see that unnatural shininess. 

When is Spring or summer and there are many insects around, I avoid taking cars or buses if I can, and I walk or take the underground train instead, as this will reduce the chances of me participating in the common insect crashes fast vehicles may incur every day (in winter it’s fine as no insects are flying around).

I try to eat veganic produce that was grown without hurting insects (I grow some of my vegs in my yard using this method) and if I cannot get it I get organic produce that would have been grown using fewer pesticides and therefore killing fewer insects. I am concerned with the accidental deaths of insects during crop production and harvesting, and I am still looking for kinder ways to eat and not settling with what I have now. 

I take care when I walk in the park or the countryside in Spring or Summer not to step on an insect, and if any lands on me, I carefully relocate them to a better location — I try to assess what are they looking for, such as shade, food, or water, and help them to find it.

If I see insects in peril, and this is not a situation where another animal is trying to eat them, I will do my best in helping them (for instance, I take to safety drowning insects or I give water to dehydrated ones). Even I may sometimes intervene in predator-prey situations if I can judge that the predator may be sufficiently fed (based on the concept of “ordeal involvement” I developed).

If insects enter my house, I will carefully escort them outside—there are empty glass jars scattered throughout to facilitate the process — unless they seem eager to hang out with me, which then I let them. When I had “infestations” of cockroaches in previous flats I lived in, I tried several methods to deal with them in the most humane way I could find, until I found one that worked and did not involve killing them.  

If a mosquito lands on me, and I am in Europe or another non-malaria region, after quickly checking that she is not from the genus Anopheles (I can tell by side, I am a zoologist after all) as that’s the species that may carry malaria, I let her sting me and leave with a bit of my blood (I know she just wants it to be able to reproduce, and it’s nothing personal).

I grow my vegetables in my yard both for me and the local wildlife, so if I see insects eating them, I am happy for them. I may carefully take several and move them to one plant, so they can eat that one and I can eat another one. I also leave small jars of water in the yard on hot days so they can drink — putting sticks in them so they can have access to it and not drown.

Above all, when I see insects in the wild doing what they normally do, and they appear to be content, that brings me joy. I often take photos of them (I have learnt how to behave so as not to disturb them) and I share them with the world so they can begin to appreciate them as I do.

I do what friends do. I would not hurt them on purpose, I would help them when they need me, and I would enjoy their company.

Insects are not my food, and they should never be the food of vegans who care about sentient life.

All ethical vegans should be kind to insects and befriend some if they can.

It’s a rewarding experience.

“Originally from Catalonia, but resident in the UK for several decades, Jordi is a vegan zoologist and author, who has been involved in different aspects of animal protection for many years. In addition to scientific research, he has worked mostly as an undercover investigator, animal welfare consultant, and animal protection campaigner. He has been an ethical vegan since 2002, and in 2020 he secured the legal protection of all ethical vegans in Great Britain from discrimination in a landmark employment tribunal case that was discussed all over the world. He is also the author of the book, ‘Ethical Vegan: a personal and political journey to change the world’.