Friday, 10 October 2014
The burgers made their first appearance on Thursday at the VUB Brussels university. The 400 burgers on sale had all been snapped up by the end of lunchtime as students happily ordered an insect-burger costing the average price of the ‘menu du jour’. Students’ reactions were encouraging. One economics student described them as “a bit like a vegetarian burger, but still more like a real hamburger.”
The VUB bought the worm-meat burgers from the Dutch Limburg-based company Damhart. The beefburger substitutes are made from organic Buffalo worms (larvae of the shiny tenebrionid beetle), also used as bird and fish food.
Philippe Merckx, head chef at the VUB, has been looking into insect-based dishes for a few years now, but it was only last year that the AFSCA (Federal Agency for the Safety of the Food Chain) approved the sale of ten kinds of insects. “We are always on the lookout for sustainable alternatives to meat. Our vegetarian dishes only appeal to a section of our students, which is why we are constantly trying to innovate,” he said.
To produce the same amount of protein, insects require twelve times fewer nutrients than beef and half as many as chicken. Meat production also uses huge quantities of water compared to insect-meat burger production. Currently, 70% of land reserved for livestock goes towards actual meat production, which produces 20% of the world’s greenhouse gas emissions.