For the last 20 years, insects have been touted as the next big thing in food, because they have a lot of protein and would be reasonable to produce at scale. And people who don't understand agriculture think land only suitable for animal husbandry could magically support amber waves of grain if we stopped eating steers.

But are insects too icky? Perhaps to people who have never seen animals slaughtered but have killed an insect. However, people who claim to know a lot about animal welfare and food, vegetarians, are okay with insects. Zoologically, they are correct, insects are not animals the way they think of animals any more than sponges are, though all share the broad Animalia kingdom.

A small uncontrolled survey (online) from the University of Eastern Finland asked about consumption of insects and if they might be included as part of a diet. In total 567 people participated; 73% were omnivores, 22% vegetarians and 5% vegans.

Credit: Vilma Lehtovaara

Vegans may think insects are still life but plants are not, so they held the most rigid negative attitudes. Obviously it was only two dozen people, but they were significantly against eating insects even if the cost was reasonable, they were safe, etc. The survey did not ask if they'd eat insects if it would prevent an emissions-induced train wreck for the planet but it would be safe to assume their vegan identity trumps everything else and eating insects is morally wrong.

Vegetarians, however, only regarded animals as animals. They didn't regard insects as animals any more than plants are. They had higher positive attitudes toward insects than even people who ate a normal human diet.