Using insect protein in processed foods could alter consumer’s meat-eating habits, according to a study conducted at Institute for Environmental Studies, VU University, Amsterdam.

Last year, UK’s Food Safety Agency had indicated that insect protein – either purified or partially purified – could become a commercially viable solution if a sustainable source could be found, reported

According to estimates, about 2.5 billion people across the world have diets that include insects.

The study, titled ‘Can we cut out the meat of the dish? Constructing consumer-oriented pathways towards meat substitution’, also focused on combining lentils with meat in food pyramid tables, along with insect proteins.

The report, published in Appetite journal, proposes four policy-relevant pathways for a change towards a plant-based diet.

The first is increasing change towards more health-conscious vegetarian meals, such as choosing fish, eggs and cheese, as an intermediate shift from regular meat eating.

The second is combining unfamiliar with existing foods, and the idea of consuming insects do not bother such consumers since insects disappear as an ingredient in the processed food, the researchers said.

The third is decreasing portion size of meat, while the fourth is a practice-oriented change towards vegetarian meals.

The study observed consumer meat consumption along with attitudes towards various substitution options.

The report states that consumer’s involvement level in food may be separated into taste-oriented and reflection-oriented motivational goals.

Taste orientation includes the cultivation of an adventurous taste where consumers might get attracted to plant-based meals and insects, while reflection-oriented consumers look at the wider implications of food choices such as health, naturalness, weight control and ethical considerations.

According to the researchers, further research is expected to address how these four pathways can be supported by policymakers in industry and government to boost changes in a sustainable direction.