The research will use surveys, workshops, interviews and focus groups to explore young people’s understandings and experiences of alternative proteins. The project also aims to provide resources for schools to help them deliver lessons on the environmental impact of what people put on their plates.
Dr Christopher Bear, based at Cardiff University’s School of Geography and Planning, said: “Young people’s voices are becoming increasingly prominent in discussions on environmental futures and animal welfare. Embodied in Greta Thunberg’s Fridays for Future movement, their highlighting of intensive livestock farming’s greenhouse gas emissions has been especially high-profile.
“But there is still little research on how these values translate into food consumption attitudes and practices among children. This research project is an opportunity for us to find out how young people of primary age envisage the role of edible insects and plant-based proteins in more sustainable and ethical food futures.”
Although the consumption of insects as food is relatively new to the UK, it is practiced by two billion people globally, particularly in Asia, Latin America and Africa. In the UK, the Food Standards Agency is currently assessing house crickets for human consumption.
Carl Evans, headteacher of Roch Community Primary School in Pembrokeshire, which is taking part in the project, added: “At the school we recognise the important connection between our local community, food production and wider global issues surrounding sustainable development.
“We know these issues are important to children, but also difficult to make sense of and can often be confusing for them. We welcome the opportunity to work with academics from Cardiff and UWE Bristol to explore these issues and support children in developing critical thinking around sustainable citizenship.”