Cooking with alternative proteins

The goal of the Suscop project is to raise awareness about the impact of our eating habits on the environment and to train future cooks to work with alternative proteins. Therefore a teaching & training module is developed. Getting a better understanding of the reasons why eating habits should change and giving students tools to make attractive dishes with vegetal or animal source foods, like insects.

Da Vinci College (Netherlands)

In June, teachers from cooking departments of VET centres in the Netherlands, Finland and the UK met at the Leioa cooking school in Bilbao. The goal of this training event was to lay the theoretical foundation of the teaching and training module. Different presentations of the project were made, one was a talk offered by Joaquín Gómez Estaca specialist in nutrition of the CSIC (The Spanish National Research Council, this is a State Agency for scientific research and technological development).

Joaquín González Estaca made an interesting presentation entitled: “The potential of insects for food production” The world’s population will grow up to 10 billion people in 2100. This means sustainability problems associated with food production. We will need more energy, water and land and the resources are limited apart of the environmental cost. Mr Gonzalez Estaca also explained the different methods to assess the environmental impact of current human activities.

Lectures on the benefits of the vegetarian diet and more sustainable food systems:

  • Plenty of fiber
  • Plenty of minerals
  • Little of cholesterol

In the project’s website which is under construction, we will present the result of our work, an E-book with recipes and a module for teachers.


There are some controversy and difficulties in the use of insects as proteins. One of the big problems that one of the speakers tells us is that of neophobia. It is a difficult barrier to overcome because we feel disgusted, there are cultural barriers also when eating insects and finally, we do not know if all insects are edible or not. Studies have been conducted regarding the willingness we have to consume them or not, these being the results:

  • One out of five meat consumers claims to be ready to adopt insects.
  • Males are 2.17 times more likely than females to adopt insects.
  • Consumers who plan to reduce meat intake are 4.51 times more likely to adopt insects
  • It seems Northern Europeans are more adaptable to eat insects than Southern Europeans.

So there are many factors influencing our food choice. The question is: how to overcome the aversion to insect consumption?

  • People are often curious to taste, but sensory liking might not be enough, but it has to be attractive to watch
  • More positive attitude (lower disgust) reactions could be achieved by; developing insect-based products that are tasty
  • embedding them in positive gastronomic experiences
  • information is important for people to change their habits
  • Choice of recipes and the way in which dishes are presented; can strongly affect the feeling of discomfort. Important to invest in sensory, gastronomic aspects and advertising messages.


According to the IPCC 2018 report, the clinical change is inevitable, we hardly have time to react. Food production is a significant contributor to climate change. The total amounts of water in order to get animal proteins is really high and totally inefficient. Anyway, meat consumption has increased in recent years.

What can be done? Changes in food consumption; increase the consumption of vegetables, seasonal foods, organic and local food and Insects.


The current laws of the different European countries do not fully reflect the possibilities related to insects, add to this that in each country the provisions are different.

What insects can be eaten? Basic principles:

  • Farmed
  • Insects that have died naturally should not be used as a food
  • No part may be removed
  • Feed: plant-based products, gelatine, milk and egg products

What are the potential risks in food in general?

  • Microbiological risks;
  • Chemical risks; little is known
  • Allergens; current knowledge insufficient.

Faced with possible allergies, correct labelling is very important. It should be mandatory to include this in the label: Insects may cause allergic reactions. Cross-reactivity is possible if you are allergic to crustaceans and/ or dust mites.

The next step of the project will be a meeting in ROC Landstede in Harderwijk, The Netherlands. Here we will be working mainly in the kitchen, cooking the recipes we think that are healthy, environmentally friendly and TASTY.

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