Two Austrian entrepreneurs have claimed that eating mealworms can help save the planet. Katharina Unger, 25, and Julia Kaisinger, 28, have developed a device to breed protein-rich grubs of the larval form of the mealworm beetle in home kitchens. Unger told AFP, “You freeze them and then you make them like any other type of meat. You can cook them, roast them, make them into burger patties and mix them into sauce for pasta.”

Unger said that insects are not only tasty, but also a more sustainable source of protein than traditional farmed livestock. She added that insects are vital to feeding the world’s growing population. The mealworms are also nutritious, containing the same amount of protein as beef, more vitamin B12 than eggs and more fibre than broccoli, according to Unger and Kaisinger’s firm, Livin Farms.

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation estimates that insects form part of the traditional diets of at least two billion people across the world, with more than 1,900 species reportedly being eaten worldwide. A 2013 report by the organisation noted the “huge potential” of insects, not only for feeding people but also livestock, although it cautioned more research was needed. According to AFP, Europe and North America even have a few insect restaurants, serving products such as salt-and-vinegar crickets and lollipops with scorpions.