If one eats insects as part of their diet, can it be considered vegetarian?

  • What if I don't realize I'm eating insects, because the eggs and larvae are extremely small and hidden in the fruit I eat?
    – Shog9
    Jan 31 '17 at 19:45
  • 2
    The answer is obviously no, since insects are animals. Are you actually asking whether it is ethical to eat them?
    – Turion
    Jan 31 '17 at 19:48

It depends on whether you consider insects animals or not.

If you are a vegan/vegetarian and you don't want to eat anything in the biological kingdom Animalia, you can't eat insects.

Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Arthropoda
(unranked): Ectognatha
Class: Insecta

(from Wikipedia)

Many people have the attitude "if something has to die for me to eat it, I don't want to eat it", so they say no to insects also.

However, since insects don't feel pain the same way other animals do, some people are perfectly fine with eating them.

It's really comes down to what you consider an animal to be, and whether your stance is not to eat animals or not to eat things that don't like being eaten. (i.e. plants don't know and therefore don't care about being eaten)

  • 6
    if something has to die for me to eat it, I don't want to eat it implies fruitarianism.
    – gerrit
    Jan 31 '17 at 19:51
  • 2
    @gerrit which is a subset of vegan/vegetarianism IMO.
    – Riker
    Jan 31 '17 at 19:51
  • 1
    Is taxonomic membership necessarily relevant here? I think most ethical vegans/vegetarians care more about sentience (it just so happens that that correlates with being in Animalia 99% of the time).
    – user116
    Feb 1 '17 at 0:50
  • 3
    If you mean to say that only humans are sentient, that's incorrect. Most animals are capable of conscious states just like humans. The Cambridge Declaration on Consciousness spelled this out fairly explicitely. This article summarises it fairly well. Also see the wikipedia page on animal consciousness.
    – user116
    Feb 1 '17 at 1:13
  • 1
    A purely semantic, or let's say literal approach towards vegetarianism isn't helpful. Someone who kills an ant is literally a killer, but we wouldn't refer to this person as a killer.
    – henning
    Apr 20 '17 at 16:51

The only honest answers are "it's up to you" and "for what purpose?" In short, you can call yourself whatever you want.

  • If you're designing a survey to track lifestyle by diet, you might consider lumping in insect-eaters with vegetarians if you feel they have more in common there than they do with meat eaters.
  • Call yourself a vegan if you want to draw attention to ethical choices you have made regarding your food that are restrictive against meat. Or if it's just easier to explain than, "insects are delicious." Do not worry about the vegan police :)

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