30 Days of Bugs – Student Goes on Insect Diet for a Whole Month

We’ve heard people going on all sorts of crazy diets, but this one is a first – an American student recently went a 30-day bug fest! Throughout  the month of February, Alabama student Camren Brantley-Rios ate insect-laced meals three times a day.

The 21-year-old, who documented his bug-eating experience on a blog called ‘30 Days of Bugs’, believes that traditional meats such as pork and beef are unsustainable as sources of protein. He considers insects to be the diet of the future, so he’s experimenting with creepy crawly ingredients to make delicious dishes.

There was a time when Camren himself was repulsed by the idea of consuming insects. But now that he’s actually done it, he says it hasn’t been too difficult to get used to. “I’m mainly sticking to three species,” he said. “Mealworms, waxworms and crickets. Those are definitely the bulk of my diet. But I’m trying here and there to incorporate things a little bit more exotic.”


Photo: 30 Days of Bugs

Some of Camren’s standard meals include scrambled eggs with waxworms, and bug-burgers with cheese and creole crickets. “For dinner, I had mealworm fried rice,” he told BBC.com. “It was pretty good. I seasoned the mealworms with soy sauce and threw them in.”

“I had a bit of trouble with the mealworms,” he revealed. “They were still squirming around.” But once he managed to cook them, he was pleasantly surprised by the taste. “It wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be. It was nutty, a little buttery and kind of reminded me of popcorn,” he said.


Photo: 30 Days of Bugs

Sometimes Camren gets adventurous, like this one time when he tried to include orange-spotted cockroaches into his meal. He actually cried when he was preparing them, but he insists that they were surprisingly good once cooked. “You take off the legs, the wings, and the pronotum – the shell that’s covering the head. I just sauteed them with different herbs, mushrooms and onions. It was a little bit tangy. It wasn’t weird at all.”

But not all his dishes have been winners. He once tried making a dinner of silkworm pupae, which admittedly left a bad aftertaste. “Silkworm pupae wasn’t my favorite by any means,” he said. “They stank.”


Photo: 30 Days of Bugs

Despite the occasional bad experiences, Camren pretty much loves his insect-based diet. He has even managed to convince his mother to join him for a few meals. “My mom had some chocolate covered crickets and stuff like that. She’s been great about it,” he said.

According to Audrey Maretzki, a professor of food science and nutrition at Pennsylvania State University, insects are a “high in protein and high in calories. They’ve got other trace minerals. It makes them a desirable part of the diet.” Jason Dombroskie, collection manager at the Cornell University Insect Selection and the coordinator for the insect diagnostic lab, said he wants projects like ‘30 Days of Bugs’ to encourage more people to try out insect-based meals.


Camren said that his goal is to prove that anyone can incorporate insects into their diet – even broke college students. “There are over a thousand edible insects with unique flavors and in infinite number of ways to prepare them,” he said. “Why not try something new?” He also said that an insect-based diet is more environmentally friendly, compared to other meats.