Food and ecology – A Vaud start-up wants to replace beef with worms

Lowimpact Food has embarked on the production of alternative proteins through the breeding of insects.

Co-founders of Lowimpact Food, Haidar Hussain, Camille Wolf and Simon Meister want to develop an alternative protein source.

Co-founders of Lowimpact Food, Haidar Hussain, Camille Wolf and Simon Meister want to develop an alternative protein source.

Vanessa Cardoso / 24 HOURS

They are small, but strong. The worms that flourish in the room occupied by Lowimpact Food in the Impact Hub in Lausanne are able to transform calories into protein more efficiently than cattle.

“Out of 10 calories consumed, an ox will convert one to two in the form of protein, against five for a worm,” explains Simon Meister, biologist and young doctor in environmental science and engineering at EPFL.

The mealworms raised by the start-up are one of the three species of insects whose marketing for food purposes is authorized in Switzerland.  They are fed with spent grains, residue from brewing beer.

The mealworms raised by the start-up are one of the three species of insects whose marketing for food purposes is authorized in Switzerland. They are fed with spent grains, residue from brewing beer.

Vanessa Cardoso / 24 HOURS

If it takes a nice bundle of insects to reach the weight of a cow, the advantages of this breeding are numerous: “The equivalent in CO release2 is up to 100 times lower. They require less water and much less surface ”, specifies Camille Wolf, chemist and PhD in environmental science and engineering at EPFL. Their life cycle is shorter: it only takes twenty-three to twenty-four weeks for the individuals to reach maturity, compared to one to two years for an ox.

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