SWNYbugs - by Patricia Murphy - New York office - +1 646 873 7565 A weightlifting teen who supplements his vegan diet with INSECTS and SCORPIONS and claims he has "never felt better".
Sam Broadbent, 18, classifies himself as an 'entovegan' and lives a vegan lifestyle boosted by the consumption of creepy crawlies such as grasshoppers, crickets and ants.
He radically changed his diet in October 2018 by cutting out meat and in January this year ditched all animal products - with the exception of insects.
Lunchtime chicken and cheese sandwiches were replaced by bowls of crickets swimming in lentils.
He also ditched his nightly pork chops in favour of crunchy grasshopper burritos.
Highschool student Sam, of Lewiston, Maine, USA, gulps down protein shakes made from crushed crickets and even grills scorpions on his barbecue as a special treat.
His interest in entomophagy - the practice of eating insects - began in 2015 when he helped his dad Bill Broadbent, 59, establish an online bug-supermarket called Entosense.
Sam said: "I used to eat meat twice a day, maybe chicken or turkey with pepper jack cheese in a sandwich for lunch and beef or pork for dinner with sweet potatoes.
"In 2015, I became aware of the idea of supplementing insects for animal products in the diet.
"Agriculture is hugely demanding on the environment and I watched a couple of PETA videos that were focused on the mass production of pigs, which turned my stomach.
"My dad and I did a lot of research and realized there was a market out there for insects.
"In 2015 he established an online supermarket which started doing really well.
"The more I learned about insects through my dad's business, the more I realized that I didn't need animal products in my diet.
"I cut out all meat in October and then in January I went completely vegan with the exception of insects of course.
At the beginning you are a little squeamish, but you get used to it.
"For breakfast I would have oatmeal with cricket powder, which has a nutty flavour, and a banana or some strawberries.
"For lunch I would usually eat a big bowl of lentils and a big bowl of crickets with broccoli and asparagus.
Crickets have a unique flavor which is not dissimilar to sunflower seeds.
"For dinner I try and incorporate insects too.
I have burritos with beans, rice, and chapulines, which are grasshoppers flavored with garlic and lemon.
"I use cricket powder [crushed up crickets] in a lot of my protein shakes.
Sometimes I have a cricket cookie or cricket protein bar as a treat.
"I sometimes use protein powder with other vegetables to make a sort of a meatball.
Sometimes I have scorpions but they are a little bit of a delicacy.
"They have a salty flavor and are delicious when barbecued or sautéed.
After doing this diet for most of the winter and spring, I feel better than ever." The teen said he tried to keep his unusual diet under wraps in the cafeteria, but word spread about his cricket-packed Tupperware.
Sam said: "I didn't go to school and start screaming from the rooftop that I eat insects.
But if people do realize it can cause a stir.
I try to be low key about it.
"There is always going to be a segment of the population that is put off by it.
Some people just don't want to even try.
But most people can see the reasoning behind it.
"My friend, he runs track, and he loves chapulines and crickets now." Sam discovered a passion for weight-lifting in 2017 but said his new lifestyle has helped him improve his performance in the gym.
The teen works out six nights a week and went from deadllifting 190lbs in October to 330lbs in June.
Sam added: "Fitness was another major motivator for me when deciding to take up this diet.
"I have really been able to push my weight training a lot father these past few months.
Insects are a wonderful source of protein." Sam's dad Bill Broadbent, who founded Entosense, said what started as a "fun project" has transformed into a global supermarket which now employees six staff members.
Bill sources his bugs from all over the world, including crickets from the USA, chapulines from Mexico, scorpions from China and black ants from South America.
Those looking to delve into insects can expect to pay $40 USD for a pound of crickets and chapulines but $280 per pound of black ants, which Bill describes as a delicacy with a citrus flavor.
Bill said: "We originally started the website for fun as a little project to see if there was an interest in bugs there and it just took off.
"My sister Susan was working in Conde Nast and she gave that up to pursue this full time.
"We started out so small and now we operate out of a 6,000 square foot barn in an old mill with six employees.
"We ship all over the world except Australia.
I eat bugs but I still have meat maybe twice a week.
"I'm 59 now so I'm more health conscious and insects are much lower in cholesterol and fat." Sam will attend the University of Montana in the fall to study paleontology and said he will have to load up his car with boxes of his favorite bugs to sustain his lifestyle.
Sam said: "We have researched and the college does not have a lot of vegan options.
"I will have to bring a good stock of insects or I will have to get my dad will have to ship me a ton.
It will all work out I'm sure.
"I see myself doing this for the rest of my life.
I don't see a reason to change." For more information on Sam's bug-based diet visit: https://www.entosense.com/ ENDS