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Insect meat is produced when a cook butchers any insectoid at a butcher table or butcher spot. The amount obtained depends on the Meat Amount of the butchered insectoid, as well as the Butchery Efficiency of the butcher and a number of other factors.
The base yield for each insectoid is as follows:
Excluding its mood effects, insect meat acts as any other meat. It can be used alone to produce simple or nutrient paste meals, or combined with other ingredients to produce fine, lavish meals, pemmican and kibble.
Colonists consider insect meat disgusting, and will suffer the "Ate insect meat" bad thought (-6 mood) when eaten raw, and the "Ate cooked insect meat" bad thought (-3 mood) when eating meals made with it. This stacks additively with mood effects from meals, both positive and negative, and with the "ate raw food" (-7 mood) debuff when eaten raw. Thus, eating raw insect meat results in a net -13, while eating a lavish meal made from it results in a net +9. The mood penalties from insect meat are negated and replaced with a +6 if the eating pawn has an ideoligion with the "Insect Meat: Loved" precept. This mood buff also stacks, as above.
By default, cooks will not cook with insect meat, but you can make them do so by allowing insect meat in cooking bills.
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Infestations can result in massive amounts of insect meat being available to the colony, and while initially unattractive, this resource can actually be of significant value.
Cooking it into a fine meal (+5 mood) offsets the mood penalty for a total of +2 mood, making cooking insect meat worthwhile if a colony's food supplies are low or before a colony can afford to switch to regular fine meals. Alternatively, if the colony has easy access to large supplies of insect meat, cooking it into a lavish meal (+12 mood) will give a total of +9 mood while requiring the same amount of vegetables as basic a simple meal made from vegetable, and stacking with the fine meal buff. The resulting meal will also be suitable for nobles. Alternatively, carnivore fine and lavish meals can use only the insect meat and turn unused insect meat into essentially free mood buffs with no other input, though at the cost of nutritional efficiency.
Conversely, the mood penalty from insect meat can be combined with the penalty from nutrient paste when trying to lower a pawn's mood, such as when trying to trigger a tortured artist, create an anti-raider psychic beacon , or convert a pawn via Crisis of belief.
If the "Insect Meat: Loved" precept is used, then the benefits of insect meat expand. With the right set up, colonies can be fed exclusively on insect meat and be ecstatic about it, making it a very powerful tool to control colony mood.