Our carbon footprint matters more now than it has ever before and its importance will only continue to rise. The feeling that you can personally make a difference in this global warming crisis may seem minimal but every act counts. This food group will decrease your carbon footprint AND is super rich in protein and micronutrients that are essential to your health:
Common beans (kidney, lima, pinto, etc.), chickpeas, fava beans, dried peas, and lentils are all pulses, and they have an extraordinary range of health and environmental benefits.
How are pulses good for the environment?
Pulses reduce the use of fossil fuels, since they don’t require nitrogen fertilizers. (A main component of nitrogen fertilizer is natural gas — a fossil fuel.) With a unique ability to “fix” nitrogen from the atmosphere, pulses are able to directly draw nitrogen from the air and convert it into nutrients vital for plant growth. Growing pulses also makes soils more fertile, reducing the need for fertilizer.
Pulses are the most water-efficient source of protein-rich foods. It only takes43 gallons of water to grow a pound of pulses, compared to a whopping 1,857 gallons for beef! By the year 2030, demand for freshwater is expected to increase by more than 50 percent, and agriculture alone accounts for around 70 percent of freshwater use globally.
A crop’s resilience against the rising temperatures and droughts associated with climate change will become very important for continued food and nutrition security. While pulses are already relatively climate-hardy, scientists are working to make them even more tolerant to these extreme weather conditions.
Why should you start eating more of them?
Meat consumption per capita has more than doubled in the developing world since 1963, while pulse consumption has dropped by almost 50 percent over the same period.
As consumers, by swapping out meat for pulses a few times a week, we can substantially reduce our carbon footprint and enjoy health benefits like a reduced risk of heart disease. With virtually no fat, pulses are high in essential micronutrients such as iron, zinc, potassium, magnesium, and selenium, dietary fiber, and “good” carbohydrates. To top it all off, they’re a rich source of protein, with three times more than grains like wheat and rice.