How swapping meat for beans helps protect the environment
Monday, June 19, 2017, 5:15 - Eating beans is not only good for health, but it’s also good for the environment, according to a study published in the journal Climate Change. The study shows changing a diet from beef to beans could help the U.S. meet its emissions target by 2020.
Cows emit methane due to its digestive process known as enteric fermentation. Most of the methane is released through belching and only a small percentage is produced through flatulence. The massive amount of greenhouse gas produced by cows are comparable to the pollution produced by cars.
Beans provide similar nutrients to the human body as beef, without the increased risk of developing Type 2 diabetes, stroke and colorectal cancer. Meanwhile, growing pulses is greatly beneficial to the environment as they are able to directly draw nitrogen from the atmosphere and convert it into nutrients. This means a reduction in the amount of fossil fuels used to produce nitrogen to create these nutrients. It is also much more water-efficient to grow pulses than to raise cattle.
The lead author of the study, Helen Harwatt, says she is positive that Americans maybe willing to give up their juicy steaks for environmental reasons.
“Beef consumption is already declining in the United States, so these types of food shifts are just going with this trend and speeding it up due to the added urgency of climate change mitigation,” she says.
Thumbnail image source: Phys.org/Credit: Loma Linda University Adventist Health Sciences Center