Climate change may seem to many of us a challenge too daunting to tackle directly through our own actions. But there is one small change each of us can do to play our part – shifting our diets to be healthier and more environmentally sustainable.
The type of food we choose to eat makes up a big part of our personal carbon footprint. The meat and dairy that make up 22 percent of developed world diets are responsible for emitting large amounts of greenhouse gases, particularly methane and nitrous oxide. But there is a food group which is highly nutritious, rich in protein and essential micronutrients, with a tiny carbon footprint. Pulses.
An understated food group, pulses include common beans, chickpeas, faba bean, dried peas and lentils, and have an extraordinary range of health and environmental benefits.
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 atmosphere and convert it into nutrients vital for plant growth. Growing pulses makes soils fertile, reducing need of fertilizer for even for other crops.