A super-nutritious food that can massively reduce your carbon footprint
This action is another culinary one; it’s time to discover or rediscover the humble lentil.
From our environmental perspective, the big thing about lentils is the fact that by introducing them into our diets we can reduce carbon emissions very substantially. They are also cheap, nutritious, versatile, tasty, easy to produce, and come in a wide variety.
Try them: lentils are true superfoods. They live in the legume family (seeds of plants) and are great sources of fibre, protein, and other nutrients.
Carbon emissions and lentils
Lentils have a very low carbon footprint and require little water to grow. They also clean and fortify soil to make it easier to grow other crops.
Pulses generally play an important role for sustainability in other ways too. They are a crucial component of crop rotations and they require less fertiliser than other crops. A good crop rotation scheme includes a variety of crops grown in sequence, including cereals (wheat, barley, oats), oilseeds (canola, flax, sunflowers), and legumes (pulses).
Pulses like lentils have a positive impact on soil quality because they help fix nitrogen in the soil which contributes to higher yields in subsequent crop rotations.
Pulses also have a direct positive impact because they help feed soil microbes, which benefits soil health. Pulses have also been shown to produce greater amounts and different types of amino acids than non-legumes and the plant residues left after harvesting pulse crops have a different bio-chemical composition than other crop residues. This diversity in soil composition helps all crops to thrive and which offers greater protection against disease-causing bacteria and fungi.
Pulses also have a very low water footprint. For instance, the water footprints to produce a kilogram of beef is over 40 times higher than for a kilogram of pulses. Pulses have a lower carbon footprint in production than most animal sources of protein, one study for example showed that one kilogram of legume only emits one-nineteenth of the CO2 equivalent of beef.
It’s easy, just take a look at some recipes linked below and replace a beef meal with a healthy lentil meal; fantastic lentil curries are my favourite!
Reducing our carbon emissions from food production is crucial if we are to have any chance of managing global warming and climate change, and taking a fresh look our diet is the key to that.
Enjoy these links: