This text was originally published in SvD Perfect Guide.
Did you know that reducing meat consumption by switching to alternatives such as beans, peas and lentils, directly influences greenhouse gas emissions and significantly decreases our impact? According to a study published in the journal, Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, our intake of important nutrients would also improve, while simultaneously freeing large areas of agricultural land to be used for other purposes.
There is a group of researchers at SLU, LNU and JIBS(three Swedish universities) who have studied a scenario in which meat consumption in Sweden is reduced by 50% and replaced with locally-grown legumes (peas, beans and lentils). In the scenario, the objective was to reduce consumption of imported meats first in order to retain local milk and beef production within Sweden, and thereafter an approximate reduction of pork and chicken by 30% .
The study shows that the legumes would increase our intake of fiber and folate, which most of us today have difficulty getting enough of. At the same time, the population as a whole would maintain the same intake of both energy, protein, fat, vitamin B12, zinc and iron. Sounds pretty good, right!
To cover the growing need for legumes we need to grow more, we also need to expand the number of varieties of peas, beans and lentils grown. Experts estimate that such an increase is possible, and additionally, that the diversification of farming systems would give way to many environmental benefits. If the scenario is to become reality, investments in infrastructure are also required, as well as increased interest in legumes from more consumers.
That last part there we can all help with today. May we suggest that you than with good conscience try the following recipe:
Easy pea-sy pesto
2 big handfuls of basil
½ cup pumpkin seeds
1 garlic clove
½ cup cold-pressed olive oil
1 teaspoon apple cider vinegar
2 ½ cups of green peas
In a food processor blend the basil, pumpkin seeds, garlic clove, olive oil and apple cider vinegar. Then add the peas and blend to a pesto like consistency. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper.