15 Cool Bean Recipes to Save the Earth

What if we told you one dietary change could help the US meet its (albeit modest) greenhouse-gas emission goals? Helen Harwatt, a researcher trained in environmental nutrition, and her colleagues have been investigating how to maximize the impacts of individuals. Along with a team of scientists from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University, she calculated what would happen if every American substituted beans for beef and the results were impressive. By their calculations, the US could still come close (somewhere between 46-74% of the reductions) to meeting President Obama’s 2020 greenhouse-gas emission goals — even if nothing else changed, including the rest of our diets.

This one change has an outsized impact because of the inefficient process required to raise beef: land is used to grow soybeans to feed to cows and the cows convert the beans to meat (at a caloric loss), all the while producing methane and grazing on former forest land. Almost a third of the land on Earth is used to produce meat and animal products — 33% of arable land to grow feed and 26% of the ice-free terrestrial surface for grazing. The researchers found that trading beef for beans would free up 42% of US cropland! 

Even if you don’t make a complete change to a vegan diet, making an effort in the switch from beef to beans can make a solid dent in your personal greenhouse-gas emissions — and produce health benefits as well. To celebrate this good news, we’ve gathered fifteen of our favorite (Gaia approved) bean recipes to help save the earth. 

Have your own favorite bean recipe? Share with us in the comments!