Beans, Beans, They're Good For The Planet

This one weird swap could save earth.

Image: Kenneth Leung

…even if nothing about our energy infrastructure or transportation system changed — and even if people kept eating chicken and pork and eggs and cheese — this one dietary change could achieve somewhere between 46 and 74 percent of the reductions needed to meet the target.

“I think there’s genuinely a lack of awareness about how much impact this sort of change can have,” Harwatt told me. There have been analyses in the past about the environmental impacts of veganism and vegetariansim, but this study is novel for the idea that a person’s dedication to the cause doesn’t have to be complete in order to matter. A relatively small, single-food substitution could be the most powerful change a person makes in terms of their lifetime environmental impact — more so than downsizing one’s car, or being vigilant about turning off light bulbs, and certainly more than quitting showering.

A team of scientists calculated what would happen if everyone in America substituted beans for beef and the results are guess what, human farts are a lot less toxic than cow farts! Well, that and cows are a very inefficient food sources—between feed and livestock grazing, they’re using up like a third of the land to produce not all that much meat (some of it “pus-filled”)! If instead we used that land for more crop space to produce a edible plant-things, we’d drastically reduce greenhouse gas emissions. Maybe it really is time for us all to get Instant Pots.