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Pulses: good for the health of people, animals and planet

News Section Icon Published 2/10/2023

An up close picture of organic legumes

Today (10 February) on World Pulses Day, experts speaking at our Extinction or Regeneration conference this May are encouraging people to adopt diets packed with pulses to benefit the health of people, animals and our planet – and save money.

As recession hits many parts of the world and the cost of living and food skyrocket, consumers are tightening their purse strings. Research undertaken by Aarhus University in Denmark in December found that Europeans were changing their eating habits in response to economic pressures, with nearly 40% saying they are buying less red meat and a third reducing their fish and poultry purchases.

Healthy source of protein

Scientists and experts speaking at our ground-breaking food systems conference in London this May are advising that pulses are not only highly nutritious and cheap, they are also a healthy source of protein and sustainable. Shifting diets away from reliance on meat, fish and dairy, and towards proteins like lentils, chickpeas and beans would have benefits for health, animals and our planet.

World Pulses Day, a UN International Day to raise awareness of the nutritional benefits of pulses, also known as legumes. It aims to encourage more people to incorporate them into their diets, for nutritional value, food security and positive environmental impact.

Dietary shift to be explored at Extinction or Regeneration conference

The conference, taking place on May 11 and 12 in London and online, will bring together experts from around the world to share solutions in support of food system transformation. The event will offer individuals, organisations, companies and other experts the opportunity to present solutions across environmental, public health, food business, food policy, conservation, finance and animal welfare concerns.

Shireen Kassam, visiting Professor in plant-based nutrition, University of Winchester, who is speaking at the conference, comments: “Pulses are a great addition to the diet. Not only are they associated with a lower risk of heart disease, type 2 diabetes and a healthier weight, they have shown to improve both health span and lifespan. The majority of people are not eating nearly enough to reap the benefits, yet they can be incorporated into all traditional and cultural diet patterns and are a great source of healthy nutrients such as protein and fibre.”

Vandana Shiva, activist, academic and campaigner, also speaking, adds: “The Indian diet is based on pulses, as they are nutritious and affordable. They also have a wider environmental benefit; the harvesting of pulses leaves behind nitrogen-rich crop residues that help maintain and increase soil fertility – a far more sustainable process than using synthetic fertilisers. This also helps tackle food insecurity. I would encourage people to grow pulses for sustainability and to eat pulses for their health. I’m looking forward to speaking at the Extinction or Regeneration conference and playing a part in developing a policy roadmap towards a global food system that benefits the health of people, animals and our planet.”

Read more about the Extinction or Regeneration conference.


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