The United Nations General Assembly voted to add “World Pulses Day” to the official UN calendar of awareness raising holidays and commemorations. So, World Pulses Day will be commemorated for the first time at the United Nations on February 10.

Pulses is a catch-all phrase for legumes, like lentils, beans and peas. They provide an excellent source of protein and also boast a number of environmental benefits. They are good for both people and the planet — so, it would make sense that the United Nations would champion pulses.

Pulses are good for you

With non-communicable diseases like hypertension and heart disease on the rise in many parts of the world, pulses can offer a healthy source of  protein, particularly when compared to red meat. Pulses can also serve as a high fiber, low calorie alternative to cereals. A study from the National Institutes of Health finds that pulse consumption, “positively affects several other cardiovascular disease risk factors, such as blood pressure, platelet activity, and inflammation.” The study concludes, “including pulses in the diet is a healthy way to meet dietary recommendations and is associated with reduced risk of several chronic diseases. Long-term randomized controlled trials are needed to demonstrate the direct effects of pulses on these diseases.”

Pulses are good for the environment

Pulses have a number of environmental benefits. For one, they are a low carbon alternative to meats. A study published in the journal Science finds that “while meat and dairy provide just 18% of calories and 37% of protein, it uses the vast majority – 83% – of farmland and produces 60% of agriculture’s greenhouse gas emissions.”

Beyond viewing pulses as an meat-alternative, they also have positive externalities for the farming sector as a whole. Pulses have a unique ability to help maintain optimal nitrogen levels in soils, which helps boost crop yields. The FAO says that  On average, cereals grown after pulses yield 1.5 tonnes more per hectare than those not preceded by pulses, which is equal to the effect of 100 kilograms of nitrogen fertilizer.” The UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization recognizes as an environmentally sustainable natural fertilizer.

Foodies Are Championing This Day

World Pulses Day 2019 was created through a vote of the United Nations General Assembly last year. There are many of these sorts of commemorative days throughout the UN calendar, and the addition of this particular day comes after the General Assembly declared 2016 “The International Year of Pulses.”

Foodies of all stripes are celebrating. A leading think tank for food, Food Bank, is encouraging people to eat falafel and hummus on February 10th. Meanwhile, the Vegetarian news website VegNews is spreading the word. The International Pulses Confederation has a clearing house of resources for individuals and organizations who want to get involved in the first-ever World Pulses Day. And it’s clear that this idea is already gaining attention around the UN.

So, cook yourself some pulses today. You’d be doing yourself and your planet a favor.

Recipes here.

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