Beans & Legumes
When I first went vegan, one of the most frequent questions I found myself being asked was, “Where do you get your protein?” Beans and legumes are the bulk of the protein source for those eating plant diets. And believe it or not, many beans, including the ones listed on this page, have more, if not the same amount of protein that is found in animal meats. For example, 1 cup of mung beans has 49 grams of protein, while the same amount of chicken only has 38 grams. Beans and legumes are not only high in protein, but they are also packed with fiber. Fiber is a crucial nutrient for the body’s digestive system and also helps you retain satiation and fullness much faster. Because of their fiber-dense contents, you could be susceptible to bloating or gassiness when first introducing beans to their diets, so make sure to increase your intake gradually and drink plenty of water! Beans and legumes also make excellent sources for iron, phosphorous, B vitamins, and healthy fats (mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids). They also help stabilize blood sugar by reducing spikes after eating, making it extremely beneficial for managing diabetes and reducing the risk of heart disease by lowering LDL cholesterol.
Beans vs. Legumes: What's the Difference?
A legume is any plant that bears fruit that grows in pods, while a bean refers to a seed that can come from different varieties of plants. A legume is a large category that can be divided into subsections including beans, lentils, peas, and peanuts. So, all beans are legumes, but not all legumes are classified as beans.
By consuming more beans and legumes, you can contribute to the improvement of the environmental sustainability of cropping systems. Legumes release up to seven times less greenhouse gas per area compared to other crops, and can also sequester carbon in soils. Beans and legumes are also nitrogen-fixing crops, meaning they can produce their own nitrogen from the atmosphere, which in turn, reduces the need for chemical fertilizer that could be detrimental to the earth. The nitrogen-rich residue that these crops leave behind after being harvested, also aid in the growth of the new crops being planted in their place. This is especially crucial in drier environments where food security is a major obstacle. Since legumes can be dried and stored for long periods of time, they also aid in minimizing food waste!
Below is a list of the commonly used beans and legumes in my recipes: