Climate Change – Legumes are the answer!

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This Friday, the 15th of March, there will be an international strike in all the big cities for Climate Change. The event, called Fridays for Future, started thanks to the Swedish teen Greta Thunberg last summer when she started to strike from school and sit in front of the Swedish parliament every day. Her wish was and still is that the government focuses more resources and attention to the issues surrounding climate change and that better policies must be put forward in order to accomplish the Paris Climate Agreement goals (maintain the global temperature rise below 2 degrees this century). She even spoke at the Un Climate Change COP24 last December, and has become famous globally for her courageous actions. Today, many cities have a Fridays For Future group and each Friday strike for a couple hours in order to get the attention from the local institutions.
Even in the small town of Bra where I live – founding town of the Slow Food movement, and home to many international students from UNISG – we organized our own Fridays for Future group and did a first march last week. The event was a great success and many locals joined too. We had speeches from students, the mayor office, Slow food office and Carlo Petrini himself (founder of Slow Food). Below are some pictures of the march.

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When environmentalists or climatologists talk about climate change and greenhouse emissions, we often hear about transport, heating, petrol etc but very few mention agriculture and the food we eat. Agriculture accounts for one-quarter of the total emissions, which is more than all the transport’s emissions in the world. And out of this 24% livestock production accounts for two-thirds of the emissions. It’s not only the cow’s manure that releases tons of gases, but you also have to take into account the resources needed to produce that piece of meat – feed, land, water.  Conversion of plants into animal feed is largely inefficient: as little as 3 % of plant calories in feed are converted into calories in beef for example. If these plants (rice, pea, soy, wheat etc) were given to the human directly for consumption, the cycle would be cut down in land, water, energy, and time needed.

Below are some infographics and data collected by IPCC, FAO, Greenpeace.
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So what can the average person do in the world today to help mitigate the effects on the planet’s climate?
Other than the common and know facts such as stay informed, keep your heating down, take public transportation, use renewable energy and consume less plastic, You can make a huge impact by chosing what goes on your plate! Reducing your meat consumption and switching to a more plant based diet is a no-brainer if you are interested in the future of the planet.

According to the recent Eat-lancet report that came out in January 2019 (a study made with world leading scientists that defines a healthy and sustainable diet for the future of the planet and ourselves), we should be consuming at least 125 gr (4,4 oz) of cooked beans every day. That is about half a tin.
There are so many recipes on the web today, so getting inspiration and help is not a problem anymore.

Last night I made this White Bean salad for a dinner party. Everyone enjoyed it so much, and asked me for the recipe. Feedback and support from others is really important for me, it gives me the strength to speak up and makes me realize often that things I take for granted aren’t such mainstream as I’d think. For example making a simple legume salad that won’t taste bland and satisfy many. So get creative and start adding legumes to your daily diet. Everything you do makes a difference. Each bite counts, from trying a plant-based recipe for the first time, to eating less or no meat every day. Together, with hundreds of thousands around the world, we will make meaningful change to the food we eat and the impact it has on the environment.

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·INGREDIENTS·
→ 400 gr dry white beans (Cannellini) or 3 tins of cooked beans
→ 1 bay leaf (optional)
→ 1 onion, chopped
→ 1 bunch of curly kale, chopped
→ about 100 gr of sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and chopped
→ about 100 gr of olives, pitted and chopped
→ chives and parsley, minced
→ 1/2 lemon
→ extra virgin olive oil
→ salt & pepper

· If using dry beans, cover them with water and soak overnight or for at least 12 hours.
Rinse them, put them in a big pot with the bay leaf, cover with water and bring to a boil. Remove the excess foam that will create at the beginning, lower the heat and cook for an hour or so, until the beans are well done. You can salt them at the end. Drain and set aside.
· Chop the onion and sauté with some oil, salt and pepper for 10 minutes stirring frequently. Chop the kale and add it to the onions, cover and turn the heat off. This way the kale will remain raw but slightly wilted.
· In a big bowl combine the beans, the kale/onion, the tomatoes and olives, and the chives and parsley. Add the juice of half a lemon and some olive oil.
Taste and adjust in salt and pepper.

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