Yay for Lentils! How Lentils Fuel Your Body and the World

When fires and hurricanes rage across the country and temperatures soar, climate change is on many people’s minds. Animal agriculture is a significant source of greenhouse gasses that contribute to the warming of our planet1. That’s why reducing the amount of meat we eat is an actionable step that almost everyone can take to help reduce their carbon footprint. This is where legumes and lentils come into play, nourishing both our bodies and our relationship with the planet we live on.

Written by Becca Blumberg, MS, RDN
Edited by Pavlína Marek

Plant-forward Diets

While some people opt to give up all animal products and become vegans, there are many other options to adopt a more plant-forward approach to your eating.

  • Ovo-lacto vegetarians continue to incorporate dairy and eggs.
  • Pescatarians also include fish.
  • A semi-vegetarian eats no red meat. (Beef and lamb have much higher greenhouse gas emissions than other meats or plant-based alternatives.2)
  • More and more popular is the flexitarian lifestyle. This means you incorporate more plants into your diet whenever possible but avoid any strict rules on what is and is not acceptable.

Whatever you decide is right for you, it is easier than you might think to reduce meat and still have satisfying, tasty meals!

Why Lentils?

If you decide to reduce the amount of meat you consume, legume plants will not only help you keep your diet rich but they’ll also add nitrogen to the soil that they are grown in, reducing the need for carbon-based fertilizer when crops are rotated correctly3. As an added bonus, lentils, a type of legume, require little to no irrigation.

For those who are plant-curious and want to include some meatless meals, lentils are an amazing option! This pulse (the edible seed of a legume plant) has a meaty bite without an overpowering flavor. They are iron-rich, helping to boost stores of this oxygen-carrying mineral. Folate and vitamin B1 also help enhance red blood cell production. Lentils are also rich in protein, making them a great option for recovery after a run. Add in their high fiber content and you have the start of a filling recovery meal.

Lentils are quick and convenient. They cook up easily, much like pasta. You can also find canned lentils (next to canned beans) or precooked and precooked lentils refrigerated in the produce department.

You can use lentils in meat sauce, tacos, or any other recipe that calls for ground beef. If you aren’t ready to completely cut out the meat, try mixing lentils with your ground beef to reduce the amount of red meat that you’re consuming.

Lentils are also delicious in soups and stews or chilled and tossed into salads. Look for some delicious lentil recipes coming soon!

About Becca

Becca Bumberg is a registered dietitian-nutritionist (RDN) based in Fort Collins, CO. She has a Masters degree in Human Nutrition from Colorado State University and completed a dietetic internship in the Northern Colorado area focused on wellness and lifestyle medicine and is a certified intuitive eating counselor. She’s also a personal trainer and RRCA Level 1 Running Coach. She’s passionate about helping people achieve their endurance goals and seeing the ripple effect that this can create for them.

If you have any questions, are looking for general advice, or just want a nutritionist to have your back, check Becca out at https://www.facebook.com/Ripple.Nutrition or rippleenutrition.wixsite.com/ripplenutrition or reach out to her @ripple.nutrition on Facebook or at beccablumberg@gmail.com.

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