Coinciding with Pope Francis’ environmental encyclical Laudato Si’, the United Nations declared 2016 as the International Year of Pulses. Pulses, consisting of dry peas, chickpeas, lentils and beans, have many benefits. The UN, along with many researchers, believe that if everyone pledges to consume pulses at least one day a week, then the world will notice a significant improvement in our environment.
On my own personal journey with pulses, things started out rough. I found myself very hesitant to take on such a challenge, however the benefits made me feel as though it was worth a shot.
I started out one morning by making myself a berry protein smoothie with pea protein in it. This recipe gave me the conviction to carry on with my pledge. It was actually really good and I found it gave me a great boost of energy before heading off to work for the day. I also tried lentil lasagna, chickpea quiche and even a mason jar salad for lunch one day. Not only did I enjoy trying out these new recipes, I also found myself feeling content with the change I was making to help the environment.
I found myself constantly thinking about how such a small change in my life could actually have an impact on the world around me.
The list of benefits associated with pulses is actually quite impressive. To begin with, these superfoods have an extreme nutrition value and are always in season because of their long shelf-life. Being great servings of iron, potassium, fibre, protein, folate and antioxidants, along with being sodium-, gluten- and cholesterol-free, gives these four foods a lasting impact on our bodies.
Pulses are one of the most cost-effective proteins around. They can be enjoyed throughout the world at an affordable price. Pulse crops are natural fertilizers, meaning they actually enrich the ground in which they grow and reduce the need for harmful chemicals. Capable of growing in some of the harshest environments, they also have one of the lowest carbon footprints of any food group. As if this was not enough, these crops also require little to no irrigation, conserving plenty of water.
Pope Francis says in Laudato Si’ that it is the little things, when done together, which turn into big victories. The simple things, turning the unnecessary lights off, using public transport or car-pooling, even changing your diet on a weekly basis.
Needless to say, the attention of the world’s population is desperately being grabbed by influential people all over the globe.
After my experience with pulses, I have decided to take the pledge as often as possible. The idea of making a difference in the world is enough motivation for me. With the UN declaring this the year of pulses, all of our contributions combined will surely have an impact on the world around us and the future which it holds.
“Education in environmental responsibility,” stated Pope Francis in Laudato Si’, “can encourage ways of acting which directly and significantly affect the world around us.”
The time has come for all of us to stand up against the destruction of our environment and join together in this simple task. It does not have to be a difficult one. From protein-enriched smoothies to peanut butter hummus and chickpea salad, the pulse pledge can certainly be rewarding in its versatility and in battling environmental disaster.
Remain hopeful throughout this mission. Pope Francis reminds us once again in Laudato Si’ that, “We are able to take an honest look at ourselves, to acknowledge our deep dissatisfaction, and to embark on new paths to authentic freedom.”
(Hall, 17, is a candidate for first-year social service work at Humber College in Toronto.)