A new study by researchers at the University of Helsinki has concluded that replacing meat with beans has no effect on bone formation or amino acid intake in the men studied but was far better for the environment.
For six weeks, the researchers substituted a proportion of red and processed meat with legumes in the diets of one group of Finnish healthy men between 20 and 65 years, while another group ate 760 grams of meat per week, the average consumed in Finland. During the study period, participants were restricted from consuming other red or processed meats or legumes not provided through the research project. Calcium and vitamin D intake was also the same across both groups and well within prevailing dietary recommendations.
The study was published in the British Journal of Nutrition in July 2023 under the title, “Effects of partial replacement of red and processed meat with non-soya legumes on bone and mineral metabolism and amino acid intakes in BeanMan randomised clinical trial”.
Suvi T. Itkonen, lead author, and a researcher in the Department of Food and Nutrition at the University of Helsinki, said, “Reducing red meat consumption is extremely important in terms of environmental impact… increasing the consumption of legumes cultivated in Finland, such as peas and fava beans, is safe from the perspective of protein nutrition.”
Researchers from Portugal have concluded that growing more legumes for human consumption is a “cornerstone” of a sustainable food transition in Europe, as they can sequester carbon in the soil, lower emissions from agriculture as they release five to seven times less greenhouse gases than other crops, and improve soil fertility, reducing the need for external fertilisers (and therefore they are key for regenerative veganic agriculture that avoids manure as fertiliser).