A new study shows the potential impact of cutting back on just one source of meat.

By Clara Olshansky
Updated August 03, 2017
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The environmental benefits of a more vegetarian-focused diet have been touted for some time. And while the omnivorous among us have probably wondered whether we could actually give up our beloved meat, a new study might be just the encouragement we've been looking for. If everyone in the United States made just one food substitution, switching from beef to beans, we'd be well on our way to cutting greenhouse gas emissions by some pretty staggering numbers.

First, some (probably moot) history: Back in 2009, the Obama administration proposed a greenhouse gas emissions target "in the range of 17 percent below 2005 levels" by the year 2020. Taking that benchmark into consideration, without even going fully vegetarian, the U.S. could get as much as 46-74% of the reductions we'd need to meet that goal with this one substitution, according to the study which was conducted by researchers from Loma Linda University, Bard College, Oregon State University, and Harvard University. As one of the researchers, Helen Harwatt, told the Atlantic, "I think there’s genuinely a lack of awareness about how much impact this sort of change can have."

Not sure where to begin? Well, this black bean burger substitute is a pretty good place to start. Plus, once you can make a black bean patty, it's just a small jump to making black bean tacos and black bean sloppy joes. Or, if black bean burgers aren't your taste, you can try one of these bean-based recipes.

Honestly, it's probably not just the Earth that's gonna reap the health benefits of us swapping out beef for beans. For one thing, we're putting ourselves at risk for all kinds of diseases when we eat beef: diabetes, heart disease, and more. Plus, there are all the health benefits of beans, including but not limited to being high in fiber and antioxidants.

[h/t The Atlantic]