They provide an excellent source of plant-based protein but are still cast aside as too modest a meal: Pulses encompass varieties of beans and peas usually sold dried as well as chickpeas, lentils, lupines and many more.
Numbers by the FAO show that most pulses per capita are consumed in African countries, with Niger, Rwanda and Tanzania eating some of the highest daily rations. While the consumption of a high level of pulses often goes together with poverty or a lack of access to resources, regional preferences also play a role. Cuba was among the biggest consumers at 184 calories from pulses per day and capita – about the same as consumption in Haiti.
Brazilians’ love for traditional bean dish feijoada showed in the ranking that has every Brazilian consuming 125 kcal of pulses per day. Mexicans consumed 106 kcal per capita while Indians, who often favor vegetarian fare in the form of lentil or chickpea dishes – consumed 147 kcal a day.
While rich nations in Europe as well as the U.S. ate far fewer pulses, the United Arab Emirates are an outlier with a consumption of more than 219 kcal from pulses per day. A closer look at the types of pulses eaten in the country shows why. Emirati cuisine features many different types of pulses – from lentil and bean dishes to broad beans and peas as well as chickpeas used in hummus. The combination of them leads to the UAE’s high consumption level.
After Bosnia and Albania, Italy was the country with the highest consumption in Europe. Southern European and Balkan nations tended to eat more pulses per capita than their counterparts in Northern in Western Europe. The U.S. showed a slightly elevated level of consumption in this context, potentially driven by the popularity of Mexican food in the country. The UK also consumed more than their direct neighbours. Yet – curiously – dried peas and not beans dominated consumption.