As it turns out, there is something any one of us can do and it involves no marches on Washington or angry letters to elected officials. All we have to do is eat beans instead of beef.

That’s the conclusion of a team of researchers from Oregon State University, Bard College, and Loma Linda University. They say that if every American simply substituted beans for beef in their diet, the US could come close to meeting its 2020 greenhouse gas emission goals pledged by President Barack Obama in 2009. Even if nothing about our energy infrastructure or transportation system changed — and even if people kept eating chicken, pork, eggs, and cheese — this one dietary change could achieve somewhere between 46% and 74% of the reductions needed to meet the target.

Switching from beef to beans would open up 43% of US crop lands for other purposes. “The real beauty of this kind of thing is that climate impact doesn’t have to be policy driven,” says Harwatt.

“It can just be a positive, empowering thing for consumers to see that they can make a significant impact by doing something as simple as eating beans instead of beef.”

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