Legumes as a sustainable source of protein in human diets

Richard D. Semba, Rebecca Ramsing, Nihaal Rahman, Klaus Kraemer, Martin W. Bloem

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Dietary protein production from animals is a major source of greenhouse gas emissions, water use, and deforestation. Legumes are a rich source of protein but currently comprise a minor part of most human diets. Worldwide, the average consumption of legumes and meat is 21 and 112 g/person/day, respectively. Legumes are part of traditional diets in most cultures, have low greenhouse gas and water footprints, enrich the soil through nitrogen fixation, are inexpensive, and comprise a sustainable source of protein. Challenges to increased legume usage include large fluctuations in crop yields and lower profitability compared with other crops. Greater investment in legume breeding and heightened consumer awareness may facilitate a future shift to legumes as a major source of dietary protein.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number100520
JournalGlobal Food Security
StatePublished - Mar 2021


  • Climate change
  • Diet
  • Essential amino acids
  • Greenhouse gas
  • Legume
  • Protein

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Food Science
  • Ecology
  • Safety, Risk, Reliability and Quality
  • Safety Research


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