What’s More Satisfying, Beans or Meat?

CC BY 2.0. Shpernik088

A new study looks at how legumes like beans and peas stack up against meat in satiating hunger.

To hear that widespread adoption of a vegetarian diet could cut food-related greenhouse gas emissions by 63 percent is one thing; but for the meat-loving, cutting out the carne is another. Yet as reported recently in The Guardian, in a mere 30 years, emissions related to agriculture and food production are likely to “account for about half of the world’s available “carbon budget” – the limited amount of carbon dioxide and its equivalents that can be poured into the atmosphere if we are to hold global warming to no more than 2C.” Which is to say that the more people who can eat less meat, the better.

Yet many a meat-eater laments that plant-based proteins don’t satisfy like their animal-based counterparts. And with that in mind, as well as questions about how the two effect weight loss, researchers from the University of Copenhagen's Department of Nutrition, Exercise and Sports decided to look at how legumes like beans and peas stack up against meat in satiating hunger.

What they found may come as a surprise to the meat-is-king crowd: In their study, beans and peas proved to be more satiating than pork and veal-based meals.

The study included 43 young men who were served three different meals in which patties – made of either beans/peas or veal/pork – were a main component. They found that when participants ate a protein-rich meal based on beans and peas, they consumed 12 percent fewer calories in their next meal than if they had eaten a meat-based meal.

"The protein-rich meal composed of legumes contained significantly more fiber than the protein-rich meal of pork and veal, which probably contributed to the increased feeling of satiety,” says lead researcher, Anne Raben.

"It is somewhat contrary to the widespread belief that one ought to consume a large amount of protein because it increases satiety more. Now, something suggests that one can eat a fiber-rich meal, with less protein, and achieve the same sensation of fullness. While more studies are needed for a definitive proof, it appears as if vegetable-based meals – particularly those based on beans and peas – both can serve as a long term basis for weight loss and as a sustainable eating habit," says Raben.

So that's what science says, what do you think?

What’s more satisfying, beans or meat?