“There needs to be a clear strategy of education in schools and all public bodies to stress the health benefits of pulses, food origins and to encourage healthy eating choices,” advocates Roger Vickers, chief executive of PGRO (Processors and Growers Research Organisation).
“All agree that the western diet must change to tackle the obesity crisis and lower the burden on the health services caused by unhealthy consumption.
“A dietary change to include a greater proportion of vegetable protein in the form of pulses and pulse-derived ingredients has enormous potential benefits to society. For example, healthy pulse-based snacks could replace existing high-calorie snacks.
“Policies in health and education to raise public awareness of the benefits of eating pulses are essential. Minor changes to diet to include pulses could deliver a significant benefit – but these changes need to be adopted by the UK population.
“Investment in pulse processing and ingredient development in the UK food industry would accelerate the realisation of these dietary benefits. This would serve to ensure the development of a market that at present is extremely small and largely reliant upon imports of processed ingredients.
“The procurement policy of schools and, indeed, public bodies such as the NHS, prisons, the armed services and could begin the education process by leading the way with the provision of tasty, healthy diets that include legumes.
“As a prime example, using the national curriculum to inform children about the origins and health benefits of different food groups would help to educate the population with the knowledge of what they consume and encourage healthy eating choices.”