Well, if you are looking for a reason to avoid pulses, I am sure this will do. Beans are certainly, surprisingly, toxic. They are also surprisingly easy to make safe.
First, it’s mostly kidney and Lima beans that are toxic. Second, the toxins will make you moderately ill, at worst, unless you are eating your weight in beans. Third, it is laughably easy to make these beans safe.
Lima beans (also called butter beans when fresh) have linamarin in them, a compound that could potentially make you ill because of it’s similarity to cyanide. This toxin is broken up by cooking the beans, so the rule is to never eat raw Lima beans.
A different toxin, phytohaemagglutinin, a lectin, is also present in many beans. Red kidney beans are the worst culprit, however, and care should be given when making them. Again, cooking them will destroy the toxin. A hard boil for 10 minutes is enough to make the beans safe, but the FDA says 30 minutes just to be sure. The problem comes in slow cookers, which may not heat the beans high enough with low cooking temps. Pressure cookers, the range, and some slow cookers will be fine.
Again, these toxins are not fatal, and are easy to get rid of. And even if you do get sick, odds are it will last only a few hours. However, if you want to follow a ‘raw’ diet, pulses may not be your food of choice.
In addition, a small percentage of the population will potentially die from fava (broad) beans. These will only hurt you if you have a medical illness, but it is yet another way this incredibly healthy food can kill us.
So, if you really want to be a bummer at events and avoid eating beans at all costs, there you go. For the rest of us, let’s forge on!
(Lima beans are capitalized because they are named after Lima, Peru, where they have been cultivated for 6000+ years)