I just bought a pound of split peas for $1.19. Most dried beans, at least around here, are under $1.50/lb. The package says there are 10 servings in that one pound. When was the last time we could buy meat for $1.19 a pound, and how many people does one pound of meat serve? (If it's boneless meat, the answer is 3 to 4 people)
I am not a vegetarian, but I like a relatively healthy diet and a wide variety of different foods. So many people, when they think protein, think of just meat or poultry. It is much healthier to cut back on one's consumption of meat and get at least some of one's protein from dried beans or other vegetarian sources. Not only is it better for your health, but it is better for the environment. Meat production is incredibly wasteful in terms of land use and water use.
When many people hear the word beans, they think of refried beans and ham and bean soup. The truth is there is a whole world of delicious recipes for beans/lentils other than those two (I admit I like refried beans, but hate ham and bean soup). There is also a great variety of beans---lentils (red, yellow, brown, green), split peas (yellow and green), lima beans, chick peas (white and red), black beans, limas, pintos, black, navy, canary beans, pink beans....the list goes on and on. We would all be doing our own health a favor by learning some new ways to enjoy them.