I was reading about something called phytic acid
today, and the recent discussion about soaking beans in the Black beans won't soften
thread came to mind.
This topic stretches the limits of my 4th grade education, but it seems phytic acid reduces the nutrition that critters with one stomach can get out of things like seeds and grains and beans. Soaking is one way to decrease this "anti-nutrient."
You can follow this argument to the lunatic fringes where red meat fanatics rail against radical vegans, but I think I'll just go back to soaking my beans. It might do more than just shorten the cooking time.