Beef, it’s what’s for dinner. Or is it? With at least twenty-two beef, pork, and poultry processing plants closed or functioning at reduced capacity in the United States due to Coronavirus outbreaks, the once catchy advertising slogan might not apply to life in the time of Covid-19.
Americans paid 4.3 percent more for meats, poultry, fish, and eggs in April, the largest one-month spike in 46 years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.. The meat shortage mixed with skyrocketing grocery prices and over 36 million total jobless claims in the last eight weeks has many people wondering about their protein supply, and more specifically how they’ll get more and what it’ll cost them.
A Consumer Reports survey confirmed that Americans are finding a reduced selection of meat at the grocery store with almost half of respondents saying, “Since the outbreak of the Coronavirus crisis, they weren’t able to find the beef, pork, or poultry they wanted while shopping.”
As alarming as this report might seem, there’s no reason for healthy adults to panic, at least not yet, according to the Time article, “You Asked: What Happens If I Don’t Eat Enough Protein?” Douglas Paddon-Jones, a professor at the University of Texas Medical Branch who has studied the interplay of protein and old age, said: “There’s this knee-jerk assumption that a lot will go wrong really quickly, but the immediate answer is probably not a lot will happen.”
That said, protein is vital to a healthy diet, and not getting enough of it can lead to muscle loss, weak hair and nails, or immune issues, according to “What Eating the *Right* Amount of Protein Every Day Actually Looks Like.” In that same Shape.com article, Dr. Cynthia Sass, R.D., a performance nutritionist based in New York and Los Angeles explained, “You’re continually using protein to support hormones, enzymes, immune cells, hair, skin, muscle, and other protein tissues. On top of that, protein is needed to recover from the stress of training.”
The good news is that there are many alternative sources of protein other than beef, pork, and poultry. Ones that might even be healthier for you according to an expert in a Consumer Reports “Coping With the Meat Shortage” article.
“As a general rule, the scientific evidence shows that eating meat is actually deleterious to health,” says Dana Hunnes Ph.D., M.P.H., R.D., adjunct assistant professor at the UCLA Fielding School of Public Health in Los Angeles. “Many studies show that whole-food, plant-based diets promote health and lower the risk for chronic diseases—diabetes, heart disease, kidney disease, and cancers.”
So, what are protein options that can replace meat? Don’t worry, we have you covered with superfoods, powders, and other solid sources of protein for breakfast, lunch, dinner, and even dessert. After all, if the Coronavirus has taught us anything, it’s that we’re resilient banana bread baking, Tiger King watching, Zoom chatting people with the ability to adapt and adjust.
While eggs are a superfood full of high quality protein, and easy to make, the price of eggs just shot up 16.1 percent, according to a CNN article, “Grocery prices are soaring. Here’s what’s getting more expensive.” That doesn’t mean you still can’t start your day off right with a healthy dose of protein.
Since banana bread is all the rage right now, you can take those ripe bananas on your counter that you’ve been saving for your banana bread and make Banana Bread Protein Waffles using Jennifer Meyering’s recipe instead. It takes twenty minutes all-in with prep and cooking time and uses eight ingredients
Banana Bread Protein Waffle Ingredients
- 1 cup of oat flour
- ½ cup MuscleTech NitroTech 100% Whey Gold French Vanilla Crème
- ½ cup coconut flour
- ½ tsp ground cinnamon
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk
- 1 cup banana (very ripe)
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
If you’re looking for more of a grab-and-go item, Greek yogurt is a superfood that packs twice the protein than regular yogurt, according to a “12 superfoods you should be eating” article from Harvard Health Publishing. It also offers much-needed calcium and Vitamin D, and you can add another superfood, fresh blueberries, to it for powerful antioxidants.
Oatmeal is another superfood breakfast option that’s high in fiber and can be mixed with other superfoods like dark chocolate to create Chocolate Protein Powder Oatmeal, like this recipe from Brooklyn Farm Girl.
Just about the only meat item that’s easy on your wallet these days is ham, which is down 1.7 percent if you’re craving a ham sandwich (even though the price of bread did increase 1.5 percent). Another lunch option, with 46 grams of protein and a ten-minute prep time is The Infamous Protein Powder Pizza.
Ingredients For The Infamous Protein Powder Pizza
- 3 tbsp tomato puree
- 3 mushrooms, sliced
- ½ ball buffalo mozzarella
- 1 whole egg
- 1 egg white
- 1 scoop MuscleTech Pure Series 100% Whey Protein
- 1 ½ cups oats
- 1 tbsp olive oil
We’ve covered the jump in meat prices, which makes it less than ideal for summer grilling – chicken shooting up 5.8 percent, pork increasing 3 percent, fresh fish 4.2 percent, and hot dogs 5.7 percent higher. But that doesn’t mean you can’t take the cover off your BBQ and ignite the flame anyway, making the Minimalist Baker’s Easy Grillable Veggie Burgers.
Ingredients For The Easy Grillable Veggie Burgers
- 1 cup cooked brown rice
- 1 cup raw walnuts (or substitute bread crumbs)
- ½ tbsp avocado oil (plus more for cooking)
- ½ medium white onion (finely diced)
- 1 tbsp each chili powder, cumin powder, and smoked paprika
- ½ tsp each sea salt and black pepper (plus more for coating burgers)
- 1 tbsp coconut sugar (or substitute organic brown sugar)
- 1 ½ cups cooked black beans (rinsed, drained, and patted dry)
- 1/3 cup panko bread crumbs
- 3-4 tbsp vegan BBQ sauce
To satisfy your sweet tooth, and incorporate both protein and a superfood, you can bake these Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Muffins from Healthy Helper, which uses two scoops of chocolate peanut butter whey protein powder.
Ingredients For Chocolate Peanut Butter Protein Muffins
- 2 scoops NitroTech 100% Iso Whey Peanut Butter Cookie Protein
- ½ cup peanut flour
- 2 tbsp coconut flour
- ¼ cup non-dairy milk
- ½ cup liquid egg whites
- ¼ tsp cinnamon
- ¼ tsp vanilla bean powder
- 1 tsp baking powder
So, even with meat shortages and sharp increases in grocery prices in the United States due to Covid-19, there are still many creative ways to incorporate protein into your diet, even without beef, poultry, and chicken, or drastically more expensive options like eggs. One of the easiest ways is simply to add protein powder to whatever it is you’re cooking. There are lots of recipes out there, and if you want a quick cheat sheet, here are “41 Sneaky Ways to Add Protein Powder Into Every Meal” from Greatist.