Switching my diet to more plant-based proteins has been more affordable and easier to track down at the store. Here's why you should make the switch too.

Jessica Ball, M.S., R.D.
May 03, 2020
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It's been just a little bit tricky to navigate the grocery store lately. There seems to be endless news about potential food shortages and food being wasted. Plus, it's hard to know what feels "safe" when it comes to food in the middle of a pandemic. To help simplify my life and cooking, I have been leaning in to a plant-based diet more than I normally would and it has helped me save money, get what I need and have healthy meals. Instead of ground beef, I have used ground mushroom for burgers. Also, now I am pretty sure my pasta will not feel complete without buttery beans and greens. Here are the reasons going more plant-based in quarantine.

Save money

Vegan- and vegetarian-friendly proteins are some of the best protein choices for those on a budget (here are the top 10 vegetarian proteins). Beans and lentils are super cheap and nutritious, and eggs are one of the most affordable proteins per serving in the grocery store. Legumes come in many different flavors and sizes, making them super versatile. From White Bean & Avocado Toast to Black Bean-Quinoa Buddha Bowl, you can enjoy them for any meal of the day. They even make delicious snacks. Don't believe it? Try out Roasted Buffalo Chickpeas. Especially during times like these where many are experiencing financial hardship from widespread business closures, this is one easy swap—meat to plant protein—that can save you money at the store.

Meat may be less available

Don't get me wrong, it is hard to find a lot of things at the grocery store these days, plant-based or not. But vegetarian foods seem to be more consistently stocked than certain kinds of meat or poultry. In fact, some are worrying about a meat shortage in the US as a result of widespread closures of restaurants and food service establishments.

Some meat-processing plants, for companies like Tyson Foods and Cargill, have closed due to COVID-19 outbreaks. It's doubtful there will be long-term meat shortages, but meat may be harder to find for a time.

At least 16 meat processing plants closed, permanently or temporarily, due to concerns about outbreaks. On April 28th, the president signed an order to keep meat plants open for the security of our nation's food supply chain. However, many organizations in the food and workers' rights space have their reservations on how this will impact workers' safety. Additionally, concerns around outbreaks in meat processing plants may cause consumers to be wary of meat in the grocery store. Opting for plant-based foods can help you more easily find quality protein.

Pictured Recipe: Cauliflower Parmesan

Plants are good for you

On a more positive note, a plant-based diet is proven to be more health promoting than a diet high in red meat and processed meats. You can absolutely still enjoy moderate amounts of red meat and be healthy, but many of us are eating too much of it. There are several health benefits of focusing on plant foods, from weight loss to protection from chronic diseases like diabetes and heart disease.

Bottom Line

Be flexible with your diet, especially right now. Making sure you get enough food and nourish your body should not be an additional stressor. Eating more plant-based is something I am doing right now for a variety of reasons, most of which are related to saving money. Plant-based foods may be more available at your grocery store and may be safer right now, as well. For more, check out our guide on how to start a more plant-based or flexitarian diet.