Rising Meat Prices are Forcing Americans Toward Vegetarian Meals
If you eat meat, there's a good chance your eating habits have somewhat changed during this pandemic. Food prices have been going up over the past few weeks and animal products have seen the biggest increase. "Meat, poultry, fish, and eggs went up by 4.3 percent from March to April", according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics says is the biggest increase in food prices in almost 50 years. A recent poll discovered that 33 percent of Americans are preparing more meatless meals as a result of higher prices and limited options at the store.
As someone who eats meat occasionally, I know how difficult it can be to come up with meat free recipes. Meat is undeniably convenient, adding loads of flavor and volume to meals, but I've learned over the years that beans, lentils, eggs, nuts, and soy-based alternatives are similarly useful and delicious. It just takes some practice, planning, and a bit more imagination to use them.
With many struggling to adjust to a new pandemic diet, I want to share some easy and delicious vegetarian recipes for quick weeknight meals.
- Vegetarian pad thai: Although it traditionally has meat or seafood in it, you can make a fabulous vegetarian pad thai with crispy fried tofu and egg. You won't even notice the absence of meat.
- Black bean burgers: If you have a can or two of black beans in the pantry, plus a few additions, you can mix up a batch of delicious patties that fry up in a pan and can be eaten like a regular burger – on a bun with sliced tomato, onion, and whatever condiments you like.
- Bean burritos: Soy ground meat is a great beef substitute. It adds chewiness and body to bean-based fillings for burritos. You can use any beans you have – black, pinto, chickpeas, kidney – and fry with onions and spices (chipotles in adobo sauce, if possible) before adding the soy. Top with pickled red onions, cheese, and sour cream.
- Hearty grain salads: These are a great summery dish, endlessly flexible based on the ingredients you have. Cook quinoa, brown rice, bulgur, couscous, barley, etc. and let cool on a tray. Mix in pre-cooked vegetables, toasted nuts, seeds, minced herbs, and vinaigrette. Top with feta, goat cheese, or grilled halloumi.
- Falafel: If you have a food processor, homemade falafel is pretty easy to make. You blitz pre-soaked chickpeas with spices, then form into balls for frying. You can bypass part of this process by buying falafel mixes in the Middle Eastern section of the grocery store, and they're simple and delicious, too. Serve in a pita with salad and tahini sauce.