As mentioned in an earlier piece, many Americans are beginning to experience meat supply shortages in their local grocery stores and marketplaces, due to workers in processing facilities falling ill with COVID-19. This leaves consumers with a choice: Either to weather the impending inconsistencies of the meat supply chain or to make changes to their diet altogether. While we won’t explicitly advocate for any one type of diet, some studies have shown that plant-based diets tend to be healthier due to their nutritional diversity.

With the meat supply chain taking a hit, would it be such a bad thing if you ate less meat? If your answer to the previous question is yes then we may be able to help, as a variety of plants and vegetables can be sources of protein as well. To assist you on this journey, we have put together a list of five plants and vegetables to keep an eye out for.

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Black Beans

Photographed by Danielle Franchi

Like many other varieties of beans, black beans are touted by some as being nutritionally rich, serving as a concentrated source of fiber, folate, magnesium, iron, and protein. As far as the protein content of black beans, the USDA says that they are incredibly rich, with a half-cup accounting for up to 5 grams of protein. The other great thing about black beans is that they are easy to store. As mentioned in another piece, beans are usually best purchased in canned form, as that tends to circumvent the amount of time spent soaking them while cooking. As a result, beans are one of the easiest foods to stockpile. (via Everyday Health)

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Green Peas

In a similar fashion to beans, Green Peas are also a rich plant-based source of protein, with approximately 9 grams of it per cooked cup. It should also be mentioned that Green Peas are rich in other nutrients as well, accounting for more than 25% of your daily fiber, thiamine, folate, manganese, as well as vitamins A, C & K per serving. (via HealthLine)

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Broccoli

Much like its cruciferous counterparts, broccoli is widely known for its host of culinary applications and nutritional benefits. When it comes to the popular vegetable’s protein content, around 1 cup of it can provide up to 2.6 grams of protein. On top of its high protein content, broccoli is also a great source of manganese, folate, and vitamins C & K. (via Medical News Today)

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Spinach

With 30% of its calories accounting for protein, spinach has a 1:1 ratio of cups to grams of protein content, making it a great addition to a salad. For those that make salads a regular fixture in their meal plans, a spinach-based salad can include up to 1.5 grams of protein per serving—not including other vegetables. Additionally, spinach has a high number of carotenoids, vitamin C, vitamin K, and folic acid, making it a great source for nutrients. (via iFoodReal).

Alfalfa Sprouts

Along with being a reliable source of folate, iron, magnesium, zinc, and vitamins C & K, alfalfa sprouts are also rich in protein, with it accounting for a whopping 42% of its calories. Additionally, studies have shown that alfalfa sprouts may be connected to lowering cholesterol levels, as well as decreasing inflammation. (via Medical News Today)

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In closing, these are just five of the many different plant-based foods that you can find to supplement or replace, your meat-based options for protein. Honorary mentions include Asparagus, Collard Greens, Brussel Sprouts, Cauliflower, Green Peas, Quinoa, and of course, Nuts! For more information on protein-rich plants and vegetables, we invite you to check out this nifty list on HealthLine.