Meat Methadone

Tips and Tricks to Get You off of the good stuff

All over social media, I have seen people bemoan the meat shortages. And I understand. Kind of. What was once a staple of day to day life is now becoming more expensive and scarce, and that is unsettling at best. In a time of great instability, people want to take comfort in the fact that their diet is the one constant in their lives, that they could buy a steak at any time, with a consistent quality and price. Unfortunately, right now is a unique moment. We are at war with an invisible enemy that lives all around us. And with wartime comes shortages. Now is not the time to lament what delicious hot dogs and steaks you could have had. 

I am a vegetarian. Don’t worry, I come here in peace, I don’t have a finger-wagging lecture for you about morality or the environment. I am here as a comrade in a war that we can not see the end of. I hope it ends soon and you can go back to eating your bacon wrapped hot dogs. I genuinely do. But until that day, you might need some metaphorical methadone to help you cope with a reduced meat, or meat-free diet.

First tip, black beans are an essential. When I became a vegetarian, I did not like black beans at all. I would not eat them. Eventually, they began to grow on me. Black beans can be a great source of protein, and also has plenty of iron that would traditionally be found in red meats. Also in this crazy world we now live in, black beans are an easily accessible pantry good that can be found canned, frozen, or dry. They can go into a quesadilla, taco, or be served plain.

While it is less readily available now, than it was in the pre-corona age, spinach is also useful to get in some extra iron. It can go into smoothies, be served in salad form, or used in pasta dishes. My favorite way to eat spinach is blended in with a basil pesto and used as a pasta sauce. It makes the overall flavor richer, and gives you the extra nutrient boost. If you were feeling really crazy you could make a salad, with black beans on top.

Tofu is not meat. Anyone who tells you that it tastes the same as meat, or that you will like it just as much is lying to you. It is its own food. If you don’t compare it to meat, you can appreciate it for what it is, a good source of protein that nicely absorbs the flavors of the things that you cook it in. If prepared well, I like mine baked in the oven with a honey sriracha sauce, it can be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside, and has a comparable level of protein to its meat equivalent. 

I am, of course, saving the two classics for last. Best for last as they say, are mac-n-cheese and the peanut butter and jelly sandwich. I feel like a very young child in confessing that these are my two favorite foods–I might as well have said dino chicken nuggets–but they are two quintessential comfort foods that need to be in everybody’s arsenal in these trying times.

I know that it might be hard for this aspect of our lives to change. Food is a core component of culture after all. But in the face of the challenges we face, adaptability is the most valuable trait, if we are to win this war.