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On average, Americans consume about half a pound of meat each day.
But with meat shortages predicted as a result of plant shutdowns due to COVID-19, you may be looking for alternative sources of protein for some of your meals.
In a recent New York Times full-page ad, Tyson Foods warned that the country’s food supply chain was breaking. A Time magazine article also pointed to statistics from an April 27, 2020 USDA report showing that beef production was down more than 25 percent from the previous year and pork production decreased by 15 percent.
Though farms have plenty of livestock raised for meat production, meat packing plants have slowed operations, with some shutting down temporarily, to deal with COVID-19 outbreaks among plant workers. Experts warn shoppers should expect to see meat price increases and a continued decrease in supply or variety of meat selections available on store shelves.
That may leave some wondering what options they have for protein at mealtime.
Though the amount of protein needed varies by person (based on factors like age, weight and activity level), the American Heart Association (AHA) recommends 10 to 35 percent of your daily calories come from protein.
For the average adult female, that works out to about 46 grams of protein and 56 grams for the average adult male. To put that in perspective, a 3-ounce piece of meat (the size of a deck of cards) has about 21 grams of protein, according to the AHA.
If you find yourself looking for alternative sources for protein because meat is in short supply, or just for a healthier diet change, Edward-Elmhurst Health outpatient dietitian Mary Gardner, RD, LDN, offers a few options:
Shelf-stable options like peanut butter or canned tuna or salmon can be a good source of protein.
While including some meatless options in your weekly menu planning may help during a meat shortage, going meatless also offers some health benefits. As most meats are high in cholesterol and saturated fats and processed meats are high in sodium, adapting a plant-based diet can decrease the risk of heart disease, stroke, obesity, hypertension, elevated cholesterol and Type 2 diabetes, Gardner says.
If your weekly menu options must include meat, try shopping at your local grocer earlier in the day for a better selection or talk to your local butcher about what might be in stock during the week.
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