Sixteen protein-packed veggie dishes to get you through any meat shortage

International eats, brought to you by beans, vegetables, and delicious, melty cheese.
Grilled vegetable skewers on a bed of lentils and beans

Grilled vegetable skewers bring the flavor when meat isn't on hand. Tessa Simpson/Unsplash

Hang on to your thighs, shoulders, and breasts: A chicken, pork, and beef shortage could be hitting your grocery store soon—and for good reason. From Waterloo, Iowa, to Wilkesboro, North Carolina, thousands of unprotected workers at meat-processing plants have come down with COVID-19. Some companies are shutting down their facilities in response; others are carrying on with operations in line with the president’s executive order. Either way, it makes the nation’s supply chain look unstable, though experts say that the effects shouldn’t linger for the long term.

That said, it doesn’t hurt to take stock of your grocery-shopping options and start adding other types of protein to your diet. It can be beneficial for your own health, and for the health of meat-plant workers and the planet. Bugs are one nutritious possibility (they’re the food of the future, we’re telling you), but you’ll probably need to log online to buy them. So, try expanding your palate with simple veggies, beans, and dairy products. Dress them up with new spices, cook them up with various textures, and keep an open mind as you fuse cuisines and tackle recipes you never knew were possible. We’ll give you a few Saveur-tested dishes to help you plan for the weeks ahead.

Tortilla Espanola

Tender eggs with olive oil-poached potatoes make this classic from Spain a filling breakfast or lunch item. And please, don’t skimp on the amino acids.

Eritrean spicy tomato salad

A staple from the Horn of Africa, this easy meal is a combination of a bread bowl and flavor-filled salad. Panera’s got nothing on it.


Stick the ingredients for this Punjabi bean dish in a pressure cooker or InstaPot and let it simmer into savory goodness.

Chinese garlic eggplant

Slightly fried and sweetened, this eggplant side can bring as much bite as you want it to. A wok is recommended, but a skillet could work, too.

Turkish poached eggs

Poached eggs atop garlic-and-dill-infused yogurt is a perfect dish to sop up with warm bread.

Grilled vegetable and barley salad

This grain bowl out of Egypt packs color and variety. Nuts, herbs, vegetables, and feta cheese tie the barley base together perfectly.

Quinoa veggie burger

We admit, veggie patties are hard to perfect. Combining quinoa with breadcrumbs and cannellini beans, though, gives you some of that firmness you desire while biting into a burger.

Pizza del papa

This squash-topped pizza originated in Naples and even got the pope’s blessing. Semolina (optional) will make the crust extra crispy.

Roasted sweet potato sandwich

Roast your sweet potatoes for this sandwich a day in advance to make lunch prep quicker. Greek yogurt works as a substitute for the sour-cream spread.

Palestinian spinach and chickpea stew

Served alongside rice or bread, this homey Palestinian stew is loaded with the good stuff. Grind your spices fresh if you really want to go all out.

Philippines braised greens

Look for tropical morning glory shoots at your local Asian market—or just switch in some spinach. This dish is all about the adobe sauce anyway.

Pasta primavera

This hearty entree is a basically a salad … with carbs … and heavy-cream sauce. But worry not, you’ll be getting at least four or five servings of vegetables in it.

Pappardelle with cauliflower and brown butter

The mustard is an interesting twist in this pasta dish. Stir it in to some brown butter, freshly scraped out of the pan, and combine with capers and parsely for a fine flourish.

Potato, spinach, and red pepper frittata

Once you’ve exhausted your egg frying, scrambling, boiling, and poaching skills, move onto a veggie-filled frittata. The steamed potatoes mean you won’t make to make home fries on the side.

Beet raita

Most any Indian feast feels incomplete without a yogurt followup. This alternative to the classic cucumber and tomato raita bring a pop of color to your meal as well.

Real-deal nachos

A comfort food if there ever was one, this recipe balances crunch with melted cheese and pickled jalapenos. Just be sure to top off every chip to stave off drama at the dinner table.