Plant based proteins for a pandemic

Living through a pandemic has had me thinking a lot about our food system. Besides the inefficiency that comes with our food system, the classic American diet has turned into something that relies heavily on a fairly susceptible framework of cross-border shipping and mechanisms to churn out food that's either chocked full of preservatives to make it last or isn't shelf-stable and comes with a hight price tag. Meat recalls and shortages are a clear indicator of the serious problem that comes with depending so heavily on animal based protein in our diet as a society, and the whole situation has got me reflecting on what it means to create a stable local food system.

It's been interesting to live our plant-based life in the context of the food system's struggles during the COVID-19 pandemic. From a very simple perspective (food systems aside) plant based proteins are more shelf-stable. In this time where many of us dread a simple trip to the grocery store, depending on dried and canned legumes for protein along with other combinations of shelf-stable proteins has been relatively stress free. Depending on plant-based proteins has meant our freezer isn't crammed full with expensive meats and we are keeping ourselves well fed and nourished on a budget that allows us to do things like buy extra masks and the makings for non-toxic hand sanitizer.

If you're thinking about getting some shelf-stable plant based proteins on hand in your pantry I've decided to compile a list of the easiest plant-based proteins (that contain all 9 essential amino acids and are thus considered complete proteins) to store and their shelf life:

  • Quinoa - 2 to 3 years

  • Soy - dried 2-3 years

  • Buckwheat- 2-3 months if stored in fridge

  • Hemp Seeds- 14 months

  • Chia seed- 2-4 years

  • Spirulina- if dried 2-3 years

  • Amaranth- 1 year if stored in a cool place

Give these plant based proteins a try for a hassle free and budget friendly alternative to animal based protein during the pandemic. (Also, pro ip: beans and nuts are also great sources of incomplete proteins that will last on your shelves for years).