The latest victim of COVID's unpredictable rise? The workforce that brings food to your grocery store. Specifically, this week, truckers, loaders, packagers, and others who are doing the unseen tasks of delivering your meat, eggs, and poultry every week are out sick. The shortages that started in the Northeast are expected to roll out across the country in the weeks to come.

“Omicron is taking its toll at different levels of the supply chain, whether it’s the warehouses, whether it’s the selectors, the drivers, the loaders — and as they call in sick, there are interruptions in the system,” Supermarket CEO of Gristedes John Catsimatidis told Todd Piro during a television appearance.

These disruptions are expected to grow over the next six weeks as the COVID-19 variant impacts the labor market, especially in hard-hit areas like the Northeast, where the cost of foods like beef, eggs, and chicken have risen double digits as some suppliers attempt to slow demand by raising prices. The thinking is that some people will choose other alternative protein sources.

What to eat instead of meat, chicken, and eggs? Plant-based alternatives

The question of what to make for dinner, other than a sorry bowl of cereal, or plain pasta with red sauce, is solved when you look beyond the empty meat cases and instead go to the section of the store (or online retailer) that carries meat alternatives, as well as non-poultry chicken and eggs made with legumes. These plant-based products are not only healthier for you and more sustainable for the environment, but also satisfyingly real and delicious.

These products have been gaining in popularity over the past three years during the pandemic, not just for their benefits to the environment and human health, but due to their dramatic evolution in taste and likeness to the real thing.

There is good news amidst this economic upheaval: For anyone who has ever considered buying plant-based meat alternatives, the latest generation of new plant-based meat and dairy alternatives, along with chicken and eggs made without the bird, have evolved to become tastier than ever, and there are realistic tasting, healthy chicken alternatives that will satisfy every taste bud.

Whether you're eating a Beyond burger with all the fixings (and non-dairy cheese) or a plate of Nuggs chicken nuggets that so closely resemble those of your childhood you could fool a toddler, or whipping up a slightly browned, perfect omelet of JUST Egg, you will find yourself wondering: "Why didn't I try this before?"

Here is your grocery list to take to the store, or if supermarkets near you are showing empty shelves, then try shopping for these online, either at Amazon or at vegan-centric retailers like PlantX and Vejii which added two-day shipping for popular items. All of these products are still in supply and you can have them at your doorstep, in many cases, within 48 hours.

Here is your shopping list for meat and poultry alternatives

Vegan Chicken: 

  • Nuggs
  • Incogmeato Chik’n Tenders
  • Alpha Foods Chik’n Nuggets
  • Raised & Rooted Plant-Based Nuggets
  • Gardein Ultimate Plant-Based Chik’n Nuggets
  • Daring Original Breaded Pieces
  • Rebellyous Foods Plant-based Nuggets
  • Morning Star Chick’n Nuggets
  • Field Roast Classic Nuggets

Vegan Pork: 

  • Abbot’s Butcher Spanish Smoked Chorizo
  • Upton’s Naturals Bar-B-Que Jackfruit
  • PigOut Pigless PorkRinds
  • Viana Vegan Snack Sausages
  • Lightlife Smart Bacon
  • Tofurky Ground Chorizo

Vegan Bacon:

  • Be Leaf Vegan Bacon
  • Sweet Earth Benevolent Bacon
  • Prime Roots Superprotein Bacon
  • Upton’s Bacon Seitan
  • Hooray Foods Plant-Based Bacon
  • LightLife Smart Bacon

Vegan Egg:

  • JUST Egg
  • Zero Egg

Vegan Burgers

  • Beyond Burger
  • Impossible Burger

Vegan Veggie Burgers

  • Hilary’s Black Bean Veggie Burger
  • Wholesome Pantry Sweet and Spicy Pepper Veggie Burger
  • Trader Joe’s Masala Burger
  •  Dr. Praeger’s Heirloom Bean
  • Qrunch Quinoa Burgers
  • Amy’s Kitchen Black Bean Veggie Burger
  • Gardein Black Bean Burger
  • Dr. Praeger’s Kale Veggie Burgers
  • Hilary’s Root Veggie Burgers
  • Gardein Garden Veggie Burger
  • Gardein Chipotle Black Bean Burger
  • Amy’s California Veggie Burger

Here's How to Find the Best Plant-Based or Vegan Products

For the best tasting and healthiest plant-based products to buy and try, check out The Beet's Product Reviews. For each one, we taste test and rate the health aspects of the product based on a ten-point list of attributes. For every product we test, the highest rating is 5 Beets for health and 5 Beets for taste. (We give points for taste attributes like: "No aftertaste," or "As good as the real thing," etc.) Add your taste ratings to these Beet Meter reviews today.

Bottom Line: Meat, poultry, or Egg Shortages Near You? What to buy instead

Instead of just making pasta with red sauce for dinner, this is the perfect moment to try out some of the best-tasting plant-based meat alternatives. Enjoy a burger or chicken nuggets, or an omelet with eggs made from mung bean. These products are now so realistic you won't believe they're vegan. Take this list to the store.

More From The Beet