Survival Survey: Why not go vegetarian?

One of the very first purchases we made, The Paranoid Dad and I, was two cases of freeze dried meat.  I knew we could grow our own produce and that canned veggies and fruit were cheap, but I was worried about having enough protein in our storage.

image by whatleydude

It seems everyone has a plan for having a supply of meat for the future.  Some intend to do a lot of hunting and fishing.  Others are canning beef and chicken like there’s no tomorrow, and a growing number of families are raising chickens and rabbits.  I can’t help but wonder, though, what’s wrong with planning on eating vegetarian when the S hits the fan?

People have lived on little or no meat for thousands of years.  Yes, most of us eat poultry, fish, and meat, but we’re already stocking up on a lot of the same foods vegetarians eat, such as beans, legumes, rice, etc.  Most preppers have gardens or, at least, have plans to garden and grown some of their own produce, and you can buy freeze-dried and dehydrated versions of just about anything that will stand still long enough!

I’m not trying to pick a fight with carnivores!  Just wondering why more preppers aren’t making plans to eat mostly or all vegetarian in the future.  What about you?  Would you go vegetarian or are you honing your hunting skills?

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  1. says

    This is an argument Hubby and I have often. I was a vegetarian for years, and a vegan for a few more. (Now I'm a full on carnivore.) I would have no problem being vegetarian post SHTF, though. He, on the other hand, can't fathom a meal without meat. He always wants to increase our storage of meat–mostly canned meat, which we don't eat on a regular basis and therefore don't rotate into our everyday meals. I think it's a waste of money since we don't usually eat it.

    Meat, especially canned tuna and salmon, does have the benefit of having lots of fat which would be necessary for long term survival.

    We have a few backyard chickens, though. So if Hubby wants to slaughter one or two for a meal, I guess he could get his meat that way. 😉

    We live in an area where wild game and fish are both readily available. But I don't consider that as part of our long term plan. There are a ton of hunters out here… game would be scarce quickly. Also, neither myself nor Hubby is an expert hunter, so we'd be at a serious disadvantage.

    I can considered learning how to build a few small animal traps, though. If I could get a squirrel or two that might help with Hubby's meat-love.

  2. says

    I spent about a year eating vegetarian…and it was okay….but oh did I miss hamburgers. We probably eat a lot more meatless meals than most families, but I don't see us going 100% veg.

  3. JBB says

    It won't be a matter of choice at that point; we'll all be concerned about finding enough to eat, whether it's vegetable or animal.

    One need not go vegetarian, but we'll all likely move MUCH more in that direction. Beans instead of hamburger, meat "stretching" ingredients, etc.

    Constant meat is a recent development. Used to be folks would only eat meat on special occasions, or once a week, etc. Nowadays the Thanksgiving Turkey isn't that big a deal, you can buy 'em cheap or get 'em free from the grocery store. Wasn't that long ago that bird wasn't more of a rarity of a meal.

    I suspect we'll head back in that direction.

    But another thing about animals is, they convert plants you and I can't eat or wouldn't get much out of, into meat which we can eat and digest well. Pastured animals are wonderful. If folks are going to have to buy rabbit feed to feed their hutch, they're liable to run out of bunnies fast when things go bad.

  4. Tia says

    We are seasonal eaters in my house. In the summer time we dont eat a lot of meat and when we do we keep it light. In the winter time it is a whole different story.
    In a post SHTF situation, I wouldnt have a problem going vegetarian, but would at least want eggs and milk. So I am in the process of figuring out if I can have a goat and the logistics of keeping chickens.
    In my pantry I dont store a lot of meat, I keep canned chicken, tuna, and salmon on hand. I really dont see me going beyond that.

  5. lolajack1 says

    There's nothing wrong with doing both. We eat lots of vegetables and have reduce our meat intake but I have a supply of freeze dried meat along with everything else.

  6. Roxy2711 says

    We have meat as part of our long term storage, but I figure that we will have to make it stretch if the SHTF. We eat meat about 2-4 days a week and I have always thought that was a lot. It never occured to me that we would have meat every day especially in a SHTF senario, I plan on it being a "treat" every once in a while.

  7. nick says

    here is the deal. We are not in the apocalypse… can we survive w/o meat? Sure.. but this entire argument is formed from the unlikely viewpoint that we are going to be involved in some mad max scenario.

    Bottom line, build your skills with food production, but don't turn down some good barbecue just because you think we are going to be living red dawn.

  8. says

    To answer the question, it’s because I don’t need to go vegetarian now. As an omnivore, I know that I can survive on a wide variety of food. In a crisis situation, if all I have to eat is non-meat food, fine, that’s what I’ll eat. But I see no reason to change now when I don’t have to; it’s not like there will never be meat again once the crisis is over.

    Humans are highly adaptable, and that’s the name of the game: Adapt, Overcome, Survive and Thrive!

  9. says

    This is probably good advice for most people and will (more or less) be the outcome in any teotwawki scenario as most people hunt large and small game to near extinction. Over decades I would expect indigenous wild game populations to return and for meat to become a large part of diets.

  10. Barbara says

    Dearest Husband isn't just a simple carnivore, he thinks he's a T-Rex. All that other stuff on the table looks nice, but pass him the meat! I'm more of an omnivore. I really enjoy spaghetti squash or a good red beans and rice, but I'm not giving up my medium rare Prime Rib roast until I have to.

    The human body needs 43 grams of protein a day, unless they are continuously doing very heavy labor. That's the amount in one Quarter Pounder burger. Most American's eat a lot more than that, and sometimes that in itself causes problems.

    Everyone needs to do their homework. Knowledge is easy with the internet. How much of what foods creates the needed "whole" protein? What are the needs of children vs. adults? What are some appealing and diverse ways of preparing these foods? How can I prepare these dishes from "shelf-stable"?

    If not full fledged vegetarian, it may be that you'll be happy with considerably less meat than you're currently accustomed to. A single half-pint jar of canned chicken can make a tasty casserole that feeds six. The same amount of canned beef can be a dandy Italian beef and noodles with lots of interesting sauted vegetables in the sauce, and still feed a small crowd. Just make up the rest of your needed proteins in your other dishes or meals.

    Research. Inform yourselves. There is no need to worry and fear if you know what you're doing. We have nothing to fear but fear itself… and spiders.

  11. Andrea says

    In good times we try to eliminate fat from our diet, in bad times we try to get as much fat as possible.

    I heard this recently and it is really true. When the SHTF, I will want as much (animal) fat in my diet as possible. I'm not a vegetarian, so I may be wrong, but its much harder to get fat in your diet if you don't eat meat. I imagine that it would be even harder post-shtf.

    • countrygirl says

      Andrea, I agree for the most part with your comment, right now we eat very low fat and if we were working harder physically or rationing our food, we would certainly increase our fat. Even now when we do extended outdoor activites in the winter we increase our fat consumption. We live in Alaska and as a kid when I went winter camping my mom would cook up a pound of bacon and put it in a zip lock for me to snack on.

      So, my comment about your statement. I want to remind people that wild game has little to no fat. It's actually very healthy. There is an old statement that a person can starve eating rabbit. And it's true eating wild rabbit alone does not give you the neccesary fats for healthy body functions.

      My suggestion to address this is to stock olive oil. which doesn't last particularly long but would be an easy supplement to add calories and fat to any diet.

  12. says

    Plenty of people live healthy, happy and productive lives never eating anything that ever had a mother or a face. I like meat, but I can go days, weeks and months without eating any and I have. Whole cultures based in vegetarianism thrive in today's world. Vegetarian food storage is a lot cheaper than carnivore food storage. Here in the desert there are vegetable sources for high quality protein. There's sufficient rainfall that with appropriate capture methods can sustain a garden, as well as the family which tends it.
    Unless one plans to eat one's neighbor, vegetarianism will be the thing to do once the meat stores run out and the game is overhunted.

  13. Mike says

    My family is pretty close now, and its not for health or ethical reasons. We are trying to keep costs down, and eat what we store / store what we eat.

    So one Sam's club rotisserie chicken is often the week's meat.

    But we love lentils for tacos, in pasta, and soups, black beans too. Mix some flour with eggs put that in boiling water and you have dumplings that are as hearty and filling as meat. Pasta with onions, garlic, parmesan, olive oil and just about anything else (beans, peas, squash, pumpkin, sweet potato, eggs) is a treat. Make falafel out of garbanzos or even split peas – hummus too. Throw some flour, eggs, and spices with beans or split peas or potatoes or squash or just about anything and you have really good fritter patties.

    I have no qualms about chewing on some cow or pig. Its great. But it's also great knowing for sure you will eat well and happily on entirely shelf stable foods.

    And for those of you on the cave man diet or whole raw foods diets that are ready to jump down my throat – wasn't the life span of a caveman or hunter gatherer about 25 years? I'll get by with the foods that kept the peasants of civilizations for the last 6,000 years or so alive and working – they are still the most economical and practical options.

  14. Christie says

    I hear ya. We eat meat, but not a ton. It's something we're trying to eat less and less as the government falls apart more and more. Our long-term food plan doesn't involve meat. We eat meat a couple of times per week right now, but mostly beans and cheese as our protein. I think it's a good idea to have "mostly" transitioned to in preparation for the fit hitting the shan. To drop eating chicken or turkey once or twice a week will be no big to me, the hubs, and our four chittlens.

  15. Lainey says

    If TEOTWAWKI happens, hunting and fishing will quickly become useless endeavors- too many people and not enough wildlife in this area. We are raising chickens and rabbits for their valuable fertilizer, eggs, and meat. I am looking into aquaponics for the fish and veggie slant. I am an omnivore. Have tried the vegetarian route. Had dreams of medium rare steaks. lol :) I'm just saying.

  16. says

    Plenty of people live healthy, happy and productive lives never eating anything that ever had a mother or a face. I like meat, but I can go days, weeks and months without eating any and I have. Whole cultures based in vegetarianism thrive in today's world. Vegetarian food storage is a lot cheaper than carnivore food storage. Here in the desert there are vegetable sources for high quality protein. There's sufficient rainfall that with appropriate capture methods can sustain a garden, as well as the family which tends it.

    • Michele says

      I was a vegetarian most of my adult life and my favorite cookbook is the "new" Moosewood cookbook – the 25th anniversary edition. Check it out of your library first to get a feel for it. The Lentil Soup and Cauliflower Cheese Pie are good places to start. Good luck!

    • VegieMom says

      My favorite is still “Laurel’s Kitchen” (lots of good nutritional info), but “Vegetarian Cooking for Everyone” by Deborah Madison is very good and so is an older one called, “Moosewood Cookbook” by Mollie Katzen.

  17. says

    I think the biggest potential concern with going vegetarian is, as someone else mentioned, the fat. If you do not get the correct kinds and minimum amounts of fat, your body cannot process the nutrients in the rest of your food properly and may throw itself out of whack in a number of ways, trying to compensate. Whole milk, fatty fish, olive oil, bacon grease, etc. are all key sources of those necessary, healthy fats. Though I have no problem with someone going vegetarian if they want to, I would encourage them to plan well and make sure they have access to appropriate amounts of good fats – regardless of what form they want to get them in.

    Also, I would caution that when going veg one should not consider TVP or any other soy-based protein a substitute for meat. The human body cannot digest soy unless it has been properly fermented and the phyto-estrogens in soy do serious damage to people's hormones. In a grid-down situation, the last thing you want is to be unnecessarily compromising your body like that!

    Good topic for discussion though. :0)

  18. says

    Interesting question: will I eat a tone of veggies? Yes. Will I stop eating meat? Hell no. Two reasons. 1. If the S has HTF, I'll eat whatever I can get with very few exceptions. 2. It is easier to get fresh meat in the winter than it is to get fresh veggies. I like to have as many options as I can. It's all about flexibility.

  19. Gerardo says

    Why go vegetarion if you can go omnivore?
    Stock as much as you can, and be prepared to raise, garden, etc. as much as you can.
    And never say no to some meat, as well as never say no to some veggies.

  20. Canadianmom says

    My hubby, my 2 daughters, and me do not eat meat or poultry, only fish a couple times a week. My 16 TR old son does eat meat, and I make beef stew, chili, ribs, etc for him and he reheats the leftovers for himself whenever he wants more than our veggie fare.

    If the SHTF I would not find it hard to be completely vegetarian, however, having just one can of fish per week mixed in with pasta or salad would be pretty nice.

    We live in the country, and lose our power for more than 12 hours about 4 times a year. Every time this happens, we learn a little more and add a few more things to our emergency supplies. Last year we bought a small generator to pump water from our basement when the power was out for 2days in a huge rainstorm when the snow was melting. Still, we know now that it's the compound problems that catch us. Maybe another time we will have power outage, rain, melting snow, and no gasoline available to buy…

    13 years ago, during the widespread ice storm, I went back to breastfeeding my already weaned one year old because it was necessary.

    For now, our meat storage is simply a dozen cans of fish, and some frozen fish in the freezer part of our fridge. That should be ok for about 3 months. We also have about the equivalent in pet food storage.

    I also like to keep things really clean and tidy. Through all our power failures, I've learned that it's so much easier to deal with things if you start off with all clean dishes, all clean laundry, and everything put away where it should be. No stuff to trip over on the floors in the dark. Good for the kids to be in this habit too.

  21. says

    I believe that we are meant to eat meat but just not as much as we (society) currently does. So if the end comes and we are relying on ourselves and eating less meat, it won't be bad, and if it turned out we can't get meat well so be it. People have always lived on what they can grow, catch or barter regardless of what it is.

    For my family, we have a flock of chickens (which is currently growing) and plan to put barramundi in our dam, so they can eat the talapia (huge pest fish here) and then we eat the barramundi (so looking forward to that). However, these will not form a large part of our diet, it will be the garden that will provide that.

    I think we will be mostly vegetarians with some meat when we are able to get it or can afford to lose one of our flock.

  22. ZSwinehart says

    Meat is an important part of our diet. I keep canned meats, hunt game regularly, and am planning on raising rabbits, fish, chickens, and crayfish to help make my family more prepared for any situation. While I understand questioning whether or not it is necessary to keep such food on hand I think a good source of protein in the form of meat is important for variety. In a SHTF scenario let's just be honest, protein is protein is protein. Whether your protein comes from eggs, venison, beans or other sources (rats, cats, and dogs) won't matter, survival will. I for one am totally prepared to eat anything that moves if it comes down to it.

  23. VMX says

    Obviously the people who will survive and thrive in a dystopian future will be opportunistic omnivores, eating anything that provides sustenance. The human race will do what is necessary to survive.

    • Chandra says

      Hear, hear! I for one will be willing to eat anything I can get my hands on post SHTF (except armadillo- leprosy). If that means a month of mostly apples fine. a completely veg diet fine. a month of rats whatever. I’ll eat anything I don’t have good reason to believe is dangerous if I get that hungry.

  24. GoneWithTheWind says

    WHY!? Veganism and vegetarianism is a fad thing that is easy to do in a world full of super markets. Why would you choose to adhere to a fad that requires great effort to consume all the nutritional requirements?? The real question should be to vegetarians to ask if they will continue their fad diet when food is hard to come by.

  25. wa1mac says

    I'm already a vegetarian, been one for 25 years. There's an excellent source of survival vegetarian foods,, their line of beef-not, chicken-not etc are like freeze dried meat, add water and use just like meat in any recipe

  26. Dave, RN says

    I second all those remarks about fat. Vitamins A, D, E andK are fat soluble. You must have fat to absorb them. There is too much emphasis on wheat as a basic prep food, and people forget about fats, perhaps because they have been so vilafied (unjustly so) in the press. Wheat has no place in my food plans. You can store more calories and nutrients in a smaller space by storing nutrient dense foods. For my money, it's canned salmon, sardines, coconut milk, coconut oil, pemmican and Ghee. You can also can your own meat like chicken and hamburger. Hamburger can also be dehydrated and stored in mylar bags with o2 absorbers.
    After thse basis are taken care of I grow what I can and also would have dehydrated or freeze dried vegitables.
    PS: Don't store vegitable oil. It's extremely high in omega 6 fats and is resposible for systemic inflammation.

  27. Late 2 conversation says

    I've been a vegetarian for health and environmental reasons for 10 years, but I used to LOVE meat. The first year or so of transitioning to vegetarianism were REALLY hard- I just craved all of my favorite meat dishes and felt really deprived, and this is in a situation where I certainly wasn't deprived: I had all the yummy milk, cheese and fish dishes I could eat! I would cheat a lot and for years looked forward to holidays when I deemed it ok to have that Thanksgiving turkey, Christmas bacon or sausage brunch and Easter lamb. By year 2 or 3 I didn't miss the meat so much, and would only cheat on holidays. At this point, 10 years out, I don't even like meat anymore. I went to a gourmet restaurant for my birthday the year before last and thought I'd treat myself to some venison, a former favorite, but I didn't even want to finish it. I ended up trading meals with my mom who raved about how great it was.

    My point to all this is that if you're an enthusiastic meat eater, making the transition to vegetarianism is psychologically difficult in the best of situations but would be especially demoralizing in a survival situation when food isn't the only thing you're feeling deprived of. A lot of people in this thread talk about how they're mostly vegetarian now- and that's a great stance to take. It's a pragmatic choice for their health and the environment now to eat less meat, and they'll be psychologically better able to handle the lack of meat if things ever go south in the future. Social history is an interest of mine, and as a lot of people have already pointed out, meat everyday at almost every meal is a VERY modern eating pattern- at least for the common man- and not a very sustainable one on that.

    • SingleMom says

      Your second paragraph covers a valid point that many of us don’t think about. I know that my father and grandfathers would have felt that they’d failed their families if we hadn’t had meat at every meal. I miss that sometimes, but I’m glad that we’re in a position where it’s just not possible to have meat regularly. If a situation arises where meat isn’t readily available, we’ll already be used to eating a variety of substitutes.

  28. SingleMom says

    We’re not vegetarian, but we get most of our protein from cheese, eggs, and peanut butter, all of which is cheaper than meat. I can buy 4 cans of flavored TVP for the cost of 1 can of freeze-dried meat. No, it’s not as good (and too much too soon will lead to “intestinal discomfort”), but money is a significant factor in our daily lives as well as our food storage.

    Chili with beef TVP, dried beans, and tomato powder tastes better than when I make it with fresh ground meat, canned kidney beans, and tomato sauce. Chicken noodle soup made with chicken TVP tastes no different than a can of Campbell’s. My kids love the bacon TVP cooked in omelets or sprinkled on salads. We all enjoy the taco TVP, which I like better than hamburg cooked with taco seasoning.

    We do have tuna, Spam, and canned chicken in our storage, but as long as you plan for a balanced diet — protein, fat, carbs, assorted vitamins — you’ll be fine whether you have real meat or not. (I could never become vegan — I can’t live without milk and cheese, so I have those in powdered forms, too.)

  29. Rose Rimar says

    There will be so many people that are out hunting in my area that game animals will be gone in no time. No doubt many people will find themselves in the same position. I am prepping for myself and my extended family. They all eat meat – I don’t. Protein is NOT the issue here – plant protein will do very nicely (do the research). I have (so far) flour, yeast, corn flour, corn, pea flour, white bean flour, black bean flour, garbanzo flour, soy milk powder, coconut oil, LOTS of quinoa, rice, red, white, black, lima beans,chickpeas,soybeans. I don’t know how they will handle the meat situation – not my dept.

    I plan to make tempey, lots of soups and stews, corn bread, bread, sauer kraut and kim chi, pancakes, bean and rice burritos. The bean flours are packed up in vacuum bags and then in mylar bags in buckets not sure how long they will last. I am dehydrating carrots, peas, corn, squash, tomatoes, sweet potatoes. If a teotwawki would happen at the end of October – I sure would hate to have to go all winter without veggies and just have to live on beans and bread. Although I could do it if I had to! I plan to have my dehydrator going 24/7 this summer!

  30. Natasha says

    B12 completely reliant on red meat. Palm of your hand size of necessary protein requirements for.a person per day. B12 necessary for neurological function . Vegetarian is a lifestyle luxury. Yes, our ancestors ate very little animal protein, and yes 45 was an old person. Ancestors vegetarians by necessity, not neccessarily by purpose.

  31. says

    Thank you for opening up a valuable discussion. I’ve been a vegetarian for over 40 years and would not eat an animal, even if I was starving. This may sound extreme to some of your readers, but there are spiritual perspectives which are often not contemplated, or even known about. There are many interpretations of the word ‘vegetarian’, some of which apparently include eggs or fish or chicken, and I often wonder where in the veggie garden these things grow, because they sound ‘animal’ to me. Another matter almost completely unknown in the USA is the vibrational quality of foods. I learned spiritual vegetarianism from an Indian master, and in this system, foods are selected for their vibrational frequency and their effect on the mind, not just the body. Foods to be avoided for spiritualists are meat, fish, eggs, onions, garlic and mushrooms. Again, this selection is vibrational, and these foods are not conducive to mental peace or spiritual evolution. Coming back to a survival situation, someone who has not eaten these foods for many years cannot eat them, even if starving, because the vibrational effects will be detrimental. The person will probably vomit the food anyway. My web site listed has more information regarding food selection, as does my other site SurvivalRetreatPlans-dot-com.

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