Building a Cache of Vegetarian Foods
The weather here sucked last weekend. Non-stop rain, so I hunkered down with a guilty pleasure I've been putting off for a while, the first season of Naked and Afraid XL. Despite being built around a series of drama (much like most reality shows), one contestant in particular stuck with me. Danielle. She refused to eat any meat for the entire duration of their ordeal, surviving basically off dried fruit and cashews for 40 days. Personally, I think this is a rather awesome feat, as my personal idea of survival involves hunting and a whole ton of red meat to get the protein and calories you need. Looking into it, there's actually quite a lot for vegetarians to eat in a survival situation without having to break their values, you've just got to get a little creative. The key though, is to ensure you get the right balance of carbohydrates, protein and fat in your diet, and today we're going to cover the vegetarian options to add to your stockpile to give you a little variety.
Coconut oil and coconut milk Canned coconut milk will store for years, and it's a halfway decent replacement for animal milk in many recipes. I know because I bought some to try for myself last night, though if you're planning to use it with your cereal, opt for the unsweetened versions unless you've got a crazy sweet tooth. Likewise, coconut oil is another super-item, which you can use for everything from a body lotion to a cooking oil, and it even has sun-protection properties (around SPF 10) if you use it as a sunscreen.
Granola bars Forget beef jerky and make your own granola bars with maple syrup, oats, nuts, dried fruit and berries. There's two main types, the baked versions which also have flour, or you can 'no-bake' it by combining all the ingredients before spreading it out on a cookie sheet and cutting off the individual bars once it hardens. The nuts give you protein and fats, while the oats, fruit and syrup provide the carbs and micronutrients you need to keep your energy levels up. Plus, they're easy to store and carry, and make a great addition to munch on when you're on a hike.
Canned and fresh produce Getting a working garden together isn't all that difficult, and over time you'll quickly fill your pantry with the oversupply of canned fruit and vegetables you've been growing. Growing your own produce means you'll always have seasonal items in abundance, which you can use for trade once the SHTF, or just as your own vegetarian super-stockpile. If growing your own is out of the question (i.e. apartment dwellers), head to your local farmers market and join their co-op. You'll get fresh produce delivered to your home each week, and you can get started building your own stockpile.
Fruit and vegetable leather Do you remember fruit roll-ups from school? You can actually make super-healthy versions of your own with a food dehydrator. Start by cooking a paste that's approximately a quarter vegetables and the rest fruit, reducing it to a complete mush through a food mill before using the fruit leather insert in your food dehydrator to turn the paste into leather. The end result will be the same consistency as the fruit roll ups you remember, and will last a long time in a sealed vacuum-packed bag.
Rice milk This one is really easy to make, just overcook the rice until it begins to soften and then drain and grind it with your food mill. For each cup of the rice milk, add four cups of water, as well as a little salt and sugar to taste. I like adding a little vanilla to this (we've been using rice milk for ages), and you can either drink it or use it to cook with instead of animal milk. If you're short on rice, oat milk can be made following the same process, of course using oats in place of the milk.
Dried foods One of the best sources of vitamins for a vegetarian is dried foods, and many do not require canning or processing for you to be able to store them long term. Beans are going to be a staple of every vegetarian diet, because of their high protein content. They're also easy to store and in an airtight container will last a long time in your stockpile. I also like nut butters for a little extra boost of protein. The bottom line, with the right preparations even a vegetarian will be able to survive a disaster, without having to break their consistency and resort to eating animal products. Of course, only you can determine when it would make sense to consume cheese, eggs or another animal-sourced product to stay alive, but with the right preparations it's an issue you won't have to think about for a long time. You've got plenty of options to build your vegetarian stockpile, so long as you plan in advance and are willing to get a little creative with your preps!