Is it possible to survive as a vegetarian?

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Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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I'm a little fat lady Wayne, and I survive on an average of about 1500 a day.
2,000 a day and I could be enormous !

Most slim women in the west do not eat 2,000 a day, regardless of what's claimed. They just cannot and stay slim. The more physically active may manage, but the majority do not, and the majority world wide do not. 2K a day is a Western idea.
Wikipedia claims 1800 as necessary and then comments about the figures not taking into account household wastage :rolleyes:

I think it needs a different mind set, tbh. Those who live their traditional lives without the trappings of modern civilisation do not do so alone, they do it in family or tribal groups.
The OP asked if it could be done alone…..too many variables I reckon to answer definitively, except to say that it is not going to be easy except in the very best of situations, and those are most likely not the scene he/she envisaged.

If you stop thinking of meat as food at all, and trust me, vegetarians and vegans do. I could no more eat meat than I could eat another human, then instead of comparing vegetable sources of assorted 'necessary' ingredients to the ones from meat, you realise that the vegetable ones are fully complementary within themselves and we genuinely do not need meat to either live or be healthy, especially if one includes wild foods, and their yeasts, in that diet.

Farming makes life easy for both vegetarians and meat eaters.

Those who only hunt often starve, they need fat, and the kidneys and liver cannot process enough 'meat' without the fat to give enough calories…..look at historical population densities for evidence of that (rabbit starvation, etc., too), while humanity thrives when in areas such as those with natural wild grasses and legumes. The Fayoum for instance.

In a Survival situation, nothing changes for me re the food I can and will eat. Humanity has more than hunger to it's multi stranded psyche.

Most modern humans of the western world wouldn't have a clue how to hunt enough and prep enough to survive, any more than they would to do so on purely plant material.

M
 

Robson Valley

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Nov 24, 2014
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McBride, BC
Archeological evidence in the Pacific Northwest suggests that there was considerable division of labor and not simply that men did some things and women did others.
The midden excavations reveal a very diverse diet from Oolican oil to cultivated clams, mussels and oysters as examples. Kitchen gardens made simple sense.
Seasonal harvests were well understood.
I've looked again for the online reference and can't find it = photographs of modern native cultivations and gardens, still managed with a neolithic perspective.

Then again, we might be confronted with a need to eat Quebecois "poutine." Cheese curds over french fries, asphixiated with gravy.
 

Andy BB

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Apr 19, 2010
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Hampshire
You'd need to be big into farming a variety of produce in order to achieve all the amino acids required for long-term survival, let alone the carb intake. And assuming you could actually grow the required produce in any particular climate. And farming on such a scale - on your own - would burn up well over the 2000 calories considered base level long-term survival.

Surviving on your own off the land - assuming you could find a sufficiently large tract - would be virtually impossible long-term without animal protein (and by animal I'm including seafood.)

Those who say they couldn't ever conceive of eating animal products under any circumstances luckily have the luxury of being in a modern world. I often wonder whether they'd extend their principles to their children in a survival situation. Personally, cannibalism - if in a situation like those in the Andes crash - would not be an absolute no-no either.
 

Wayne

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Dec 7, 2003
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I'm a little fat lady Wayne, and I survive on an average of about 1500 a day.
2,000 a day and I could be enormous !

Most slim women in the west do not eat 2,000 a day, regardless of what's claimed. They just cannot and stay slim. The more physically active may manage, but the majority do not, and the majority world wide do not. 2K a day is a Western idea.
Wikipedia claims 1800 as necessary and then comments about the figures not taking into account household wastage :rolleyes:

I think it needs a different mind set, tbh. Those who live their traditional lives without the trappings of modern civilisation do not do so alone, they do it in family or tribal groups.
The OP asked if it could be done alone…..too many variables I reckon to answer definitively, except to say that it is not going to be easy except in the very best of situations, and those are most likely not the scene he/she envisaged.

If you stop thinking of meat as food at all, and trust me, vegetarians and vegans do. I could no more eat meat than I could eat another human, then instead of comparing vegetable sources of assorted 'necessary' ingredients to the ones from meat, you realise that the vegetable ones are fully complementary within themselves and we genuinely do not need meat to either live or be healthy, especially if one includes wild foods, and their yeasts, in that diet.

Farming makes life easy for both vegetarians and meat eaters.

Those who only hunt often starve, they need fat, and the kidneys and liver cannot process enough 'meat' without the fat to give enough calories…..look at historical population densities for evidence of that (rabbit starvation, etc., too), while humanity thrives when in areas such as those with natural wild grasses and legumes. The Fayoum for instance.

In a Survival situation, nothing changes for me re the food I can and will eat. Humanity has more than hunger to it's multi stranded psyche.

Most modern humans of the western world wouldn't have a clue how to hunt enough and prep enough to survive, any more than they would to do so on purely plant material.

M

Mary.

Which plants could you gather in bonnie Scotland to provide you with your 1700 calories per day and what acreage of land would you need to support your family on through purely a veggie diet without modern industrial farming. I was a veggie for 5 years so have no issue with those choosing to not consume animals.

The op asked if you could survive on veggie diet. I have not found any evidence in the last 10 years of looking to support the hypothesis that it is possible to live as a vegetarian purely gathering the plant material from your surroundings. I would be happy to be proved wrong but there is nothing in this thread that proves one could survive long term on a veggie diet without 20th century farming and transport links.

The reason I am no longer a veggie is I have an allergic reaction to cheese. Makes eating out rather dull.
 

Andy BB

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Apr 19, 2010
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Hampshire
Re the children scenario mentioned above, I was including the need for the parents to maintain their own fitness levels in order to be able to care effectively for their children, as well as feeding their children animal produce to maintain their health.
 

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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S. Lanarkshire
Mary.

Which plants could you gather in bonnie Scotland to provide you with your 1700 calories per day and what acreage of land would you need to support your family on through purely a veggie diet without modern industrial farming. I was a veggie for 5 years so have no issue with those choosing to not consume animals.

The op asked if you could survive on veggie diet. I have not found any evidence in the last 10 years of looking to support the hypothesis that it is possible to live as a vegetarian purely gathering the plant material from your surroundings. I would be happy to be proved wrong but there is nothing in this thread that proves one could survive long term on a veggie diet without 20th century farming and transport links.

The reason I am no longer a veggie is I have an allergic reaction to cheese. Makes eating out rather dull.

Right now, nuts :) masses of reed mace too around here. Wild oats, rasps, brambles, hips, loads of apples, etc., about too, and I note where plants grow, I know where I'd dig for things like pignut, celandine, etc., Lanarkshire's pretty lush though and I know other areas aren't either so fertile or varied in their plant sources.

The OP asked for someone alone, so only feeding oneself not a family. I know that I foraged for myself and my youngsters though and didn't find it a problem. Don't know just how easily I'd have managed an entire year round, I do know I wouldn't have attempted it unless under great duress.
Himself used to 'joke' that half a mile walk and Mary and the boys had had lunch :rolleyes: but we still had a well packed pantry at home.

Area wise ? No idea. I know that the wild 'crop' available to us right now though is immense and that's just within half a mile of the house. There's food falling off the trees and just rotting down.

Personally I think it unfeasable for very long unless either a huge crop was gathered and stored or 'gardening' of some kind was possible, and that would need forethought. Understanding the seasonality of things is crucial and there was no mention of that, or how big an area, or for how long one would need to 'survive'…..I'm of the school of thought that Survival is get the hell out asap, while Bushcraft is chill the hell out asap :)

The cheese issue has my complete sympathy. I manage a little mature cheese, but anything with lactose leaves me feeling very ill indeed these days :sigh: My grandmother was the same, so that's not my diet to blame, I hasten to add, just genetics.

I firmly believe that most of us over eat these days. It's easy for us to do so. We still claim we need the same calories as the folks on rationing in wartime, yet most folks eat, work and play indoors now. They take the car instead of walking, etc., They simply don't burn up the same fuel.

I think the OP was too open a question to be honest. When ? where? etc., matter.

atb,
M
 

dewi

Full Member
May 26, 2015
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Cheshire
I think the answer really isn't whether veg or meat give this that or the other... when it comes to survival, its taking in calories every day to keep you alive and the human body is amazing... it will function (although not at capacity) on very few calories, but over time the body will literally eat itself.

Survival, at least in the modern age, is to stay alive until either a) you get rescued or b) you escape.

So the real answer is called 'Knowledge'. If you know enough about the plants around you that you can eat, you should (given the right location) survive until rescued or until you escape. The problem with that answer is that survival is about using all available resources to your advantage. Taking away any meat from your diet, you're limiting your options and making it harder to survive.

I apologise to all for this serious response... I swear I will not do it in the near future, and I apologise profusely to the mods for this uncharacteristic behaviour. I humbly ask that you look elsewhere for my usual ranting and incoherent comments :p
 

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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S. Lanarkshire
I agree with you Dewi, but I would also add the caveat, that most folks cannot hunt anyway, and most of those that do would really, really, struggle to do so without modern firearms.

I can make a bow….how many can make a bow cord though ? how about a slingshot ?

Traps ? Snares ? potentially, if there are rabbits around, and you know how to site the traps/ snares so that they actually catch something.

Fishing ? sea or riverine, loch or streams ? I can guddle….how many do that now though ? and fishing line takes time, and materials, net takes an awful lot of line even if you're making Neolithic knotless. Fish traps…yep, very practical, takes time and skill to make though, and again first source the materials, the right kind of materials.
Shoreline shellfishing, and footguddling for bottom dwellers like small flounders is possible though, and fish dams are sound, just a hell of a lot of work.

I suppose there's always worms….pretty unpalatable unless cooked though I'm told….foxes and badgers seem to survive on diets rich in worms.

Deer ? they run away ….you ever tried to run as fast and as far as a deer ? S'no easy :) or catch birds without either guns or nets ?

What I'm trying to say (sorry, I'm tired, it's late and I'm no' well) is that it's all very well for the meat eaters to claim they'll do better than vegetarians. I think the reality is that it's very much dependant on the individual and their knowledge and skills, and crucially on the site they find themselves, and the season that they find themselves too.

cheers,
M
 
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Wayne

BCUK Welfare Officer
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Toddy. I'm not advocating meat alone. I think in a survival situation you're quite right that food is a long way down our list of priorities and most people don't have the skills or resources to create the means to capture game. I'm fortunate enough to be pretty good with most primitive tools. I'm not too good at traps and snares as they are mostly illegal in the UK and are In my opinion cruel so I haven't invested the time to get really proficient in their manufacture.

Survival generally is a short term experience waiting for others to find you. So most of us can survive on reserves and a few foraged items. Looking at my pictures from the moot I'm carry more reserves than most. Once past that initial survival phase though one needs to consider a longer term plan and that's when the plant based diet starts to fail. Fruit and nuts will only last so long. The hardened carnivore is going to struggle without a source of carbohydrate.

First Nations people spend a vast amount of their day sourcing food. No one would eat manioc if they had a supermarket down the road. Long term survival is hard graft requiring a wide range of skills.

The more I learn the more I realise surviving alone truly alone long term is almost impossible.
 

Toddy

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Jan 21, 2005
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S. Lanarkshire
I am nowhere near as skilled as you are Wayne, but I wholeheartedly agree.
I'm pretty sure that for a short time that a vegetarian would survive just as well as someone who ate everything.
Longer term ? too many variables I reckon.

I know that in the past people gathered seasonally and stored food. Hazelnuts cooked in their shells will last for a couple of years, for example. That pre-supposes that one actually has hazelnuts though.
Similarly seabird squabs plucked from their nests and buried in the right conditions, also preserve well.

Let's just hope that we never need to find out that if can manage it :)

M
 

Goatboy

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Jan 31, 2005
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Scotland
All I'm going to add is that when it all goes PeteTong I want Mary as my co-pilot. :D
Seriously, when playing the five folk you want in your raft if heading for an island when the ship goes down my choice was Toddy, Ruth Goodman, Hugh Fairly-Unstable, Ivan Day (and I cheated and asked for the Hairy Bikers to come as a package). I reckon between that lot we'd eat well and survive.

Sent via smoke-signal from a woodland in Scotland.
 

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