Can You Survive in the Wild Without Meat: Getting to the Meat of the Matter

When lives are on the line, using every resource at your disposal is the smart move. It may not be possible to hunt or fish. You may be vegan/vegetarian or have allergies. Resources can become too limited or contaminated. You never know what you may face. As always, try not to stress and panic, that will wreck your chances the fastest.

Can you survive in the wild without meat? Finding enough protein in a survival situation is difficult at best. Getting only vegetable protein is even harder. Fortunately, it can be done. There are some serious challenges if you want to go without meat in the wild because of how much easier it is to identify safe edible meal.

Where Can I Find Wild Protein

In a survival situation, any disadvantage can tip the scale and kill you. If the world as you know it ends, dietary restrictions, like allergies or any sort of dependency, will make you less likely to endure. Being properly educated and prepared can help swing those odds back to your favor. It can help if you’re willing to relax any self-imposed restrictions, but that is a choice.

For those who consider the need for convenience, you can prepper ahead of time and store away a bag full of food and needed supplies in case you are forced to flee into the woods. I highly recommend getting food that can be stored for years without going bad. Also a safe water supply is essential. I suggest the following bag that you can find here on Amazon to stowaway in your car or have ready at home if you need to evacuate on a drop of a dime.

Plant Protein

Easy sources of protein that everyone is familiar with, like Soy, don’t grow everywhere. The issue with many plant proteins is that they are incomplete. That means you need more to fulfill your needs. When you need more it means extra effort. That takes time and know-how which can certainly become a dangerous problem unto itself.

Sourcing your protein from plants is tricky, but once you understand how it’s done, you can begin to find ways to fill the gaps in your dietary needs without hunting. For example, beans and rice are each partial proteins, but when eaten together they contain about seven grams of protein in a cup.


Nuts are abundant. You can find some variety in almost every climate on earth except Antarctica and perhaps Siberia. Unfortunately, not all nuts are created equal when it comes to locating or using them.


Some nuts are obvious, like Brazil Nuts and Pecans. Most of us recognize a familiar nutshell or two. Certain nuts are excellent sources of protein and easy to find but can be difficult to collect like pine nuts. They are inside pine cones, but because of the size and need to spend time cracking pine cones and removing the outer husks, it can be labor-intensive to get enough of these tasty little treats to do much good.


Acorns are tricky in a different way. In order to be healthy for humans, you need to leach tannins from these incredibly common nuts. The bitter flavor of a raw acorn, which most people rightly spit out, is almost astringent. The excess tannins may harm your kidneys. Luckily those nasty tannins are water soluble, that means they can be boiled out once you understand the process.


Sneaky nuts aren’t really trying to hide from you. Most urban or suburban people simply have never needed to pick, for example, a walnut. The green orbs on a tree do not resemble the nut meat we find in stores or even the unshelled walnuts we see in holiday bowls so often. The tan brain-like appearance of a processed walnut shell is not what you would need to find in nature. You will need an identification guide to help along the way.


The bean family includes peanuts, which actually grow underground. Peas and other more recognizable beans, like kidney and pinto, round out this high fiber and protein group. Once you have the aforementioned plant identification guide you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding beans if they’re around and ripe.


Mushrooms make for excellent sources of protein and vitamins, however, they do come with a dark side. From hallucinations to death, misidentifying mushrooms is as bad as getting the wrong berries. When hunting for wild mushrooms you need to be absolutely certain you have the right species. Poisonous lookalikes are abundant in this family.

What Does A Body Need?

What does a body actually require to survive? Basic nutrition is fairly simple. You need sources of energy, hydration and a complete variety of vitamins and minerals to maintain good health. Nutrients can be broken down different ways, but however you group them, they are vital to your existence.

  • Water- It goes without saying that you will die without a source of adequate clean water.
  • Vitamins and Minerals- Your body has a complex list of mineral and vitamin needs. Among these are salt, B12 and vitamin C. A good supplement will get you a long way in a survival situation until you can make a better arrangement for the rest of your life.
  • Protein and Fats- We have been all over the protein issue in this article. In addition to protein, you need fats to survive. Healthy fats like olive and coconut oil can serve in place of meat fats if necessary or desired.
  • Carbohydrates- Contrary to what many diet gurus might have you believe, carbs are not the devil. Your body turns them into an easy energy source when you need to move quickly or expend a lot of energy, like when you go hiking or chop wood.

Regardless of the source, meats, supplements or entirely vegetable/plant based, without sufficient quantities of the most basic staples in your diet, it will harm or kill you in time. As you can see, meat is less the issue than overall health. Taking a ‘bigger picture,’ perspective is a good way to approach survival.

How long can I go without protein?

One of the questions everyone asks in extreme circumstances is, “How long can I go without…” It’s important to know the answer, but equally important not to fixate on it. Fixation is a distraction. Distraction is the loss of focus, and that will harm your survival chances.

Learn to rephrase things in your head so instead of worrying how long you can go without protein (for example) you are more focused on how long until you can reach a likely source. Know where to get extra protein in your local area and how to get good sources from nature and you won’t need to worry about it at all.

Protein is not like air or light. An adult who is in decent health can last around 70 days with no protein, though they will absolutely suffer for it. Your body will cannibalize muscle tissue and fat reserves to feed your needs.

Women store more lean protein than men, so they are likely to last a little longer if the protein is your only concern, but it’s hardly a guarantee. The science behind starving and nutritional deficiencies is far from complete. Sadly, studying such things may be important, but it’s also pretty unethical to deny humans or even animal test subjects access to basic health requirements.

Final Thoughts

The human body is evolved to eat as an omnivore. Our bodies want vegetables, fruits, legumes, grains, meats and dairy to be healthy. Our ancestors began as nomads, which is another way of saying hunter/scavenger/gatherer. Cultivating plants came much later for us, though we have been able to eat them since before we counted time.

Sure, there are ways around these needs, but it’s easier to just go with the flow when possible. In an extreme situation, dietary preferences are going to be much harder to hold on to. That said, sometimes it’s not an issue of choice. There are plenty of possible circumstances where meat could become temporarily unavailable. Additionally, lots of folks have allergies or intolerances. Surviving without meat isn’t as much the issue as being familiar with plants so you can use all your resources if you’re in a survival situation.

Therefore, I again want to suggest getting food as part of an emergency kit that you can store that is compact and can keep for a long time in harsh weather. Click here to get my suggested product that I recommend from Amazon.

Additional Questions

Is it healthy to eat vegan long term? It’s not hideously difficult, but it can be a challenge in an omnivorous society. The modern world, with grocery stores, supplements and soy lattes you can be vegan with some forethought. In nature, there are protein sources to be had. However, it becomes much more difficult to maintain your dietary needs when you can only source your food locally from what you can get yourself.

Is there any one food you can survive on by itself? If you have modern supplements, it’s very possible to survive on a single source of nutrition. In a survival situation you can live for a while on limited options. If you want a long and healthy life the answer is probably no. Potatoes or meat may come the closest, but both lack certain nutritional components and have a downside, like starch or fat.

What emergency supplies do vegans need more of? In emergencies, living off your own supplies is virtually always the first step. Vegans and vegetarians are no exception and most are familiar with their own needs. Vitamin B12 is especially important. TVP or textured vegetable protein is often stored in case of disaster along with soy, beans, and nuts. If you plan to survive TEOTWAWKI (The End Of The World As We Know It) as a total herbivore, stocking up on your supplements and protein powders beyond what a meat-eating prepper might need is a great idea.

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