Two Letters Re: Storage Foods for Vegetarians?

Mr. Rawles,
Just a quick note which may be of interest to your recent correspondent who inquired about long-term storable vegetarian meal options… please pass this along and/or publish it, or not, as you see fit.
There are indeed vegetarian MREs in the standard army-surplus offerings, but there have also been been some specialized vegetarian long-term shelf-stable rations developed under the names of (among others) “Meal, Alternative Regionally Customized” (MARC) and “Humanitarian Daily Rations” (HDR). The MARCs were designed to feed prisoners at Guantanamo Bay, and the HDRs were designed for emergency feeding in natural disasters; neither contain animal products or byproducts, in an effort to make them, by design, as acceptable as possible to end-users with belief-based food taboos.
See, e.g., these web pages MARC and HDR.

Some judicious Googling will turn up some purchase opportunities for surplus MARCs, such as this supplier. (Where MARCs are [euphemistically] described as “Vegetarian Indian Food MRE Entrees.”
I’ve sampled a couple of these, and while they will not make you forget your favorite Indian restaurant (to put it mildly) they’re pretty damned good for what they are.
Standard disclaimers apply: I have no affiliation with any vendor of MREs, including anyone who’s linked above… I am just trying to pass along some possibly useful information to vegetarian/vegan readers of the blog.

I enjoy SurvivalBlog very much, by the way. I grew up in the country but have been living in New York City for many years now, and as a man whose only currently viable plan is “hunker down and shelter in place for anything that’s short-term survivable” (working on it!) I’m learning a lot, and I appreciate the calm, sane, rational approach you take to the subject matter.All best, – Barry C.


Dear Mr. Rawles,
First thank you for “Patriots”, your excellent blog, and your leadership.
Second, I have to laugh at the current blog discussion regarding preparing and vegetarians, with most input coming from non-vegetarians.
I’m 44 years old, have been vegetarian for over 15 years, and hold a first class FAA medical. Furthermore, my cholesterol has been routinely in the 130-150 range for years. To clarify, I’m probably the least “picky” eater I know. Basically don’t feed me anything with chicken, pork or beef in it and I’m happy. (Anything requiring a .gov warning to burn to a cinder before it’s fit(?) for human consumption.)
To the point: Protein is not an issue and never has been. (B vitamins and in particular B12 can be, though.) Supplementation with a good multivitamin is a good idea with any kind of diet.) Complete protein for a vegetarian is as easy as rice with beans, or corn with beans. Done. American Indians subsisted and prospered with “The Three Sisters”: corn, beans, and squash. Sounds good to me, and with proper seed selection is even a sustainable menu as well.
As for a stockpile, I’ll take rice and beans over cows or chickens any day! And as you already pointed out, I’ve been eating the stuff for years. When TEOTWAWKI happens, basically from a diet, gastric, and menu perspective, I really wouldn’t notice much of a change. That’s probably a significant advantage.
Ideas like buying prepackaged vegetarian “meals,” though well intentioned are kinda silly, considering the 50 pound bags of staples/seeds that are already available, inexpensive, and easily storable for years.
Thanks again and God Bless, – Ed in Oregon

JWR Replies: I agree that at a fixed-site retreat, pre-packed meals (such as MREs and MARCs) don’t make much sense. But when operating in the field, they save time, obviate the need to carry a stove and cooking utensils, and reduce the noise, odor, and light “signature” of a campsite. In my experience, 80% or more of the food supplies that a family needs to store can be found in bulk at very competitive prices at your local “big box” membership store, such as Costco or Sam’s Club. This sort of procurement is described in detail in my “Rawles Gets You Ready” preparedness course.