How does a Vegan prepare for TEOTWAWKI in a family who loves meat?

This guest post by Doc and entry in our non-fiction writing contest.

I have passed my 70th birthday. A year ago, I ate lean meat, dairy products, eggs, and olive oil. It was an overall a healthy diet. I was a controlled diabetic dependent on medication, not insulin, statins for high cholesterol, and an ace inhibitor, blood pressure medication, to protect my kidneys from the diabetes. Last February, two sisters and two cousins contacted me about starting a program developed by Dr. Esselstyn from the Cleveland Clinic to clear a blockage in a sister’s neck and diabetes, high cholesterol, and high blood pressure in my brother-in-law. Knowing I also had the same medical issues, I was invited to join the group and today I can report that neither my brother-in-law nor I have any signs of diabetes, high cholesterol, or high blood pressure and everyone in the group has lost 25-45 pounds. It also looks as though the blockage in my sister’s neck is decreasing in size. I now know if TEOTWAWKI happens I am no longer dependent on medication for survival. First step to survival; get healthy! Then stay with the program!

Always begin prepping by assessing skills and resources. I am a long-time gardener now retired from teaching special education of children with more severe disabilities. I left the classroom at 71 years and began a backyard business of propagating landscaping plants through cuttings, germinating seed and growing herbs, perennials, and vegetable plants. I broker blackberries, raspberries, jostaberries, currants, strawberries, etc. each January and February which gives me access to affordable additional berry plants when I begin enlarging the garden this year. I am also at home with woodworking and general carpentry. I bought my “walking, talking, singing, dancing” table saw for my 70th birthday. I love tools. If I cannot be found in a store, look in the tool department. My only daughter is like me so the two of us are learning electricity, plumbing, general maintenance, and new woodworking skills together. But the main skill I have is growing food in the garden and putting back food.

As I need a diet based on grains and beans and my garden is in the process of being enlarged, I began buying 25 pound bags of winter wheat, oats, buckwheat, white rice and brown rice several varieties of beans including soy beans for soy milk and tofu. I prefer Almond milk but if TEOTWAWKI happens, Almond milk will not be available. In Arkansas, we cannot buy dry ice for treating storage grains and beans. I layered edible DE in about 6 layers in each 5-gallon tub. The amount is 1 cup per 5 gallon bucket. Buckwheat, brown rice, soy beans, and rolled oats are stored in their bags in the deep freeze to prolong their shelf life. If and when TEOTWAWKI happens, I will not be able to keep the oils in those foods from turning rancid after a while. From some of the literature, I have been told 6 months to a year in storage is all I will probably get with those foods.

While building my supply of the above staples, I started buying frozen vegetables on sale-mixed vegetables, peas, peas and carrots, baby limas, and corn. I am the bugout point for the family so I need enough vegetables for a year to allow the year’s garden to replace what has been saved. I held the vegetables in the freezer until I started dehydrating them. My Excalibur dehydrator does 9 trays at a time and the 3 round dehydrators can dry 5 trays each. Stores often have sales on vegetables and fruit in the fall. I bought lots of potatoes, onions, carrots, celery and dehydrated them as diced vegetables. Cole slaw mixes are dried as. The dried vegetables are stored in half-gallon containers for soup and additions to any cooking to increase nutrition. I often put a handful of vegetables in many of my bean dishes. I prefer one-pot meals. I bought lots of apples and some were given to me. They become applesauce or dried slices. Christmas oranges are peeled, sliced, and frozen until I start making apple/orange preserves. Any fruit I can slice and dehydrate is fair game. Grapes, I cut in half and dry flesh side up. Dehydrating grapes is much easier that way.

At this time, I am redesigning my garden to increase 20 fold. I now have the plant stock for apple, apricot, cherry, peach, fig, pomegranate, and nectarine trees to plant this coming spring. The blueberries are 15 years old, but I want to double the number this spring. I have some primocane (2-year-old canes ready to produce this year) blackberries and raspberries to transplant into the new area. The strawberry bed will be increased. I potted up 3 varieties of seedless grapes recommended for growing in NW Arkansas. They also will be planted this spring. Plus, I am growing mulberry, elderberries, gooseberries, jostaberries, currants, hardy kiwi, wild roses (for hips), and any other edible plant I can find around the cleared area. Now for the hard part; growing enough dried beans to feed me and at least four other adults using heirloom seed so I can keep seed for the following year’s crop.

I am opting for pole beans whenever possible; otherwise, I will be planting beans in blocks or wide rows. I have had tremendous production using square foot gardening planting seeds 3 inches each way-9 plants to the square foot. My raised beds are 4 feet by 8 feet. I like raised beds as they are more productive and easier on the back. A good portion of the garden will be for all the different types of beans I like and use-black turtle, pinto, chickpea, navy, northern, small red, Vermont cranberry, etc. I eat a lot of lentils, but I have never grown them. My goal this year is to learn how to grow this very nutritional food. My granddaughter’s new husband is from India and tells me lentils, dal, is the first food of babies because of its protein level.

Tomatoes are vital in prepping. I plan on using tomatoes at least 4-5 times a week in dishes. I grow mostly paste/sauce heirloom tomatoes. I want to save all my vegetable seed. Until things are bad, though, I will continue to use some favorite hybrid seeds, but not depend on them. I sauce or dice for canning and I dry a good portion of the available tomatoes. A large amount of cherry tomatoes was given to me that was too much to eat right now. I washed, blanched, sliced in half and then put the tomatoes in the dehydrator. I just chopped some for a dish a couple of weeks ago and they were quite tasty.

The soup mix as I call them all take to being grown in the raised beds. These are the onions, garlic, celery, carrots, parsnips, and potatoes etc. I dry most of these including some of the potatoes as this climate is not good for keeping vegetables long-term.

I will be growing Irish potatoes for the family, but my diet depends on sweet potatoes and winter squash. Both keep well in an unheated room in my house. I also dehydrate and can some sweet potatoes for quicker use. I tend to be too busy to spend a lot of time in the kitchen cooking.

I think about what will I do if a disaster is so serious, I run out of grains. As a diabetic, I am better with wheat, buckwheat, and oats than with corn. Yes, I add frozen, canned, or dehydrated corn to the bean dishes, but I do not eat a lot of corn bread. The family will eats lots of cornbread so I will need to address their needs. I am learning about growing grain crops by planting small areas and processing to learn what to do if necessary.

A vegan preparing for TEOTWAWKI is no different except for the increased almost double the amount of beans, grains, fruits and vegetables that are put into storage. As I eat no fat added to my foods and no eggs, baking is non-existent except for pancakes made with applesauce for oil and egg replacer for the eggs, whole grain bread, and maybe cornbread. Grains and root crops are increased or decreased to lose, maintain, or gain weight. The beans, vegetables, and fruit provide the basic foundation to the diet. I eat from my storage daily so everything is always in rotation. The doctor has been testing me quarterly and is amazed with my bloodwork. He tells me to continue whatever I am doing so I know this works for me and for 11 other members of the family.

My children and grandchildren want the traditional diet which means I also prep with their needs in mind. My late husband and I homesteaded on this property for 11 years without utilities. During those years I raised reject chicks from the local brooder houses supplying chicks to the farmers with the huge broiler chicken houses. I had no electricity so it was necessary to can the meat. Also during those years I worked a 35 doe rabbitry producing 3200-3300 kits a year to a local company. I also raised a herd of milk goats. Starting this spring, I will begin growing laying hens for eggs and new chicks and I will get a small rabbitry up and going again. Starting after the SHTF is not the way to go. I want a flock of birds and at least 3 breeding does and 2 bucks in the rabbitry well in advance. I learned the hard way; never settle for one breeding buck. If the buck dies and he might, no more kits! There is also a one-acre pond with abundant fish, turtles, frogs, etc. and a herd of about 25 deer with loads of small game on this land. The family will have the meat and eggs to eat with the beans and grains to supplement the meat. This is the difference between prepping for a Vegan and the more traditional American diet.

Here are a few of the books I go to often for reference:

‘The Resilient Gardener” Food Production and Self-Reliance in Uncertain Times by Carol Deppe.

Gardening-when it counts’ by Steve Solomon.

Any book by Eliot Coleman dealing with growing vegetables the year around using frost fabric and low tunnel hoop houses.

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About M.D. Creekmore

M.D. Creekmore is the owner and editor of He is the author of four prepper related books and is regarded as one of the nations top survival and emergency preparedness experts. Read more about him here.


  1. Doc, How do you keep the deer, wild rabbits etc. from eating all your garden? We have a terrible time keeping all the varmints out of the beans, corn and stuff. I think we’ve tried everything, but I bet you know something we don’t. Thanks

    • Ozark Flower Lady says:

      I have a 6 foot high dog wire fence around the entire growing area supported on 4 x 4 posts. It costs money, but having a dependable food supply is more important.

    • Desert Fox says:

      I found that a fence 4-5 ft high was enough, but the trick was a narrow garden plot…about 12 feet wide or less by whatever length you want. I had many deer passing through my property (I counted once 19 deer hanging around) but never had one jump the fence. They don’t like to come into a narrow place for fear of being “trapped.”

      • Ozark Flower Lady says:

        You are right, Desert Fox. Two low fences no more than 4 feet apart will do the same thing as will a fence with high plants on the inside. Deer want to know where they are landing.

  2. Doc, thanks for this article. You inspired me to plan gardening expansions for this year, even though I’m no spring chicken, either. 🙂

    I’m most interested in the fact that you dehydrate potatoes and onions. I don’t have any suitable long-term storage area, so I’ve been unable to keep any quantity of root veggies.

    I’m pretty new to dehydrating, so I would be grateful for any detail you could provide. You say you cube them. Could you go into a little more detail, like how big and how long it takes to do them?

    Thanks for the info.

    • Ozark Flower Lady says:

      Potatoes are one of the easiest to dehydrate. I have slices and diced. Slices start with 1/4 inch thickness. Dice is about 1/4 cube. I blance for 3 minutes in boiling water, drain, and put onto the trays. Remember as you are paring and slicing or dicing to use citric acid or lemon juice to keep the potatoes from turning brown. Good luck.

      • Millie in KY says:

        Do you dehydrate sweet potatoes the same way? Thanks!

        • I half bake mine (center still firm as it makes them easier to grate) then shred on a grater before dehydrating them and storing them in jars. Put up about 40 – 50 pounds a year. To use I just add boiling water and cinnamon to whatever amount I need and I have a bowl of mashed sweet potatoes to eat as is or use in pies or what ever.

          • Ozark Flower Lady says:

            Thanks, tommy2rs. Dehydrating sweet potatoes is a new one for me. I have 50 pounds here to process. Neighbor called me today to go over to his house and pick up some vegetables. He gets the bags of potatoes when one in the bag starts to rot. The store throws out the whole bag!! The neighbor picks it up to give to his hogs and chickens. First those, he goes through and gets the perfectly good vegetables and apples. I have processed 7 trays in the Excalibur with potatoes and 2 trays with summer squash. I still have 10 bags of new potatoes to sort through, wash, and prepare for the pressure canner. Tomorrow I will deal with fennel, white onions, cauliflower, and the cranberries I bought for cranberry sauce to can. For almost the first of February, I still spend a lot of time in the kitchen.

        • Suburban Housewife says:

          I found a super easy method for dehydrating sweet potatoes on line. I wish I could remember where so I could credit them.

          Cook the sweet potatoes, then peel them. Mostly the skin just slides off after they are cooked. Put the potato -or if too big put a chunk of potato between 2 sheets of wax paper and roll it out thin and flat. Flip the potato “pancake” onto the drying tray and dehydrate. The thinner you roll it the faster it will dehydrate. When dry, break it into pieces and store in a jar – or run it thru your blender to make it into powder.

          You now have instant mashed sweet potatoes. Works really well for me.

      • Woohoo! I am excited to try this. I have a couple dehydrating books plus several generic preserving books, and I’ve been canning & freezing for decades, but never heard about dehydrating taters.

        Thanks so much!

    • Desert Fox says:

      I recently bought a packet of minestrony soup mix, and reading the ingredients, which had dehydrated carrots, bell peppers, onions, etc., I decided to experiment and dehydrated those vegetables to try to put together my own soup mix. I just cut the carrots by thin rounds, the peppers by small strips, the onions..small bits and it took about 3-4 hours of dehydration. I turned off my dehydrator and opening each layer to allow air to flow thru, I left it overnight for any moisture to evaporate and voila’. I put each veggie in its own canning jar and store it in a cool place until I need it. Make sure you check it every now and then to make sure they are still fresh and dried.

      I found that by keeping them separated, I can use them in other dishes, like scrambled eggs, stews.

  3. Great article Doc! I do have a questoin though about the program you are on…

    is it the same as/similar to Dr. Esselstyn’s heart disease diet from his book?

    • Ozark Flower Lady says:

      It is the Dr. Esselstyn program. Love it!!!

      • Ozark Flower Lady says:

        With the dishes my sisters and cousins have come up with, I am not even missing meat. The good news for me is I have always put back for “winter” so the stress factor is not great for me. I began a propagation business at the age of 71 and can now put all those gardening skills to work for the family. I was born to teach and am now still the teacher. I love teaching new gardeners. Even as as a master gardener, I still bought Marjory’s DVDs and found a couple of new tricks up my sleeve.

  4. Thanks for the info.

    Although I am not Vegan, you might think so after looking at our preps. Meat is there, but most of that is in TVP (which is not meat). Our plan is to use meat an a seasoning more than a main staple of our diet, especially at 1st. I’m not against meat, I love it especially chicken, but putting it up without canning it myself is very expensive for long term storage (FD and DH).

    • Ozark Flower Lady says:

      I also have a lot of TVP. I buy in 5 pound bags; two bags to the box at my health food store. I will need to have chickens and rabbits for the family for eggs and meat. I will use the litter from both to keep improving the garden.

  5. Hey Doc,
    Thanks for the article. I also live in NW Arkansas. We inherited two apple trees on our property when we bought it and I am looking to add more fruit trees this spring so I enjoyed hearing what you were getting ready to plant.

  6. Hey Doc,
    I am glad you are feeling so much better!
    I eat mostly vegetarian, but love my eggs and dairy so much. After butchering so much meat all the time, I have kinda lost my taste for it. I cook it everyday for my carnivorous family though.

    I eat very little soy, and only what I grow. Soy has become so toxic because of Monsanto, it is drenched in Round UP repeatedly. I refuse to eat anything that has it listed as an ingredient.

    Have you tried Quinoa? Organic Quinoa is expensive in the store, but one of the highest protein grains. I love it. I will be growing it for the first time this year along with other grains like millet.
    My favorite bean is the Anasazi Bean. I eat them almost everyday. Like a pinto, but sweeter.
    How about seeds and nuts? Are you allowed to eat those?
    Maintaining a Vegan diet is going to be a huge challenge if you have a bad crop year.
    A humble suggestion: When you have enough time between Doctor visits I would experiment with small amounts of high protein low fat meat like your rabbit. Only a couple oz. here and there.
    Do your tests to see when/if it changes your results.
    Being able to suppliment small amounts of meat protein in a stressful SHTF situation to stay healthy might offset the cost of a few cholesterol points.
    Many blessings to you.

    • swt'tater says:

      sunflower seeds, are good : pumpkin, squash seeds..also high in trace minerals, and esp. good for men.
      If you get a chance try anasazi beans and my family love cranberry beans as well.

  7. swt'tater says:

    I started dehydrating with the veggies that don’t require blanching. squash, okra, even cukes can be dehydrated and added to soups…they can be eaten as veggie chips.
    Thanks for this article, I you have been doing for years what we are just beginning…putting up most of our food supply..Your experience and lessons learned enrich us all.
    We are blessed to be visited by all kinds of wildlife ..protein on the foot. We have made attempts to protect with electric fencing,without the effectiveness we need.( not effective to protect from the small deer or the coons).. Our raised beds will be fenced with a yard wire, some with chicken wire and roofed.with the same to keep out flying predators as well.

  8. Rod Zeigler says:

    I too have the ailments you described and will investigate your program more thoroughly. I am not vegan or vegetarian by any stretch, but have cut way back on my red meat intake. I too have thought about what a vegan would do post apocalypse and have come to the following thought. If there is hunger, eat whatever is available. There is some thought that a lot of what we perceive as negative reactions to food are actually reactions to those things introduced into the food during growing and processing. A natural food source is what the human race grew and thrived on. We also performed hard, physical work during the day which helped in many ways. Now, in general, are sedentary and consuming a lot of chemicals. No wonder we are sick. Eating locally grown food, post apocalypse, may be the best thing will happen to us!

    • Ozark Flower Lady says:

      If you have diabetes and depend on meds, you will have a definite disadvantage if the SHTF. The Esselstyn program is discussed online plus his book is the Prevention and Cure of Heart Disease. I made the change in one day as I was never much into the high meat diet. Some use a 30 day plan developed by Dr. Esselstyn’s son, Rip, which also does a great job of learning the program. If we have chronic medical conditions we can change, now is the time to do it. Getting medication may become impossible and could cause many to lose their lives. Like I said, “Get healthy and then stay with the program.”

  9. MountainSurvivor says:

    You have your plate full and you are a true inspiration not only because of your wisdom but your thoughtfulness as well. Last month I ventured to try coconut-almond milk for the first time and it was light and delicious, I have been adding 1+cups of it to a morning shake five to six days a week, and I’ve been wondering what I am going to use when tshtf and there isn’t any more on the store’s shelves. I regularly use Food Grade DE for pet fur and certain bug problems but had no way of judging how much to use in food buckets. Thanks for making my day, Doc!

  10. What’s good way to improve on your singing voice without taking expensive voice lessons?)i(I have no idea what the average price for drum lessons are. Any help would be greatly appreciated..

  11. Grandpappy says:

    Have you tried sprouting beans?
    This is supposed to add to the nutritional value, increasing the food supply. I’m trying to get with the “Nourishing Traditions” concepts of Sally Fallon, and wonder if there might be a connection with Dr. ‘E’s program, or the two might complement one another.

  12. For dry ice – have you tried your local Walmart? Our closest one in Pocahontas sells dry ice in the same cubby as the customer service at the front of the store. The Jonesboro store also sells in a similar location. It is a bit harder to find in winter but very easy in summer. I was surprised to see it sold – it looks like a lonely little deep freeze with a sign on the flat top.

  13. Suburban Housewife says:

    I am so glad to see this post. Thank you. I am envious of your garden and your skills!! I have to rely on my farmers markets for now.

    My DH and I watched “Forks Over Knives” and also “Food Inc” on Netflix about a year ago and became over night “vegans”. Not the political militant PETA kind – just the kind that care about our health. Even though I ate super healthy before – I still had high numbers in my blood work – they dropped like 28 points in 2-3 month. My cardiologist was impressed – said it would be unusual to have that kind of improvement even on Rx meds. I am happy eating this way – the DH will occasionally eat some meat or fish if he knows where it came from and how it was raised. We both travel quite a bit and I find it a challenge to stay vegan in restaurants in the US, but I try. Unfortunately – it’s so much safer and healthier to eat in Europe than here – (that should not be the case!!)

    One of my concerns in a SHTF scenario is getting complete nutrition. I’m not worried about protein – there is plenty in the veggies/beans/grains – but I am concerned about sources of B12. It’s my understanding that the only source is meat, and I haven’t found too much info about it or any alternatives for it – but then again I haven’t had a lot of time lately to really search deeply.

    I take sub-lingul B12 now. But those won’t always be available – then what? Suggestions?

  14. Have you looked into Oxygen absorbers sealed in with your grains and beans (and nuts and whatever)? that would prevent them going rancid.

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