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Vegan People
Respecting All Animals
Vegan Wilderness Survival? 
17th-Sep-2013 08:28 pm
So, this has been on my mind for years now and so I thought I'd ask this community about it, since y'all seem active and friendly about stuff.

Okay, to preface this, I believe that wilderness survival vegan-style, is totally doable. However, I can't back that up with experience or links to other people's experiences. And that's what bothers me. Not because it makes me doubt the feasibility of vegan wildness survival, but because I think we're lacking in a valuable resource of collective knowledge.

Now, there are a lot of websites and YouTube channels with information related to wilderness survival that is applicable to vegans. Edible and medicinal plants, fire-making skill, shelter, even tracking (you don't have to harm what you track, animals can teach you a lot in the wilderness, such as where to find food and water or what to avoid, even how to minimize your impact on the local ecosystem), etc. Offline in the woods, there are survival courses that allow vegans, but those are still carnocentric.

If you feel like being ethical about things, you're not gonna want to go because of the exploitation. Even just have some moral fibre, you'll be bummed, probably even nauseous. And even if none of that applies, time is being wasted by being focused on learning things not relevant to us (unless you intend to abandon veganism at the first sign of danger, like the straw-vegan in the arguments about apocalyptic scenarios) and possibly not focused on learning other skills that might benefit us more (skills a carnocentric instructor might not know, even).

So I guess my question is multipart:
Does anyone know of any vegan-centric survival course/repositories of info?
Is anyone interested in making such a thing happen? I think it could be a cool blending of ancient skills and herblore along with modern knowledge.
Does anyone have any questions about such things?
18th-Sep-2013 03:48 am (UTC)
First thing I thought of was foraging with the "Wildman" Steve Brill: he's all about medicinal and wild edible plants.

He leads very popular foraging classes in Central Park.
18th-Sep-2013 04:47 pm (UTC)
Sweet! That looks really useful - part of this project (it's turning into a project for me) is putting together a book list and Brill is definitely going on it!

These books might come in hand for planning an extended wildness trip, food-wise (no harm in bringing food, I'm not going to assume the nightmare scenario of going into the wilderness totally unprepared):
Another Fork in the Trail: Vegetarian and Vegan Recipes for the Backcountry by Laurie Ann March
Lipsmackin' Vegetarian Backpackin' by Christine Conners
Kristen Suzanne's EASY Raw Vegan Dehydrating: Delicious & Easy Raw Food Recipes for Dehydrating Fruits, Vegetables, Nuts, Seeds, Pancakes, Crackers, Breads, Granola, Bars & Wraps by Kristen Suzanne
Vegan Unplugged: A Pantry Cuisine Cookbook and Survival Guide Paperback by Jon Robertson
Also, some ideas on this site, though not vegan-specific/

Two links I know of regarding useful wild plants are:
The University of Michigan's Native American Ethnobotany Database
and the USDA's PLANTS Database

Something I haven't had time to examin is this somewhat paranoid survival site. Part of why I'm interested in this project is separating the paranoid crap that makes everyone associate survival with survivalism/prepping - so maybe, ironically, military survival manuals would be better than preppers/survivalists interpreting them. Again, I want to reiterate that this isn't about prepping, as this actually kind of covers that.
18th-Sep-2013 04:09 am (UTC)
My 2 cents on wilderness survival...

Any survival course that purports to be all encompassing isn't.

When I get into something, I commit every waking moment I can spare feeding my brain with that information. As a stay at home mom with kids in diapers, a good bit of that is the ability to listen to audio books and podcasts. I don't, necessarily, get the time to do anything with the information I acquire, most of it amounts to zero actual actions, but I listen to a lot of things.

I've gone down the survivalist rabbit hole (there's more than one Mad Hatter down there). Anyone who tells you they can teach you everything you will ever need to know about surviving in the wilderness in a weekend, or in 2 hours a week for 8 weeks, is talking out their ass. Anyone who truly is an expert in a survival skill (I said "a" as in singular) will tell you (if they're capable of being honest) they're really, really good at this thing, and passable at that thing, and are pretty well clueless at this other thing, etc. Most broad survival experts will make pretty similar admissions, though their general level of competency will be higher across more disciplines and (and here's the kicker) they have surrounded themselves with stuff or other people with skills to compensate for their weaknesses.

Might there exist a truly thorough course of wilderness survival? Sure, but everything I've ever seen marketed really should be retitled "how to make you feel secure enough to not freak out and stay alive for 3-7 days if you ever get lost in the woods and we have to send a search party, as long as you've got the right gear that we were kind enough to sell to you." Not that there's anything wrong with that, and not that it's not a good start.

I would suggest you decide what skills you'll need, list them in order of importance, and find a way to bang them out. Your first priority should be immediate personal safety, then clean drinking water. After that, it depends upon your survival scenario. "Lost in the wood awaiting rescue" is a very different set of skills to "I'm going to live off the land and withdraw from society." It's also a very different list of stuff you'll want to acquire.

Regarding the Mad Hatter: Survivalists have a good bit of cross over with preppers, and even permaculturists. There's a good bit of cross over with libertarians, gun lovers, and general haters of government. I am very accepting that others have views that I think are extreme or highly improbable, and every once in a while even I question whether some of these people are members of the tin-foil hat club.
18th-Sep-2013 04:25 pm (UTC)
Err, I'm not talking about a comprehensive course, though... just a vegan-specific one. Nor am I talking about survivalists. Preppers and off-gridders may find the info I'm trying to compile useful, but it's NOT aimed at them so much as vegans who might find themselves in a car crash or vegans who want to 'rough it' for a bit. A lot of what I'm thinking of are basic skills - making a fire, finding and purifying water, what to eat and not eat, where to set up camp, etc. Most survival courses I've seen and participated in (in college) seem to be springboards to the type of individualized learning you're talking about. And there are specialized courses, not just generalized ones... but that's all tangential to what I'm getting at here and I'd appreciate it if we don't derail further.

I'm not even asking you for suggestions on how to survive, unless you feel like writing something detailed and original relating to what I'm asking about. I'm asking you for links to resources and people that can help other people doing so. Something we can put together and point curious vegans at. Your suggestion to, "decide what skills you'll need, list them in order of importance, and find a way to bang them out," is unhelpful for a number of reasons. Please reread my post instead of telling me things I'm already aware of or assuming I'm talking about survivalists/preppers, lol.

And since you claim to have some knowledge of wilderness survival, how about you share some links and such, please? Maybe book recommendations? While I agree about the paranoia inherent in survivalists, that's really off-topic from what I'm trying to get at here :(
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