Now that you have an idea that MREs (Meals, Ready-to-Eat) are not only necessarily used by the US military. MREs are also available for civilian consumption, having found their way into bug out bags and emergency food pantries.
MREs have come a long way. The number of dishes has expanded and the meals have become more varied. MREs have been in continuous development since their introduction.
As consumers, our food tastes and preferences are varied depending on health, religion, activism, or any other reason. Out of the 240 million adults (18+) in the US, around eight million are vegetarians, including one million vegans. Several surveys indicate that the needs of people interested in vegetarian and vegan meals differ. For example, some consumers may prefer completely vegan meals that are also, gluten-free, low-sodium, locally grown, organic, kosher, etc.
There are vegetarian and vegan meals options for emergencies. But the US military typically doesn’t provide plant-based meals. The Defense Logistics Agency (DLA), a combat support arm of the US Department of Defense that decides what goes in MRE menus, confirmed that no MREs are vegan so far, but declined to explain why. The DLA also confirmed that four of the 24 MRE options are vegetarian.
Several food manufacturers produce and supply MREs for the US military. In addition to military MREs, these manufacturers produce civilian MREs. While there is a growing number of companies offering civilian vegetarian and vegan MRE options these days, these options are not as many as what is available for the military. So, finding a perfectly vegan MRE could be challenging for someone with too many requirements, such as those mentioned above.
While vegan MRE options are few and far between, there are individual items found in various civilian MRE food kits that vegetarians or vegans can (and have to) consume.
- Peanut butter (smooth or chunky)
- Dried fruits, typically raisins
- Toaster pastry
- Oatmeal cookie
- Fig bar
- Shortbread cookie
- Potatoes, au gratin
- Fried rice
- Black beans in sauce
- Nut raisin mix
- Grape jelly
- Instant coffee
- Beverage base
- Hot beverage bag
- Apple maple oatmeal
- Apple pieces in spiced sauce
- High-energy bars
- Pasta with garden vegetables in tomato sauce
- Non-dairy creamer
- Dry fruit mix
- Corn nuggets
- Roasted or toasted corn nuts
- Vegetarian chili
- Cheese tortellini (non-dairy)
- Vegetable lasagna
You may find some vegetarian and completely wholly vegan and plant-based MRE items and even vegetarian and vegan MRE kits such as:
- Vegan Chili
- Vegetarian taco pasta
SOS Survival Products:
- Vegan MRE Meals 3-Day Food Supply Bucket (one per person) – so far, the ONLY completely vegan MRE kit.
- 3 oatmeal with peanut butter and raisins
- 2 pad Thais
- 1 Cuban coconut rice and black beans
- 1 Louisiana red beans and rice
- 1 Three Sisters stew
- 1 Three Amigos veggie stew
- Vegetarian chili
- Cheese tortellini
- Pasta marinara with veggie crumbles
- Sides and snacks (such as nut raisin mix, dry fruit, high-energy bar, sugar cookies, cracker, tortillas)
SurePak 12 Meals (Vegetarian) – Each meal kit may include the following:
- Vegetable barley stew
- Cheese tortellini
- Lentil stew (depending on the kit)
- Vegetable Lasagna (depending on the kit)
- Bread item
- Beverage powder
- Tools (ration heater, spoon, moist towelette)
The company is known for its self-heating portable food packs available in various flavor options. It has some vegetarian options, such as:
- Cheese tortellini in tomato sauce
- Maple brown sugar oatmeal
- Cheese pizza with sauce
- Molten brownie
Finding a completely civilian vegan MRE meal is pretty tough, as you can see from the choices above. It looks like there are more vegetarian options than vegan ones.
When in a SHTF situation, vegans are worried about losing calories. So, the alternative is to buy rice, beans, lentils, quinoa, chickpeas, oats, etc., in bulk. They are cheaper and will get vegans through a natural disaster with a full belly and adequate nutrition. However, they are not “ready-to-eat” as they require preparation and cooking.
Another alternative is buying packaged and prepared foods, such as canned soups, Loma Linda meals, dried soup mixes, shelf-stable tofu, textured vegetable protein, and milk alternatives (oat milk, almond milk, etc.). But some of them may also require preparation and cooking.
To survive as a vegetarian or vegan in an SHTF situation is pretty tough. So, learn to be realistic especially when you’re expected to survive in a longer-term SHTF scenario. If that happens, you won’t just have the luxury to refuse meat, dairy, butter, or any animal-based food product. It’s faster and more calorie-efficient to eat complete protein, such as meat or poultry. You can hunt in the morning and get a deer or pheasant for the entire day. Or you can toil for an entire season to grow vegetables or forage all day for only a few berries. How long you can survive during a disaster depends on your emergency meal choices.
Check out this guide to different types of MREs.