A question popped up on our Facebook page of how a real food-oriented (or Paleo) person might survive in the context of an apocalyptic Zombie Invasion. Upon giving it some thought, we realized this was an important question to address. All that fresh food in our household won’t last us long, and we aren’t about to abandon our health (and our ideals) in favor of the closest bag of Doritos, right?
As a result, we believe we owe it to our readers to share our plan for survival when the undead come calling. Here’s hoping we never need it.
Survival in a Zombie Apocalypse Starts With Food
The late Napoleon Bonaparte once said, “An army marches on its stomach,” and we agree. The key to survival in a Zombie Invasion is proper nutrition. You need to be able to count on your body for consistent energy, clear thinking, and stable moods— all things that come from fueling yourself with Good Food. (If you haven’t read our new book, It Starts With Food, yet, your first preparative task is to do so immediately.)
Don’t Eat This
Some, in an apocalyptic situation such as this, might resort to cannibalism. However, it’s safe to assume that cannibalism just isn’t an option here. The most abundant source of food—the undead—are decidedly off limits if you want to avoid joining their ranks.
Also off limits for Good Food enthusiasts are the perpetually “fresh” offerings one might find on the shelves of a convenience store. A Twinkie, can of Rock Star, or Oreo snack-pack might be awfully tempting when you’re on the run from the groaning hordes, but can you really afford to make that many bathroom stops along the way? Plus, the blood sugar and hormonal dysfunction that comes along with all of that junk food will leave you feeling tired, sluggish, cranky, and foggy—and you can’t afford to be anything but alert and ready for action.
Some folks will advise you to stock up on grains, beans, flours, and various food-like-products-in-cans, but we don’t think it’s necessary to go to those lengths to survive. (And the hit to your immune system from eating all those grains and legumes means you’ll be less likely to fight off the minor chomping you received from your neighbor’s undead-but-still-surly teenager.) Yes, with proper planning and preparation, we are confident you can make it through the Zombie Apocalypse without having to rely on foods that make you less healthy.
Eat This Instead
Experts recommend that you have between 1,500- 2,000 calories worth of food per day available for each adult in the household. This might seem a little inadequate for those on the larger side of the spectrum, but in this situation a little calorie restriction (without malnutrition) might not be a terrible idea. (Shoot, it may even be beneficial.)
Create your basic Zombie Survival Stockpile with the following items:
Duh. As much as you can get your hands on.
Fat is a dense source of calories and should play a big role in your survival food stores. It can be especially helpful to children, the elderly, or injured members of your party who may not be able to consume enough food volume to supply them with adequate energy.
- Animal fats: Fresh fats like lard, tallow, or duck fat can be a valuable asset, but need to be kept refrigerated or frozen until needed. Once thawed, their shelf life is only around three months, so eat these up first, because your electricity won’t be around forever.
- Butters: Salted butter and ghee will store for six months to two years if unopened and kept cool. (Don’t worry about clarifying your butter, as only the most dedicated would attempt a Whole30 during the Zombie Apocalypse.) Eat these first, before the power goes.
- Oils: If stored properly, oils (like coconut) will keep for up to two years before beginning to oxidize. Buy fats in opaque containers and store in dark places to keep out light and heat. Keep them cooler than room temperature (about 70 F), or refrigerate them, if your power is still on.
- Coconut milk: Coconut milk is not only a good fat source, but it is also rich in magnesium—which can help with muscle cramping and soreness after a day of running from reanimated corpses. When stored at room temperature, an unopened can of coconut milk has a shelf life of three years.
- Nuts and seeds: Nuts and seeds are a good way to get vital fats and nutrients in a convenient, easy-to-carry package. (And worrying about your 6:3 ratio is kind of silly when you’ve got the undead at your door.) Find a cache unshelled—in their natural state, they can be stored in a cool, dry place for six months.
- Meat: We know you’ve got lots of healthy meat in your freezer—and hopefully, you’ve thought ahead and stocked up on propane or charcoal for your grill. Eat this stuff first, as (we hate to beat a dead horse) your power could go out at any minute.
- Organ meats: Zombies don’t groan “graaaaaiiiinnnsss,” they groan “braaaaaiiiinnnsss”—and for good reason. The brain is the most nutrient-dense organ in the body of living creatures. While we would not suggest that you snack on the brains of other humans (or zombies), consider freezing some cow or lamb organ meats for extra nutrition early on in your ordeal.
- Canned proteins: Tuna, salmon, and chicken have shelf lives of over five years. While we’d advise you to look for brands without a bunch of added ingredients, the small amount of soy that can be found in most brands shouldn’t pose as much of a health risk as the hungry undead running around outside.
- Dried meats: Beef jerky can have a shelf life of up to two years. Jerky-based meal kits, such as 100% grass-fed, organic, vacuum-sealed Primal Pacs, are the perfect option for your stockroom.
- Protein powders: These processed proteins are another good source of emergency fuel. They have a shelf life of at least a year (often more, if you keep the containers closed tightly and in a cool, dark place), and can be easily mixed with water, juice, canned veggies, or baby food. If you know you tolerate dairy well (good thing you did a Whole30, right?) pick up some SFH grass-fed whey protein, or stick with egg white protein from NOW Foods.
- Dried vegetables: These can be eaten dry or added to cooked meals to rehydrate. Opt for nutrient dense veggies – sweet potatoes, butternut squash, beets – to maximize the benefit you’ll get from a small amount of food. Properly sealed dried veggies should keep for eight to ten years.
- Dried fruit: Nature’s candy can be a ray of sunshine on an especially dark day. The thought of a “treat” (and all that concentrated energy) may give you a psychological boost, and dried fruits are easy to store and take with you on the road. Don’t worry about feeding your Sugar Dragon here – you’ve got bigger battles to fight. Most dried fruits will keep for about five years.
- Baby food: Get your veggies without having to cook or heat. Most baby foods will keep unopened for a year. Stock up on veggies and fruits, but watch out for added cereals. (In terms of scariness: gluten > zombies.)
- Canned vegetables: Another good source of vital nutrients (and carbs). High-acid canned foods such as tomatoes can be stored on the shelf for a year or two if cans are kept in cool, dry, clean places. Low-acid canned foods can be stored on the shelf for two to five years.
Just Because the Zombies are Coming…
We’ve spent a lot of time talking about what you’re going to eat when the undead come calling, but if you’ve read up on our 9 Factors then you know that your health depends on more than just nutrition. Good Food alone won’t carry you through the invasion, so here are some ideas on how to keep yourself holistically healthy and improve your chances of survival.
Sleep is essential for everything from hormone regulation to injury rehabilitation. While it might be tempting to fight the urge to rest, sleeping a bit now is far preferable to catching the permanent sleep of the undead if you’re too tired to evade or destroy.
Now’s not the time to dive face-first into that case of whiskey you found in your neighbor’s basement. Just staying alive in the face of a Zombie Invasion is going to take significant awareness, effort, and alertness on your part, so plan your indulgences intelligently.
Running from, avoiding, and fighting zombies in an all-out effort to save your life and your loved ones just about covers it as far as exercise goes. If you find yourself needing extra exercise, either (a) you’re a CrossFitter— the only group crazy enough to plan a WOD during a Zombie invasion, or (b) you probably haven’t been pulling your weight, and you’re likely going to be the first one the group sacrifices to the zombie hordes.
Running for your life, fighting for survival, and potentially beheading gangs of the living-impaired can be kind of overwhelming, so practice positive thinking. When you’re in the middle of a Zombie Apocalypse, it can be really tempting to dwell on the negative. Sure, you’re besieged by the undead on all sides, you probably had to decapitate a neighbor for the sake of your own survival, and you’re running short on booze. But there has to be a bright side, right?
You can consider the day-to-day functions of survival – finding food, moving from place to place, etc. – your active recovery. You’re welcome.
In a ZA situation, you’re going to have to learn how to take care of the injured and ill yourself. Check out this PDF on wilderness first aid for basic procedures for dealing with injuries in a survival situation, and this page on natural remedies from the Zombie Preparedness Initiative.
Look at the Zombie Invasion situation as an opportunity to better yourself as a person. For example, if you’d like to practice generosity, look for ways to be generous with your fellow survivors. Perhaps you share some of your raisins, give up an extra pair of socks, or refrain from using the laziest member of the group as a human shield.
Fun and Play
Find ways to turn your daily activities into games, and engage in some healthy competition with your fellow survivors. Challenge yourself to improve your axe-throwing accuracy, see how long you can make that cup of dried egg whites last, or behead one more zombie tomorrow than you did today.
For more information on Zombie Theory and how you can best survive the Zombie Apocalypse, check out these resources:
- Are you really prepared? Take this Zombie Survival Test.*
- Origins: Influenza + Rabies or Mad Cow Disease
- The Zombie Survival Guide, by Max Brooks
- Zombie proof house
Do you have additional zombie survival tips for Paleo people? Share them in comments.
*Whole9′s results? We have only a 50% likelihood of surviving the Zombie Apocalypse. Our lack of experience with automatic firearms and Resident Evil 4 probably hurt us.