Monday, February 7, 2011

Vegan Backpacking #2

A while back I wrote a post about vegan backpacking featuring a sample menu for a three day trek. I've received interest and positive feedback for that post, so I thought I'd do another vegan backpacking post, only this time I'll put up what I brought on a shorter hike (only two days and just under 20 miles) that I took in the desert during a period of limited water availability.

When I go backpacking, I always bring a few food items that may need to be reconstituted (oatmeal, tea), but on some desert trips you can't rely too heavily on foods that require water. Luckily for us, we found water on the hike I describe and that's reflected here. I'm also a little burnt out on energy bars, even my beloved Mint Chocolate Clif Bars and Nutz Over Chocolate Luna Bars (Yes, I'm a man who eats Luna Bars...), so this menu includes the secondary challenge of excluding store bought energy bars.

Contrary to some common myths, a proper vegan diet provides plenty of protein, calcium, and even vitamin B12. I can fuel a backpacking trip as well as anyone without getting hungry. Here's how I did it:

Day 1:
Breakfast at home - Tofu scramble, toast with Vegemite, orange juice. Nutritional yeast in the tofu scramble and the yeast in the Vegemite gives me a huge boost of vitamin B as well as other nutrients.
In the pack - trail mix (peanuts, chocolate chips, cranberries, raisins, sunflower seeds, almonds)
1 Tofurky sandwich with hummus and Vegemite
1 almond butter and jelly sandwich
Tasty Eats Soy Jerky
Sqwincher Fast Pack x2
Date Rolls (recipe here)
Tasty Bites Bengal Lentils - These sorts of meals are available at most supermarkets. Trader Joe's has good ones, but visit your local Indian food store to find a huge variety of cheap vegan entrees. They come in a silver pouch. The idea is to boil the entire pouch which makes it heat up real quick. If you're short on water, you can ditch the pouch and heat the food up directly in your pot. These weigh a bit more than a dehydrated backpacking meal, but not much and they're tastier.
peppermint and eucalyptus tea

Day 2
Oatmeal - We did find lots of water, so I could make oatmeal and tea.
Yerba Mate - All the caffeine of coffee, not jitters!
More soy jerky
More trail mix
Sqwincher Fast Pack x2
Date rolls
Sunflower seed "tuna" sandwich (recipe here)
Dinner at home - Lovin' Hut!

This was a pretty short trip, but the you could carry a lot more of these types of foods and go for more time. The drawback is that carrying food that's not dehydrated is heavier; but in the desert you already need to carry a lot of water and worry about finding sufficient water to drink, so you don't want to have to rely on a water source to eat too.

Whether or not you're vegan, the Indian food store should be your friend before backpacking trips. They carry a lot of healthier prepared food items. Whole wheat Maggi - while not healthy per se - is a better option than Ramen and super light. They have a huge variety of ready-to-eat options in the silver pouches as well as dehydrated soups and curries. You can eliminate most of the packaging before your trip, too.


korn said...

Thanks for the post. As a fellow vegan I appreciate you posting. Was wondering what kind of vegan boots you have found for hiking...keep up the good work.

Eric said...

Glad you enjoyed the post. I've had a real hard time finding vegan hiking boots. I had a pair from before I was vegan for a long time, but when it came to find new ones, I was stumped. There are brands you can order online that are vegan, but who buys hiking boots without trying them on? The wrong boots could spell a terrible hike. I ended up getting a pair of Merrells that didn't claim to be vegan, but had "synthetic uppers."

korn said...

Thanks, Eric !