While most of the food I write about on this site is vegetarian, this page is strictly dedicated vegan backpacking food ideas. Whatever your reasons are for wanting to go vegan on the trail, I’m sure you’re well aware we can get all the protein we need from plant sources. I have done numerous trips eating strictly vegan and had plenty of energy to hike 12 mile days. Planning for a vegan backpacking trip can be a little more difficult and takes a little extra time, but once you start looking into the options you will see there are a lot of great ones!
- Instant oatmeal is a staple for most backpackers but is pretty bland unless you mix it up by adding some of your own fixings. I would stay away from flavored packets since they are full of sugar and additives. You can buy organic instant oats and package into small freezer bags. I always add chia seeds which are a power food and add fiber, protein, and Omega 3 fatty acids. Other good additions are almonds, walnuts, hemp hearts, dried fruit, salt, cinnamon, and unsweetened coconut flakes. Fruits that are good in oatmeal are dried blueberries, cranberries, or cherries.
- Bars – I know a lot of people like to pack up and get going in the mornings so they eat a cold breakfast.
- Nut Butters – I mix peanut butter and coconut oil and then to this mixture I add almonds, chia seeds, cacao nibs, and unsweetened coconut flakes. Then I just eat it by the spoonful. You could even add a little oatmeal or granola. Its packed with calories and keeps me going for hours. Of course you could also eat it on some crackers or a tortilla.
- Chia Seed Pudding – Mix some chia seeds with powdered coconut milk, honey, cinnamon and let sit overnight. In the morning top with fruit. The chia seeds turn sort of gelatinous (they contain no gelatin though!) and you end up with a pudding like substance that is actually quite delicious.
- Ancient Grain/whole grain instant hot cereals – These are good sources of protein and fiber and a little like oatmeal. Add some goodies to it, like chia seeds, cinnamon, coconut sugar, unsweetened coconut flakes, or freeze dried fruit to make it even more nutritious.
- Paleo Meals to Go surprisingly has some excellent vegan breakfasts with high quality ingredients. My favorite is the Cliffside Coconut Berry.
Vegan Lunches and Dinners
There are lots of different things you can do with vegan dinners. I think it is important to keep it simple. After a long day of hiking, the last thing I want to do is cook but I DO want a hot, healthy meal. That is why I prefer just add water meals or freezer bag meals.
- Instant couscous – You can repackage it in a freezer bag and add some freeze dried mushrooms, veggies, and spices. If you want to add protein you can add some soy curls or cheese. I always add about a tablespoon of olive oil to my for some healthy fats and extra calories.
- Black bean refried bean flakes – I tend to eat a lot of black beans and lentils in my day to day life and I like to incorporate these into backpacking too. The flakes are instant and do not require any cooking. Add some spices and pair with some rice and a tortilla.
- Lentils – I like lentils because they cook a lot faster than beans and I just think the taste is better. I like to add olive oil, freeze dried peas, and spices to mine.
- Dried soups – I tend to go with bean or lentil soup while backpacking because I find those the most filling. You can add some powdered butter, olive oil, or coconut oil for extra healthy fats and calories. Taste Adventure has some organic vegan soups sold in bulk that are delicious.
- Indian and Asian noodles – Most health food stores have this type of thing. I usually find them in individual cups and repackage them into freezer bags. Depending on calorie content, I will usually use two cups for one meal. Tasty Bite is a heavier but delicious option. Make sure you check labels because not all of their meals are vegan.
- Textured Soy Protein – Add some spices and TSP makes a great taco filling or sloppy joe. Or you can add it to other dishes such as couscous, quinoa, pasta, or rice for extra protein. It will rehydrate with cold water and only needs about 10 minutes to sit.
There are lots companies making freeze dried foods that offer vegan options. If you’re taking a short trip and want to keep things easy, go with ready made freeze dried foods.
Get Some Fresh Food on the Trail
One more cool thing I wanted to mention. If you are wanting to get more fresh produce into your diet while trekking up those mountains, look into growing your own sprouts on the trail. Sprouts are nutrition powerhouses and full of living enzymes. Its easier than you think!