If you’re planning a multi-day backpacking trip, you may be wondering what you’re going to eat.
You may also have heard about ultralight backpacking and how carrying less weight helps you hike faster, more comfortably, and be less prone to injury in the wilderness. But with all the food you’re sure to need on the trail, how are you going to cut down on your pack weight?
Unless you bring along lots of heavy food items, how will you avoid getting hungry? After all, you’ll be exercising all day long.
It’s easy. Just eat vegan! Avoiding animal products is one of the best ways to lighten your load and stay healthy on the trail. Here are three reasons why:
1. Vegan dishes are lightweight.
Among the most widely-favored ultralight backpacking “methods” is bringing dried food you can re-hydrate in boiling water. Such meals simply weigh less than cooked food and can be prepared just about anywhere.
Thankfully, vegan choices make for some of the best lightweight, dried options available for backpackers.
Try a couscous, polenta, and walnut dish with spices. Or how about macaroni with dried vegan “cheese” sauce? TrailCooking.com has several vegan trail recipes you can choose from, most of which are easy to prepare by simply boiling some water on your camping stove and pouring in the goods.
2. Vegan meals improve “trail health.”
Let’s face it: If you’re backpacking in the mountains for any extended period of time, you need calories. And you need lots of them:
- Complex Carbohydrates
- Simple Carbohydrates
You’ll require a healthy helping of all these, and vegan options can easily help you get them. Simply re-hydrating a Ziploc baggie full of instant rice and dried lentils will provide you with all of these dietary essentials, especially if you grind up some walnuts and sunflower seeds (use a coffee grinder!) to sprinkle on top.
And don’t forget about GORP – good ole’ raisins and peanuts. Mix your favorite nuts and dried fruits together in bag, and enjoy them all day long while you hike.
3. There’s less mess.
Dried, pre-prepared vegan meals won’t melt in their wrappers like junk food tends to do. They also won’t drip sugary stuff all over your pack and clothes.
If you’ve ever hiked in bear country, you’ll agree that having a backpack that doesn’t smell like chocolate makes you feel a whole lot safer at night. Think of a half-eaten candy bar you’ve kept in your pocket on a hot day. Messy? You bet.
Vegan trail food, on the other hand, is clean. Just pour the dried mix into boiling water, stir it, and you’re done. Your only cleanup duty is repacking an empty Ziploc bag into your pack. You can even rinse it out and reuse it on your next hike.
If you’ve never eaten vegan on the trail, why not give it a try? You’ll love how eating dried food shaves a few extra pounds off your pack weight. And you’ll feel good following a low-impact, environmentally-sustainable trail diet.
Adam Green is a freelance writer and ultralight backpacking aficionado. He wrote this article on behalf of Full Circle, a Seattle CSA specializing in organic produce delivery. Follow him on Twitter @IAmAdamGreen.
Image Credit: Creative Commons photo by fortherock