Sunday, August 1, 2010

Vegan Camping

Here were my accommo-
dations earlier this summer,
when I went hiking in New
Hampshire's White Moun-
tains. While it's fun to munch
on sheep sorrel and ripe
blueberries & huckleberries
along the trail, that isn't
sufficient for all of one's
meals. So what can you pack that's vegan?

If you're just hiking for a day or two, you can certainly get by with a variety of energy bars. Our faves include Clif Bars (and other bars made by Clif like Luna & ZBar) and Raw Revolution. Also dried fruit and fruit leather, nuts, & crackers. And plenty of water of course.

But for more exciting meals, what's available as far as prepackaged nonperishable vegan foods? There are lots of packet meals available.
I like Tasty Bite Indian meals the best. They are really hearty, with plenty of protein and calories, needed for a long day in the mountains. They say right on the package which ones are vegan.
Enertia trail foods have some vegan options, like Sundried Tomato Pesto pasta, Rainier Rice, &Veggie Pizza Pasta.
Mountain House is a very popular brand of trail meals, but none of the ones I've seen are vegan, though they have vegetarian options if you are not vegan. They do have some canned vegetables for camping that have a very long shelf life, so they are also good for emergency storage use. And the plain corn, peas, & beans also come in pouches for camping.
Backpacker's Pantry doesn't provide much for vegans either. There is one nice Asian Curried Stirfry, a Spicy Thai Peanut Sauce over rice, a Japanese Noodle Bowl. But their Tofu Scramble contains both milk and eggs...huh? Why?? There are some organic options, but they could really use more vegan fare, which would be easily accomplished by omitting the unnecessary milk products in many of their meals. While browsing at REI, I came across a wonderful looking Katmandu Curry with Lentils and Potatoes, but in the ingredients it lists "vitamin supplement" with no other I'll have to research that one further to see what that contains before declaring it safe for vegans.
MaryJanesFarm makes a line of organic camping foods. They are pricier, but a few are vegan: Lentils, Rice & Indian Spice, Kettle Chili, and Wild Forest Mushroom Couscous.
Steer clear of Richmoor Natural High products. There is little for vegetarians, and nothing for vegans. Meals that sound like they might be contain milk products like Butter Buds, bleh.

Other options include meals that require adding water, (preferably hot water or you'll be waiting awhile for the contents of some to soften), that can be purchased at most grocery stores. Thai Kitchen, Simply Asia, or any of the pre-cooked shelf-stable pasta & sauce products available.

But what if you want to save money, packaging, and omit undesirable preservatives? You can easily make your own camping food. There are many, many books available online with recipes ranging from a few simple ingredients to gourmet fare. Some require just adding water, other are more involved, and some include foraged ingredients you can find on the trails. Check out your favourite online retailer and browse through the array of titles. Or you can look online for camping recipes. One of my favourites (with a book currently in the making) is TrailCooking or FreezerBagCooking. The vegetarian recipes are not always vegan, but since you're making these yourself, it's easy to change them to suit your diet and palate.
While some people shy away from using plastics, if you're hiking for any length of time you need to be concerned about the weight of your pack. Plastic is a must, though you can bring along a lightweight pot to cook in so that you're not cooking in plastic, which is where chemicals leaching from certain plastics are the biggest concern.

Unless you're in a campground with designated campfire areas, or at a campsite on the trail that has a safe area for a fire, it is more likely you will be cooking on a camping stove. But if you're just aiming to heat water for tea, soup, oatmeal or pasta do you really want to pack an expensive camping stove and fuel? Here's a fantastic do-it-yourself solution: the soda can stove. We bought a 6 pack of natural black cherry soda for ours.

If you have a dehydrator, you can save a ton by prepping lightweight food ahead of time, making healthy snacks of dried fruits & veggies, or making trays of fruit leather.

For high-energy snacking,
I brought along some of
my favourites for my day
in the mountains. I was
climbing two 3,000+ footers
with some rock scrambling,
so I made sure to bring
enough for the entire day
just in case, plus a few granola
bars at the bottom of my
pack for emergencies.

I rarely ever eat soy jerky, but I've tried quite a few brands because I like to bring some along on bigger hikes. It really hits the spot and replenishes the body with needed sodium too. The one I prefer is made by Tasty Eats. I particularly like the smoky flavours.

I brought along a small loaf of bread. But whether you are toting bread, crackers, pretzels, chips or whatever, there is nothing better in the world in my opinion than a tin of Tartex. It is a delicious vegetarian pate in small cans with pull tops. Unfortunately it is imported from Europe and is rather pricy, but so worth it for a treat on the trails. I order mine online from one of the many vegan grocers around the country, always checking to see who has the lowest price at the time.

And here are few highlights of that day's hike...unfortunately no amazing views due to bad weather:

So what are your favourite
foods to pack while camping?


The 3 Foragers said...

Robert loves that Tartex, but I think it smells like canned cat food. We take biscuits while travelling anywhere. I do make them with butter. Then we can add a slice of apple, cheese or mustard to amke a quick sandwich.

Suki said...

That is so cool you went hiking by yourself! I dig your little tent also.

I think if I were going camping I would take some Ramen noodles. There's all kinds of vegan flavors and they're cheap (maybe not exactly healthy but still good!).