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Backpacking Food List: Vegetarian
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Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Backpacking Food List: Vegetarian on 10/12/2005 02:49:27 MDT Print View

Companion forum thread to:

Backpacking Food List: Vegetarian

Tony Burnett
(tlbj6142) - F

Locale: OH--IO
Most trail meals are vegatarian... on 10/12/2005 07:40:00 MDT Print View

Good article...

Save for a packet of chicken, or tuna, each day, I'd be willing to bet that most of us are trail-vegatarians. And those packets are a bit heavy. Maybe going to an every other day plan isn't such a bad idea.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Backpacking Food List: Vegetarian on 10/12/2005 09:51:03 MDT Print View

really enjoyed that article. learned quite a bit & it was well written.

my question, which i'm sure can be dealt with rather easily, stems from the following quote:

"a person's needs for protein are easily met on a varied vegetarian diet: even plain whole wheat is about 13% protein, while raw broccoli is about 26%."

there's no doubt that the first part of that statement is true - or we'd be losin' vegetarians left and right to malnutrition. i believe, unless i am mistaken, that the percent figures refer to protein quantity. more info on the protein quality, particularly as relates to the suggested "Food List" in the article would be good. how much complete protein is provided by the combined food stuffs in the suggested "Food List"? [note: no need to provide a complete amino acid assay unless such info is readily handy.]

thanks again for taking the time to write such a fine article.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Re: Backpacking Food List: Vegetarian on 10/12/2005 14:44:50 MDT Print View

Good point Paul. I haven't read the article yet, but I'm looking forward to it as I am, myself, "semi-vegetarian". The semi part refers to the fact that I still eat fish and seafood. As you probably know, with most plant-based diets... you need to combine foods in order to get a complete protein... i.e... brown rice, beans and corn for instance. Quinoa is the only plant-based food I know of which is, apparently, a complete (or very nearly so) protein all on it's own. But I guess the point is, you don't have to eat meat to get protein. There is protein available from so many plant sources (not to mention eggs and dairy... which a large percentage of vegetarians eat) that really, as long as you have a healthy diet consisting of a wide variety of wholesome foods, you don't even have to worry about combining and such. That said, I'd be happy to see the "quality" info as well.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Sprouts! on 10/12/2005 15:08:52 MDT Print View

Ok... just read the article. Nice article. I didn't really learn much new... but that's because I've been a "pretend vegetarian" for the past few years (see above).

A few interesting tidbits though were the Moose Goo and the sprouts idea. I LOVE the sprouts idea!!!! That is brilliant!!! :)

Also, with regards to fresh food, I always take fresh food with me. It's worth every single ounce!!! Seriously. And I too find that I crave fresh food out there... even on the first day. Some things I've taken are apples (obviously), red plums, pears, carrots, brocolli, small potatoes (and salt), peas and snow peas. These are all very "sturdy" foods that will last just fine for days. I also take dip or hummus for the veggies... which likewise does fine without refrigeration. It sure beats jerky and trail mix :) Most of the veggies I just eat raw with dip... but I used the fresh peas in a home cooked and dried whole wheat mac & cheese dinner. Home cooked and dried combined with fresh food (and your snacks of course) is sooooo much better than space food and gummie bears :) Well... ok... the gummie bears are pretty good (although not strictly vegetarian because they contain geletin)... but you get my drift :)

Edited by davidlewis on 10/12/2005 15:12:18 MDT.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Re: Re: Backpacking Food List: Vegetarian on 10/12/2005 15:20:20 MDT Print View


you're absolutely right about the combo - that's supposed to be the key to obtaining "complete" protein (L.A.A. - limiting amino acid, and all that...).

an interesting "aside": i tried a lacto-vegetarian diet my last two yrs b/f being married. plain low-fat yogurt & skim milk - varied from 16 to 24 oz. per day, which was the "lacto-" part. stopped after marriage since my wife didn't share that diet.

i was not sick the entire two yrs (not even a cold), required noticeably less sleep (as compared to the 7hr i usually slept), had more energy, and no digestive issues. a 2-yr duration coincidence? don't know for sure. after reading the BPL article, i'm thinking of trying this diet again.

Ryan Jordan
(ryan) - BPL Staff - MLife

Locale: Greater Yellowstone
Re: Re: Re: Backpacking Food List: Vegetarian on 10/12/2005 15:21:57 MDT Print View

>> I am, myself, "semi-vegetarian". The semi part refers to the fact that I still eat fish and seafood.

Hey, me too David. I still eat beef.

OK OK OK OK that was bad. Couldn't resist though :)

Actually, we're all on this health food kick now that we are ummmm approaching something that is farther away from youth than middle age. So, been researching lots about different diets on and off the trail. Good discussions, this was a neat article by Amy.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Sprouts! on 10/12/2005 15:28:57 MDT Print View


here's one to add to your list: the Japanese call it Edamame, and the Chinese call it Mao Toh: steamed green soybeans (still in the pod). add some salt to the outside of the pods (you don't eat the pods). supposedly, adding rice to it completes the protein. put a big bowl in front of me & i don't care if it takes longer for the sushi & sashime to arrive at the table.

Edited by pj on 10/12/2005 15:33:23 MDT.

Mark Hamilton
(solstice) - F
Vegetarian Protein Myth on 10/12/2005 16:04:51 MDT Print View

It is a very popular but untrue myth that you need to combine different plant foods to form complete proteins. This idea was put forth in the 1971 book "Diet for a Small Planet" by Frances Moore Lappé. It was a million-copy bestseller. Unfortunately, many people still aren’t aware that this theory was later found to be completely false. In fact, Lappé herself recanted her original theory in later works that were far less popular.

The truth is that most plant foods do contain all the essential amino acids and furthermore, your body will store amino acids between meals — it doesn’t need to get all the essentials in a single meal.

I've been a vegetarian (vegan) hiker for over 8 years and don't make any special effort to supplement or combine to get additional protein. My performance doesn't suffer at all compared to my carnivororous hiking buddies.

paul johnson
(pj) - F

Locale: LazyBoy in my Den - miss the forest
Re: Vegetarian Protein Myth on 10/12/2005 16:43:04 MDT Print View

just can't win. in trying to keep my posts short, made a statement which really req'd add'l clarification. so, here goes...


through no fault of your own, i believe that you have been misinformed on a few points. first off, know that i don't consider myself as having special "expert" status in this (or any other) area.

however, this complete/incomplete protein information/myth is present in many other nutritional references - some even b/f 1971. there are many other references containing detailed info on human dietary requirements for protein and protein synthesis in humans - my college biochemistry and human physiology texts among them. not sure that Lappe should have taken credit for it, since my texts were written before 1971. Lappe may have popularized some ideas. don't know. never heard of Lappe or the book.

the idea of combining plant sources to obtain higher quality protein (and in some cases "complete" protein) is to avoid unecessary catabolism of existing protein in the human body.

there is no disagreement on the presence of the necessary essential amino acids in many (not all) plants. the issue has to do with the ratios in the plant tissue versus that required for protein formation in human beings. typically, at least one (and sometimes more than one) amino acid is in such low amounts (and in some cases missing entirely) that "alone" (unless consumed in gigantic quantities), that food stuff will prove inadequate for manufacturing significant quantities of human protein. as in any chemical rxn, there can be a limiting reagent. in this case, it would be the particular essential amino acid that is not present in the proper ratio required for protein formation. it does not mean protein will not be formed, but only as much protein as permitted by the limiting amino acid. the body will then have to catabolize ("break down") certain other protein sources already present in the human body to supply the missing amino acids. depending upon the degree to which this needs to be done, there can be serious side effects from this. an increase in urinary nitrogen can be caused by insufficient protein intake and is looked for as an indication of this condition.

this is the real issue: not can i get all of the amino acids (not too difficult to do), but can i get them in the proper ratios (quantities) to form protein (this is just a little bit more difficult). this is what is referred to as protein quality.

as far as storage of amino acids/protein. don't recall that and not sure that it is correct. i do remember that when an amino acid deficiency does occur, the body in order to utilize the other amino acids to allow protein synthesis to continue will catabolize labile body proteins, including plasma albumin, and muscle tissue in order to permit protein synthesis to continue. is this what you mean by storage of amino acids in the human body? to the best of my recollection, amino acids are not stored. any unused protein/amino acids are deaminated and then oxidized via both gluocse or fat metabolic pathways and stored as glycogen or fat, respectively. the excess nitrogenous waste produced by these pathways is excreted in the urine as either ammonia or urea. once stored as glycogen or fat, they are later used as fuel/energy, not building blocks for protein (at least that's how i recall it, but it's been quite a while, so please verify this).

i could go into a lot more detail on this subject and provide concrete examples of LAA in various food stuffs (even beef has two AA's which are present in somewhat lower quantities - any chem rxn can have a limiting reagent - in this case, since there is an abundance of higher quality protein, this does not pose a practical problem), but am afraid of being "spanked" by some who may not have an interest in such a lengthy post and technical discussion. hope this info helps some. as usual, things are not as simple as we might like them to be.

Edited by pj on 10/13/2005 02:58:30 MDT.

David Lewis
(davidlewis) - MLife

Locale: Nova Scotia, Canada
Re: Re: Re: Re: Backpacking Food List: Vegetarian on 10/12/2005 19:27:14 MDT Print View

Ryan wrote: "Hey, me too David. I still eat beef."

Ya ya ya... smart alec :) I know :P It's a contradition in terms... but I use it because it's easier than explaining the whole list of what I eat and don't eat... as in "well, I'm sort of vegetarian... most of the time... but I do eat this and that and that... and not that... and I'll have organic chicken maybe once in a blue moon... blah blah blah". Easier to just say I'm "semi-vegetarian" as my diet is lacto-ovo vegetarian about 85% of the time. Actually, I usually use my own term, "pretend vegetarian" :) If I REALLY cared about labels, technically, I'm a "flexitarian". Ohhhh!!! Cool! :) A new, and, I'm sorry, completely stupid word coined for those who eat vegetarian MOST of the time but occasionally also eat meat or chicken or fish/seafood or whatever. Personally, I just eat what I eat and I do so for a wide variety of reasons. I hate labels.

Mark: I've never read Lappé's book... but have heard so much about the whole combining thing. Thanks so much for the info.

Paul: Thanks so much for your detailed post! Great info. Clearly I have to brush up on my research if I want to be a good "Pretend Vegetarian". :)

Edited by davidlewis on 10/12/2005 19:36:11 MDT.

Eric Eaton
(ericeaton) - F
Re:Re: Vegetarian Protein Myth on 03/10/2006 06:25:32 MST Print View

Hi All,
This is my first post on any forum, so please bear with me if I use atypical syntactical unity.
Although I am not a nutritional expert, I have been a vegan for over twenty years with several of those being on a completely raw diet. I do not get sick, ever – even though my job as a private music instructor keeps me in constant close contact with every germ known and unknown. My energy level is beyond what it was in my teen years (30+ years ago) which has helped me on the trail considerably. I have even found a complete reversal of a chronic sinus condition (could not breathe through my nose for the first few decades of life, until I quit dairy). Several hundred of my friends and acquaintances are longtime vegans/vegetarians, so I have some anecdotal information at least.
Being as we are all in a capitalistic society, many organizations posing as giving us helpful life information are actually advertising products. One example of this is the Dairy Council – the largest provider of “nutritional” information to our school systems. They have told people for years how we need animal products to provide complete nutrition (the Four Food Groups anyone?). Great for sales, terrible for our society’s health.
One of their most successful “scientific” concepts pertains to human requirements for complete protein. This is still pervasive in today’s lay and professional culture. Much excellent research has been done in this area (check out Colin T. Campbell’s China/Cornell study – the longest running and largest epidemiological study ever undertaken on human nutrition), but the message is not getting through the quagmire of an outdated paradigm.
We simply do not need that much protein. As mentioned in the article, we just don’t. How many hikers do you know who suffer from kwashiorkor? How many even know it’s a protein deficiency? On the other side, how many people suffer from obesity, adult onset diabetes, atherosclerosis, kidney and bladder stones, arthritis or even osteoporosis? These can be caused by excess protein. Not to mention the other distresses brought on by eating the cholesterol, saturated fats, and toxins (yes, there is plenty of pus in milk for instance) found in the substances most people consider as protein foods.
While it is true combining certain foods (grains and legumes) does increase the availability of complete protein, it is simply unnecessary for human dietary requirements.
I say, let’s all educate ourselves on what helps our bodies run well and encourage each other to obtain the highest form of health possible. It is not easy, because of traditions and much conflicting information, but it is doable. “The spirit is willing, but the flesh is tasty.” As everyone must hike their own hike, we all must choose where we eat on the food spectrum.
One final thought: a vegan diet is lighter on the planet. Many of the beautiful places we can no hike in have been destroyed by the need for land used to produce animal products. It is way more than would be needed to produce plant foods. I love being able to claim two acres of land each year not destroyed for this. That’s over forty acres so far, and counting. Feel free to join me.
I wish you all health and long life.
Your thoughts here…
Hoping to share some fresh asparagus on the trail with you,

Douglas Frick
(Otter) - MLife

Locale: Wyoming
Re: Re:Re: Vegetarian Protein Myth on 03/10/2006 10:01:59 MST Print View

> I say, let’s all educate ourselves on what helps our bodies run well...

I'm not a vegan; not really even interested. However, I am interested in lightening up my food and cooking gear. I also just suffered from an over-spiced commercial freeze-dried dinner on the trail, and my mom said she's giving up on pre-packaged meals and just going to eat oatmeal for her few days on the trail. Frank Ramos had an interesting post on another thread about hiking on plain oatmeal for weeks on end.

Your post was very general in nature, and I'm wondering if you can provide some information that is more specific to the subject of backpacking. From your experience as a vegan, what kind of simple diet would be sufficient to provide energy for hiking on, say, a week-long trek? I doubt anybody (expecially me) would become malnourished and underweight in such a short period of time, but I am worried I might "run out of puff" if I'm not getting the right kind of available energy from my food.

Can you help? What sort of food would you recommend for a "Backpacking Food List: Vegetarian" (or Vegan)? Boring is OK, maybe even good--it simplifies things.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Re: Re:Re: Vegetarian Protein Myth on 03/10/2006 12:24:17 MST Print View

Let's just say that a diet of rice/pasta/grains/legumes is perfect. It isn't hard to do, and can be done with a minimal of planning.
For the most part I eat little meat-and only at night do I eat meat nowdays on the trail (if I do) and even then, it is very little.
One doesn't have to eat a weeks worth of oatmeal only - if they look around a bit ;-)
I have quite a few vegan and veggie recipes up on my website...I even have a second website that is pretty much all vegan/veg backpacking recipes...

Eric Eaton
(ericeaton) - F
RE:Re: Re:Re: Vegetarian Protein Myth on 03/10/2006 22:54:39 MST Print View

OK, now you’re talkin’ Doug.

Remember, we get our enery from eating complex carbs. I can’t speak for what will work for you, but here is what’s usually in my pack in addition to a 1 liter MSR Ti pot and appropriate stove (either none for hot weather soak-and-wait-semi-edible foods, tealite cup or Mini Bull alcohol usually, or MSR white gas for winter).

If out in the winter, a hot breakfast suites me. I make either rolled oats I’ve food processed a bit for quick cooking or cream of rice (Rice-N-Shine is one brand), mix in some fruit (early in week I like fresh apple, pear, even banana; late in week I go with dried mango, apple, banana, apricots, prunes or freeze-dried strawberries), and round it out with a cup of hot mint tea (if I’m feeling decadent).
For three season grub, any dried fruit, nuts (love them pistachios!) and some dulse seaweed all washed down with an Emergen-C (carefully chosen as some are not veg friendly).
If I want to impress hiking partners, I will throw some stones in the bottom of my pot, cover with water, and boil-bake “cakes” in aluminum or paper muffin tins on top of the stones inside my pot. These I premix at home by placing spelt flour, flax meal, baking powder, arrowroot powder, cinnamon and raisins in a Ziploc. Just add water (or mint tea) and mix inside the bag, stick it in the tins and steam them up. Yum!

Depending on weather and my fuss tolerance level: veg stix, sprouts, Fantastic Foods instant hummus, peanut butter, homemade gorp, bagels with ‘fu-creamcheese, more fruit, nuts, dulse, and another Emergen-C. I also make what I call Glop, (equal parts peanut butter, agave nectar or maple syrup, and a whole grain flour, sometimes coconut, raisins, walnuts, or what-have-you). Eat it straight from the Ziploc; keeps a long time.

Personal favorite: Mac & Chreese (not a typo) by Road’s End Organics, put in a Ziploc with sun dried tomatoes and dried parsley. Could eat it everyday for a year!
Others: Mashed potatoes with an instant veg brown gravey and freeze-dried peas. Or fresh potatoes & sweet potatoes, carrots, cabbage, onion, celery, garlic, a veg boulion all chopped on site and made into soup – amazing if you have the time, patients, and fuel. Then there is pasta with pine nuts, olive oil, onion and garlic powders, spices, and fresh broccoli. Home-dried Chile, split pea or lentil soups. Sometimes I have resorted to ramen or rice noodle soup.
If I’m with another hiker, I may bring some parchment paper cut to size and make a “calzone” from home-mixed dough, powdered tomato sauce, spices, peas, carrots, onions, etc all baked in a pot wrapped in foil with a hole in the top to distribute the hot air as well as a crinkled and wrinkled disc of foil underneath to keep the bottom from burning. With careful tending, these are a treat for all the senses.
Any of these are accompanied by fresh assorted sprouts from home and grown en route. And don't forget the free fresh berries and green briar!


Usually home-make oatmeal or peanut butter cookies. Also, nuts, fruit, dulse.

Hope this is specific enough to be of help. Enjoy!


James Hemphill
(jhemp_00) - F
vegatarian on 03/11/2006 08:59:44 MST Print View

Hey all,

I'm 27 years old 6 foot 190 pounds, and I've been a vegetarian since the day I was born. I was not born into a family that was vegetarian. I was born that way. My family was a meat eating family from Kansas. As a baby I would spit any meat back up, and as a young kid whenever my parents would force me to eat some chicken or some other meat I would gag and spit it out. They had no Idea about proper nutrition.
I diddnt grow up eating a very healthy vegetarian diet. Not much fruit and no vegatables. I didnt start eating Veggies until I was 22. But yet I was very healthy. I rarley got sick, and have always been fit, good endurance and the whole enchilada.
My diet today is about the same except I eat some veggies, more fruit, and grains and they are all organic. My girlfriend calls my a pastaterian! But feel no better or worse since I started including veggies in my diet.
I have never worried about protien. I think once when I was racing my bicycle alot I tried some protien powder to see if it would help. I never noticed a differnece and stopped taking it after a few months.
On long backpacking trips (6-9 days) I dont worry about protien, I just eat what tastes good. I keep it simple. Oatmeal and some fruit leather(like fruit roll ups) for breakfast, whole wheat begal, peanut butter and honey for lunch, and some kind of pasta for dinner. Nuts for snack during the day, and gatorade. I found this keeps my energy up and I dont get worn down over long days, I actually feel better the longer I am out.
I think we (Humans) are like cockroaches. We can survive and thrive on just about anything. Our bodies learn how to adapt to certain food sources.

James Hemphill
(jhemp_00) - F
diet on 03/11/2006 09:30:43 MST Print View

More speific,

I Have always thought that for backpacking a diet that concentrates more on carbs is the way to go. During the day when you are working hard, simple carbs are a great for engergy, they get into your blood fast. I use gatorade, and then put honey and peanut butter on my bagels for food during the day. That combo keeps me from hitting the wall during hard days.
Then eat some more substaintial carbs for breakfast and dinner, like oatmeal and pasta. That will help in the recovery of your muscles. A friend who was a exercise science major always told me that the best time to eat carbs, like pastas, was after exercise, because it helped your muscles recover the quickest.

cat morris
(catt) - F

Locale: Alaska
Thanks eric on 03/18/2006 12:49:39 MST Print View

Great post, eric! I'll have to look for Mac&Chreese!

I too eat a lot of dulse on the trail, mainly thrown in my dinners. Dandelion greens or lambs quarters are another of my favorite dinner additions.

Rob Mcrae
(emptyman) - F

Locale: the other, big Ontario
way to go eric! on 04/25/2006 19:06:59 MDT Print View

Firstly, this thread is refreshing. Second, way to go Eric. As a vegan who tries to go 'raw' as much as possible, I was glad to read your first ever post which was great. I try to dehydrate stuff so I can have some raw during camping, but obviously this is not very easy to sustain. And why the heck hasn't anyone mentioned blue green algae- the world's superfood and best know assimilable source of protein for humans ?

Eric Eaton
(ericeaton) - F
Re: Thanks eric on 04/25/2006 20:48:09 MDT Print View

Hey Cat,

Great greens to add.

Here's the website for Mac & Chreese:

I don't know how to make the URL go directly there, so please copy and paste into your browser.

Forage on!