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Basic Food Question (Vegan/Vegetarian)
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Sean Passanisi
(passanis) - MLife
Basic Food Question (Vegan/Vegetarian) on 05/15/2013 18:00:57 MDT Print View

Hello. I found BPL about 6 months ago and promptly delved into the gear forums. I've learned a lot, and have a lot more to learn. But I'm on a good path to dialing in my gear.

I'd like to now focus on food. Is there a good place where I can learn the basics of backpacking food? For example, target calories per gram, target calories per day, etc. When I started shopping for gear at REI before BPL, I could look up the weight of a backpack but I had no idea that a 5 lb pack was totally overkill for my needs. I'm sure there are similar principle for backpacking nutrition. I like to keep vegan, but do occasionally dabble in vegetarian fare. For my last several trips, I've been eating quick cooking oats for breakfast, nutrition bars for lunch, and dehydrated vegan soups with fresh bread for dinner.

Anyway, I found the following thread but would love to learn of other resources.

Thank you.

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Basic Food Question (Vegan/Vegetarian) on 05/15/2013 18:38:23 MDT Print View

Most of what I might suggest is in the other thread you referenced.

"basics of backpacking food? For example, target calories per gram, target calories per day, etc."

That'll vary based on personal tastes, caloric needs, etc. FWIW, I normally shoot for ~ 3000 calories/day in 1.5 lbs of food/day. That's 125 calories/ounce. Doesn't leave a lot of room for low caloric density foods, unless you want to be eating butter sticks and drinking olive oil to make up for it. With the foods I normally take, I can get things to the 125 cal/oz mark with about 45% of calories from fat.

At 3000 calories/day and doing full days on the trail (20-25 miles), I'm burning some body fat, too. When that's gone, the food has to get upped to 4000+ calories/day.

Ask if you have other questions - lots of experienced folks here!


Bill S.

Sarah Kirkconnell
(sarbar) - F

Locale: In the shadow of Mt. Rainier
Re: Basic Food Question (Vegan/Vegetarian) on 05/16/2013 11:13:55 MDT Print View

My advice? Don't overthink it. Eat what YOU like, not what others say you should eat. There are so many crazy diets out there - but what is lost is if you don't like what you take, you won't eat right and will suffer for it :-)

I quit weighing my food now when hiking. What does it matter when I am carrying 45 pounds of third child and gear on my back now? Lol.......

Bill Segraves
(sbill9000) - F - M
Re: Re: Basic Food Question (Vegan/Vegetarian) on 05/16/2013 18:55:16 MDT Print View

"Don't overthink it. Eat what YOU like, not what others say you should eat."

Oh yeah, that, too! :)

Bill S.

Paul Ashton
(PDA123) - F

Locale: Eastern Mass
vegan on 05/17/2013 14:43:49 MDT Print View

Hiking uses up muscle and needs replacement protein. Make sure you have adequate protein in your vegan foodstuffs. e.g. you may want to add a spoonful of soy protein powder to your breakfast oats, and maybe to your supper soup. Peanut butter is a calory rich additive which, IMO, tastes better than most fats. You may have to invest in a dehydrator to be able to have a variety of the meals you like and meet your diet criteria. They carry light as well.

Anthony Alpert
(goby99) - F

Locale: Trinity Alps
Get a book on 05/20/2013 13:21:02 MDT Print View

Eat whatever you want!! Backpacking is exhausting, and you'll need those calories. My favorite vegetarian (and it might be vegan) food is from Mary Jane's. But there are lots of different options. I also take a huge bag of trail mix.

Buy food is expensive, but it's convenient and yummy. This is a great book that I highly recommend:

Being vegetarian, I'm not sure if it's vegan friendly (and i don't have it in front of me), but I'm sure it is. And you'll probably know how to make the recipes vegan.

Susan Papuga
(veganaloha) - M

Locale: USA
Re: Basic Food Question (Vegan/Vegetarian) on 05/26/2013 03:55:18 MDT Print View

I'm vegan and never have a problem getting enough protein or calories. One thing I always bring is a powdered superfood (calorie and nutrient dense) mix. My current favorite is Raw Meal, which is available in health food stores and comes in orignal, vanilla and chocolate flavors. To this I add some soy protein powder. I usually mix a bottle of it with some instant Kona coffee for my morning drink. This way i get a good meal in the morning that I can take on the go and since it's a drink mix, I find it more satisfying than eating something big in the morning.

Other than that, i just look for familiar products when I buy at resupply points or read the label. For example, there are a few vegan Thai Kitchen rice noodle packs that are really good. I like rice noodles better than the typical ramen wheat noodles and the rice also packs easier and cooks faster.

I also like to bring some miso packets - read the lable carefully to ensure what you buy is vegan - or spices to make broth or add flavor to other products. I don't usually take the prepackaged BP meals, but i have tried some of the Mary Jane's Kitchen vegan meals that I like.

Also, I think you just need to find creative ways to pack or replicate things you eat at home, like instant hummus and tortillas. On short trips, I haven taken the carton tofu products. I like adding fresh tofu to soups or my rice noodles.

Bottomline, i think you just need to experiment in general, but always make sure you have quality food and not just a lot of junk calories. I pay strict attention to the nutritional quality of my food just like I do at home. Remember your 6 basic nutrients; carbohydrate, protein, fats, water, vitamins and minierals, and make sure that you are eating healthy and balanced. Too often i see hikers just pounding in junk food and then wondering why they are so hungary. Well, it's not rocket science, it's not just about total calories, it matters where those calories come from. These same geniuses ususally insist that my "diet" is "unbalanced" or "unhealthy" or inherently "wrong." (I still find it amazing how many people will immediately begin challenging me as soon as they hear I'm vegan.)

I usually tell them the same thing I tell people who say they "tried" being vegetaraian, but they ended up tired all the time, so they resumed eating meat. As usual, the problem is they are protein deficient because when they stop eating meat, they are unaware of the plant sources of protein, so they end up eating little or no protein at all, which of course is the problem. My response, all humans need protein, so think of a vegetarian not as "someone who doesn't eat meat," but rather as someone who gets their protein from a plant source rather than an animal source.

good to remember this when you're backpacking. you need protein, so you just need to do your research and plan that part of your diet and identify vegan sources you can easily buy or pack.

Have fun, bon appetit!

Doug I.
(idester) - MLife

Locale: PNW
Re: Re: Basic Food Question (Vegan/Vegetarian) on 05/26/2013 12:07:14 MDT Print View

"One thing I always bring is a powdered superfood (calorie and nutrient dense) mix. My current favorite is Raw Meal, which is available in health food stores and comes in orignal, vanilla and chocolate flavors."

I've become a fan of the Vega line of vegan food - the protein powders, meal replacements and bars. Pretty darn tasty for bars and powdered drink mixes.

Charles Tufankjian

Locale: New Hampshire
Light Vegetarian Food on 05/29/2013 12:11:56 MDT Print View

Plus one regarding the powdered superfood mix. You can throw that stuff in just about anything. I really do think keeping it light without eating meat is challenging in a backpacking setting regarding protein etc., I've found that if you do it everyday regardless, than it shouldn't be that tough. You just have to think outside the box a bit. The main difficulty being that the majority or pre packaged BP meals are based around a meat component.

Edited by ctufankjian on 05/29/2013 14:53:06 MDT.