Vegan Camping and Backpacking
It's summer! Sunny days, gorgeous weather, and the kids are out of school. Covid-19 has put a crimp in most summer plans, but many people are able to maintain social distancing in campgrounds and on the trails. Here are some tips and tricks to have the perfect vegan camping trip!
There are many different types of hiking shoes dependent on the type of terrain you will be crossing. If you are backpacking and are carrying a lot of weight, your shoe will need to be stiff and sturdy to help support the extra load. If you are doing low-key hiking with a light day bag, you shoe will likely be more lightweight and flexible.
Many hiking shoes incorporate leather into the shoe construction. Leather is a highly durable material that will stretch and mold to the wearer's feet as they break in the shoe. For generations, leather was seen as the ideal material in hiking boot construction.
As shoe technology advanced, many shoe companies have transitioned to include vegan-friendly options for hiking shoes. These shoes are usually made from synthetic material, usually polyester, nylon, and synthetic leather. Synthetic leather is made from polyvinyl chloride (PVC). Sheets of the polymer are heat-stamped together in a leather grain mold to form the fabric sheets. Hiking shoes made from these synthetic materials tend to be more light-weight, have a shorter break-in period, and are more breathable. However, the shoes don't have the same durability as leather.
All shoes will fit differently! If you are gearing up for a more intense hike, please talk to a shoe specialist to get the right type of shoe that fits well. An ill-fitting shoe, especially one used under heavy weight or over technical terrain, can cause injury. Speak to a specialist for more information.
Read HERE for more in-depth information about synthetic hiking shoes and brand recommendations.
Safety is important! Don't forget your first aid kit!
The key to staying healthy and safe on a hike is to be prepared for anything with a well-stocked first aid kit. Before going on your adventure, make sure that you double check that your kit is stocked and not expired. REI Expert Advice has a handy check list to make sure you're ready!
It can be an added challenge to create a completely animal-free kit. Animal-derived ingredients hide in everything from bandages and compression wraps to pain relievers and antiseptics. We have not found a complete ready-made animal-free kit (yet), but we have tracked down the different components you'll need to be safe! Here are some of our most popular first aid items!
These bandages are made from bamboo instead of latex, making them both animal-free AND environmentally friendly! Click HERE for more information about bandages (and if they're vegan!).
It's a good idea to have a pain reliever of some form in your first aid kit for that inevitable sprained ankle. Like many over-the-counter medications, most pain relievers contain animal-derived ingredients like lactose, magnesium stearate, and gelatin. However, there are vegan-friendly pain relief options! Advil Ibuprofen Tablets, Bayer Asprin Coated Tablets, and Tylenol PM Extra Strength are all animal-free!
Vegan Camping Food
You spent a full day exploring the outdoors. Hiking trails! Swimming in mountain lakes! Bird watching! Now you're back at camp and starving! It seems like an eternity since lunch! So, my vegan adventurer, what are you going to make for dinner?
There are so many options for food in the back country, but meal planning can be roughly broken down into two main types: dehydrated food and back country cooking.
This is one of the simplest ways to prepare meals. All you need to do is add (usually boiling) water, stir, and let the meal sit for a set period of time. Dehydrated meals used to be known for being tasteless, akin to military MREs (meal, ready-to-eat). Fortunately for campers and backpackers, dehydrated food has come a very long way. There's a wide variety of meals from which to choose, including curry, pad thai, herb mushroom risotto, and three bean chili mac!
Dehydrated food is a go-to for most backpackers because it is lightweight and compact. Weight and space is a premium when you're carrying everything on your back!
You can find dehydrated food online and in most camping stores. Many people will often make their own dehydrated meals. See HERE for more information on dehydrating meals.
Back County Cooking
Cooking in your regular kitchen requires planning and forethought, so much so when you cook in the back country. If you choose to cook your meals, you'll want to make sure that you have all of your ingredients and cooking utensils ahead of time. As you plan your meals, take time to research your campground ahead of time. Will you be able to cook on a campfire (keep in mind that campfires are illegal in several states during the summer)? Is there a BBQ grill at your disposal? What type of camping stove will you need to bring?
Back country cooking can be as complicated or as simple as you choose. It ranges from making pancakes from a mix to pasta or curry meals. It is important to be aware of the longevity of ingredients, especially if you are using fresh ingredients. If they need to be on ice, look ahead to see if your campground provides ice. Otherwise, you'll want to make those meals first.
Here are some favorite Vegan Camping Recipes:
1. Foil packets: These packets are easy to make and are delicious! Fold your favorite veggies and tofu into a foil packet, often with a sauce or marinade, and put it on the grill or over a camp fire! Here's a good recipe if you want some inspiration to get started.
2. Campfire Paella Primavera, from One Green Planet
2-3 cups (at least) fresh vegetables, ideally including red bell or pimiento peppers
1 generous glug of olive oil (see note in step 2)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 small onion or a few scallions, chopped
8 ounces (1 package) seitan chorizo crumbles or chopped vegan protein of your choice
1 cup rice, preferably short grain, but any kind will work
1 32-ounce box of vegetable broth
a splash of wine (optional)
a pinch of saffron (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
If you have the time, it’s not about to rain, and you want to pull out all the stops, begin by grilling the veggies whole on a grate over the fire. If using peppers, cook until the skin is black and charred. Once cool, wipe off the charred skin with a paper towel, remove seeds, and cut into strips. For other veggies, grill until tender, with blackened grill marks, and chopped into bite sized bits. Set veggies aside. Or, if you want to keep it simple, just chop raw vegetables and set aside.
Add olive oil to a cast iron skillet until about 1/8 inch deep all around and set on a grate over the hottest part of the fire. Add garlic and onions and sauté until soft, moving the pan to a cooler part of the grate if they start to brown too quickly.
Add chorizo or other protein and cook until starting to brown, then stir in uncooked rice. Cook for a few minutes until the rice is coated in oil, and becoming opaque in some spots. Add a splash of wine, if using, and stir until mostly evaporated.
Pour in about half the box of broth and add the veggies, if using raw. Stir and season with saffron, salt, and pepper. Place over the hottest part of the fire, and move around the grill as needed to keep it at a simmer, but not a rolling boil.
Allow to simmer uncovered until most of the liquid has evaporated or has been absorbed by the rice, usually about 15-30 minutes. Stir in the grilled veggies, being careful not to disturb the bottom layer of rice, which will stick to the pan and burn slightly in order to form the socarrat, or smoky, crunchy crust.
Add more liquid in roughly quarter-cup splashes as needed until the rice is soft, but toothsome, and then continue simmering until all of the liquid has been absorbed. Adjust seasoning to taste.
Scrape up the socarrat using a wooden spoon, and mix throughout the rest of the rice.
For the sub-ah b'har seven-spice mix:
2 tbsp whole cumin seeds
1 tbsp whole coriander seeds
2 tbsp freshly ground black pepper
1 tbsp smoked mild paprika
1 tbsp whole cloves
1 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tbsp whole allspice berries
For the spiced chickpeas:
4 tbsp sunflower oil
1 large onion
1 tbsp sub-ah b'har 7 spice mix
1 400 gram tin chickpeas in water
100 grams seasonal greens spinach, chard, kale, spicy Chinese greens, etc.
sea salt to taste
Place the cumin and coriander seeds in a small, dry pan over a medium heat and toast until the cumin seeds start popping.
Transfer the toasted seeds to a large mortar and pestle along with the remaining ingredients and grind to a find powder.
Transfer to an air tight container and store in a dark cupboard for up to 12 months.
To prepare the spiced chickpeas get a good fire going and heat the sunflower oil in your cooking pan. I have a fondness for cast iron, but a camping cooking pot will work or even a Dutch oven suspended on a tripod will do.
Gently sauté the onions until they begin to soften. The time this takes will depend on how hot your fire is and where your pan is located.
Add the spice mix and sauté for a further minute or two.
Stir in the drained chickpeas and combine well. Make sure the chickpeas are heated thoroughly.
Add your greens and sauté until they have just wilted but they still retain some texture.
Season to taste and serve immediately.
Want to learn more about animal-free outdoor recreation? Check out these VeganMed blogs!
Need even more animal-free products?
For more reading, check out
Thank you for your awareness and concern for animal-derived ingredients!
If you have any further questions about ingredients in your medicines and supplements, feel free to reach out to the VeganMed team!