6 Easy Food Ideas for Vegan Backpackers

Plan ahead and enjoy delicious vegan food in the backcountry!

By: Jessica Foiles

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A few summers ago while visiting Yosemite, I had the bright idea that I could survive solely on protein bars and a few not so tasty dehydrated food bags for a few days, mainly due to being overwhelmed with keeping my pack weight down and thinking I didn't have a lot of vegan options. I ate so many bars in those few days in the High Sierras that to this day I cannot even fathom putting another protein bar in my mouth. Anyone that has ever done any backpacking, whether it be a quick weekend trip to your favorite state park or a months long thru hike, will tell you it can sometimes be hard to get all the calories that you need in a day after taking on a full day of hiking. Most people burn anywhere from 500-600 calories per hour backpacking. Add in that you are typically hiking 8-12 hours a day and see how quick those calories burned add up! Throw a vegan diet into the mix and it can seem next to impossible and sometimes daunting to plan out your meals and get all the energy that you need in the backcountry. It does take a bit more planning, but you can easily put together a mix of meals to stay full and not get burnt out on eating protein bar after protein bar after protein bar...

1. Rice and Pasta

Both instant rice and pasta are staples and a perfect base to most meals I make. Buy or dehydrate beans before your trip, add in some seasoning and serve with your rice or sprinkle on some nutritional yeast (a must have) and oil to get a high fat, high calorie "cheesy" pasta!   

2. Boxed Food

Earth Balance makes a delicious boxed vegan Mac and Cheese that you can pick up at most grocery stores. While you won't have butter or milk to add, throw in some oil and a little water and it'll taste just fine! Pick up some Ramen Noodle packages, throw out the seasoning and scoop out some peanut butter and you'll have a delicious noodle dish with peanut sauce.

Photo: Jillian Hayes


Good Ol' Peanuts and Raisins. Or really any trail mix will do. Finding vegan trail mix is more than easy to do, or opt to make your own with whatever nuts, fruit, and seeds you prefer. 

4. Peanut Butter

Add it to bagels for a hearty lunch, add it to pasta as mentioned above, scoop it out and eat it by itself. You can't go wrong with this high calorie/fat/protein packed food that is so versatile and filling. It is a must have anytime I'm out on the trail.


I eat oatmeal for breakfast every morning at home and that doesn't change in the backcountry. Pick up some instant oatmeal, pack some dehydrated fruit, throw on some peanut butter and have a filling, fiber and protein filled breakfast every morning to get the fuel you need to put those miles in for the day!

6. Spices

It's super important to bring a few different spices with you so you don't get bored with your base meals. Garlic powder, cinnamon, basil, salt, pepper, oregano and curry are all great spices to bring to switch things up a bit. Make your own spice kit or buy a pre-loaded kit (there are a few out on the market.)

Cover photo: Austin Trigg

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Always practice Leave No Trace ethics on your adventures. Be aware of local regulations and don't damage these amazing places for the sake of a photograph.