- Dec 1, 2017 at 12:47 am #3504911
@ryanLocale: Northern Rocky Mountains
I’ve found a number of threads here as well as a variety of info across the web about backpacking as a vegan / vegetarian, but not a lot of info about anyone who is trying to do a strict plant-based diet using only whole food ingredients, i.e., no added sugars, salts, oils, and other refined ingredients.
I’m sure it would be heavier than a typical backpacking diet, but I’m wondering if anyone has tried it and what their experiences might have been?Dec 1, 2017 at 1:12 am #3504916
W I S N E R !BPL Member
Off the top of my head, Ray Jardine discusses whole food options in Beyond Backpacking. It’s not extensive, but he’s likely the first to get me thinking in this direction. I have a good deal of experience with whole/fresh food on the trail, but nothing on trips lasting much more than 5 days.
I think it really does come down to weight/bulk. I was on a 5 night in the Sierra and I know my friends were a bit surprised to see items like leeks, Persian cucumbers, tomatoes, avocados, sprouted grain bread, etc. coming out of my pack on day 3. Add dehydrated hummus, beans, and dates and I could go for a while. But it should be no surprise my pack likely outweighed theirs to the tune of 10-12 pounds on the same trip.
Beyond personal diet/health choices, I think the best thing about fresh foods on the trail is escaping the mentality that you need special food to backpack. The idea that you need to go buy a Mountain House to do an overnight is something I find really perpetuated among beginners and REI salespeople. If you’re willing to pack a little weight, the makings for a 3-4 day trip should already be in your refrigerator or pantry. Sometimes the simplicity of carrying whole food surpasses the weight savings of the typically highly refined backpacker junk diet.
I guess it also comes down to how spartan you want to be. I once hiked for a few days with a woman walking the PCT on a raw, vegan diet. Needless to say, she was essentially living on nuts, seeds, dried fruits/veggies, and soaked grains. It didn’t look all that fun, but she was one month in and doing fine.
This was thru-hiking the JMT many years ago. Sprouted bread, avocado, tomato sandwiches…A favorite lunch.
Refried beans, avocado, and some sort of bread. A favorite breakfast.
Rice noodle, veggie broth, green onion, and backyard chicken eggs…
Udon, veggie broth, green onion, mushroom…
All of these meals are typically the result of simply raiding the fridge before trips. Super simple stuff but it looks purty and tastes good.Dec 1, 2017 at 4:56 am #3504970
Those look like delicious meals.Dec 1, 2017 at 5:25 am #3504971
David ThomasBPL Member
@davidinkenaiLocale: North Woods. Far North.
Dehydrated beans, onions, peppers, carrots, coconut milk, and curry paste. Add cashews, almonds or sunflower seeds to get to fats up and the weight/day down.
Also, spring black bear – they eat nothing but grass. And you don’t have to them in (only out).Dec 1, 2017 at 5:44 am #3504976
Ito JakuchuBPL Member
Beyond personal diet/health choices, I think the best thing about fresh foods on the trail is escaping the mentality that you need special food to backpack. The idea that you need to go buy a Mountain House to do an overnight is something I find really perpetuated among beginners and REI salespeople
Yeah exactly my thoughts.
I find the same thing with trail running but the way. As if you can’t fuel yourself without $1~2 gels every 30 minutes. I love to just take raisins (apart from the energy quite high in potassium for example) or other dried fruits. Nuts for protein on the go and/or post-movement.
I’m vegetarian but like to eat vegan mostly. I don’t care much about the general added salts, but I think in backpacking meals it is excessive and just doesn’t taste well at all. I also really love to make oatmeal – it’s a great energy booster that really keeps me full.
Here in Japan we do a lot with onigiri (rice balls) with pickled items. Pickled plum or miso onigiri I really like after eating a lot of the sweet dried fruits.
In general, dried/dehydrated pickled home cooking or ingredients are the best.Dec 1, 2017 at 7:58 am #3504982
First whole foods can include dehydrated vegetables and (cooked) beans which are easily available from outfits such as Harmony House (or others). Dehydrated foods are amazingly lightweight!
It’s not at all hard to make up meals consisting entirely of repackaged vegetable/bean combinations with added salt, spices etc. For example, Black bean chili with spinach for dinner. Also include peanut or almond butters, honey, some nuts, quinoa, rice or pasta, tortillas, crackers, hard cheeses etc
We ate this way on a 9 day backpacking trip with a scout troop; some of the boys were vegetarian and we didn’t want to have separate meals for them. We ate very well on that trip and no one went hungry or felt undernourished.
On the above outing we had three very young scouts (under 90 lbs each); they were each limited in how much weight they could carry (total pack weight around 20 lbs including food and water). So we were quite aware of the need to minimize pack weight for all as the rest of the group especially the adults had to carry most of the food and fuel. Since the group wanted to eat cooked meals for both breakfast and dinner, we packed a significant amount of white gas.
I have since eaten that way on all my backpacking trips. I buy the ingredients (dehydrated veggies and beans) from Harmony House and create my own meal packets (vacuum sealed for each dinner).
I’m not vegetarian I’ll also carry some jerky or meat bars or salami to supplement my lunches.
Breakfast is mostly some combination of nuts, seeds (hemp, flax etc), whey protein powder on some days and coffee/tea. Lunch is mostly nut butter, honey, tortilla wraps jerky or cheese and crackers. Rarely I’ll carry a Probar or a gel if I need some extra calories.
Dinner is a cooked meal – rehydrated veggie/bean mix with olive oil or ghee (clarified butter) for fat and quinoa or pasta. Sometimes some cheese. You could also add soy “chicken” and other faux meats – I don’t personally like it much.
On the same boy scout outing, I think for 10 people over 9 days eating this way our total food expense (not including fuel) was less than $300 – just over a $1 a meal per person (10 people x 9 days x 3 meals per day = 270 meals). We weren’t even focused on the food expense; we were all quite surprised how little we had spent on food after the fact.
We did get a 15% price break from Harmony House.
Before the trip a couple of the adults on the trip were concerned about not being adequately nourished and packed extra food for themselves (jerky, bars etc). They brought all the extra food back. This was a pretty strenuous trip through the rugged Yosemite back country around the Grand Canyon of the Tuolumne, Ten Lakes etc
Dec 1, 2017 at 4:51 pm #3505012
- This reply was modified 1 year ago by Pedestrian.
MJ HBPL Member
…a strict plant-based diet using only whole food ingredients, i.e., no added sugars, salts, oils, and other refined ingredients.
How strict are the rules about additives? I don’t think I could eat whole grains or beans or avocado without at least a little bit of salt. At least I don’t think I could do it without being too hungry to enjoy a trip. Also, judging from the white crust of my shirt and hat, I seem to lose a lot of salt even when it isn’t horribly hot.Feb 21, 2018 at 3:19 am #3519594
I’d just like to cast a vote for dehydrated sweet potatoes. Don’t really need to add anything to them. Is natural style peanut butter a “whole food”? I hiked half the PCT eating mostly peanut butter sandwiches when I decided to go without a stove. Wheat bread is obviously refined, but I’ll take that over the hassle of soaking and/or cooking whole grains for every meal. Loaves of bread and jars of peanut butter aren’t the lightest or most compact solution but feel like “real food”. An occasional avocado or tomato from town is good on the first or second day out, but I could’t live on that over the long haul.
Speaking of Jardine, the long trail of corn pasta left in hiker boxes back when I was on the PCT was always a reminder – find your own way, expert opinions on such things are often arbitrary.Feb 21, 2018 at 3:57 am #3519598
Mike BBPL Member
Aaron are you dehydrating your own sweet potatoes or buying them? I have been using instant potatoes but I like sweet potatoes way more.Feb 21, 2018 at 4:39 am #3519605
I dehydrate my own. I know there are commercial sweet potato flakes out there, but I can’t vouch for any brand. I’ve tried various recipes, adding spices or coconut milk for added calories, but somehow plain usually tastes best to me and has a better shelf life.Feb 21, 2018 at 1:56 pm #3519636
Jerry AdamsBPL Member
@retiredjerryLocale: Oregon and Washington
amazon has dried sweet potatoes. packitgourmet has many dried vegetables, and fruits and other things
if you use dried fruits and vegetables going vegan doesn’t have to be any heavier.Feb 22, 2018 at 7:47 pm #3519930
“…a strict plant-based diet using only whole food ingredients, i.e., no added sugars, salts, oils, and other refined ingredients.”
“How strict are the rules about additives? I don’t think I could eat whole grains or beans or avocado without at least a little bit of salt. At least I don’t think I could do it without being too hungry to enjoy a trip. Also, judging from the white crust of my shirt and hat, I seem to lose a lot of salt even when it isn’t horribly hot.”
Good call MJ H. Plant matter tends to be low in sodium (there’s a reason plant-eating animals are always looking for salt). It’d be important to check the sodium content on various foods while planning. Backpacking on a vegan diet with no added salt, you could be looking at potential hyponatremia if you didn’t choose some decent sodium sources.
BillFeb 22, 2018 at 8:13 pm #3519933
No diet however restrictive that I’ve seen calls for NO added salt. In a percentage of the human population excess salt in the diet causes elevated blood pressure; there are suggestions for such populations to limit salt, NOT to eliminate all salt.
Unless one has lived under a rock or has no reading comprehension or is simply trying to raise a false issue there is no basis for nonsense like the above.Feb 23, 2018 at 12:32 am #3520000
@ryanLocale: Northern Rocky Mountains
Not eating enough “added salt” won’t necessarily predispose you to hyponatremia.
Eating enough food is your best defense.
Hyponatremia occurs most often in nursing homes (where elderly people eat like birds and drink lots of water). In the wilderness, it’s caused primarily by massive loss of salts from dehydration in hot weather, combined with low intake of food volume, caused by nausea resulting by hiking in hot weather.
Natural foods have plenty of sodium for your cells basic needs, and added salt isn’t required.*
Added refined salts are what I’m trying to tackle with this proposal, not the elimination of sodium from the diet. Simply consider it a personal experiment on my part only, and not a prescriptive judgment. I’m just looking for ideas, based on curious questions that I have.
That said, I love adding refined salt to my foods. I like the taste.
For the vast majority of healthy people, I’m salt-agnostic. EYOF.
*(Edit): natural, i.e., a balanced PBF diet. But that doesn’t mean I can assume this can be extended into “warm” backcountry scenarios with high levels of exertion and salt loss through perspiration.Feb 23, 2018 at 4:01 pm #3520131
“Natural foods have plenty of sodium for your cells basic needs, and added salt isn’t required.”
It depends on which foods. Anyone who doubts it should really check the sodium content of various plant foods. If you plan to live on almonds, oats and prunes (for instance), it’s not going to work out well.
What do you think the daily sodium requirement is for someone who is backpacking and sweating for long hours/day?
Bill S.Feb 23, 2018 at 6:28 pm #3520195
Bob .BPL Member
@bcbobLocale: Vancouver IslandFeb 23, 2018 at 7:39 pm #3520224
Bob, I’d be interested to know more details about the foods you ate and the conditions under which you backpacked (heat, intensity, etc.).
According to a National Academies Report on dietary allowances, “minimum average requirement for adults can be estimated under conditions of maximal adaptation and without active sweating as no more than 5 mEq/day, which corresponds to 115 mg of sodium. In consideration of the wide variation of patterns of physical activity and climatic exposure, a safe minimum intake might be set at 500 mg/day.” However, a 2008 Bates and Miller study on sodium loss during a simulated 8-12 hour work shift in heat suggests sodium losses are on the order of 5-6 *grams*. Everyone can draw their own conclusions, but I’m betting that backpacking in warm weather is close enough to those conditions to merit recommended sodium consumption on the order of at least a few grams, even for people who are well-adapted.
5000 calories of almonds has about 10 mg of sodium. 5000 calories of oats has about 15 mg of sodium. 5000 calories of prunes has about 36 mg of sodium. Obviously, you’re not going to live exclusively on any of these things, but it gives you a sense of how far off you can be from meeting sodium needs if you choose the wrong stuff to eat.
BillFeb 23, 2018 at 7:49 pm #3520229
Michael Gregor’s …… Science based, no ads, nothing for sale.
Nothing for sale save for snake oil. Most of his claims are anti-science and not based on research.
He has an agenda: to promote veganism. He trashes anything that contradicts that agenda.
Please dig a little deeper before buying into his pseudo science.Feb 23, 2018 at 8:45 pm #3520242
@rcaffinLocale: Wollemi & Kosciusko NPs, Europe
I had a brief look at MG’s web site. Seriously anti-science.
I am sure ‘healthy eating of unprocessed foods’ is going to be good for you, but he is over the top. Avoid him imho.
RogerFeb 23, 2018 at 9:31 pm #3520253
Is it doable? Sure. Will you pack a heavier food bag? Yes. All it is, is taking what you eat at home and converting it to trail friendly (dehydrating or finding clean versions that are convient)
After I had kid 2 I was on a PBD high, and did a lot of collaborations with other vegan/PBD bloggers who many were no oil/gluten free. I did this through pregnancy 3, and right up till he was around a year old. And my youngest had his first bout of anaphylaxis. He’s 6 now.
We still follow a PBD diet – but it is excessively modded. We cannot have nuts, peanuts or sunflowers in the home. I use coconut, avocado and some virgin olive oil now – because we don’t eat the high percentage of nuts and seeds we used to.
The biggest change was taking up urban farming a few years back. I am a full believer in that it isn’t the food we are allergic to, the food that is making us sick – but rather it is what has been done to the food that is affecting us. Some of the many foods my son is allergic to, he can eat and tolerate IF I grow it. I have customers who cannot eat commercially grown berries, but can eat ours. With no oral issues, no hives. I wear my tin foil pretty tight – and I show my son as evidence that how the food is raised affects us all. He also has 2 auto immune issues, that are triggered by commercially raised food. We can tell now when he is exposed as those AI crop up within hours.
We eat mostly in season now, and eat a lot of produce. Much of it I grow, dry, can and otherwise process for the year. I have become known for my heirloom yellow and white strawberries I grow. A certain few of hikers from the local region I have gotten to know in person even get food from us in season ;-) (Including from here)
So, my point? Do the diet you like – but very, very careful with what you consume – and how it was grown. When you start eating a ton of a dialed in diet it can affect you, if it is carrying heavy amounts of fungicides, herbicides and pesticides. (No nuts sold in the US are actually raw as well, all are pasteurized)
PS: I don’t consume almonds any more due to the ethical issues connected to them. As a bee keeper I realized I couldn’t live with myself knowing that the only way almonds are grown is through mass genocide of honey bees yearly. Almonds are a very filthy mono crop – peanuts are even worse, but that is another spiel – bees are trucked into Ca from Florida, do their work, then trucked back to Fl to literally detox. About half the bees die from it.
It is a popular theme in PBD/vegan that the diet is cruelty free. It isn’t. Nothing and nothing we grow is cruelty free. Everything has a price. Even my own bee keeping has a price when I accidentally squash bees when treating for mites. Or that we have to take out rabbits so we can eat.Feb 23, 2018 at 10:54 pm #3520272
+1 to your point about commercially grown produce being a possible source of allergens and other nasties and good on you that you grow your own food.
Unfortunately for much of the urban population or for those living in northern latitudes it’s very hard to grow most of the produce we consume. It’s not impossible, but it’s hard – I do know several people that grow fruits/vegetables on small plots in community gardens. They spend a significant part of their weekends “farming” – a great way to be outside!Feb 23, 2018 at 11:12 pm #3520278
Bob .BPL Member
@bcbobLocale: Vancouver Island
Feb 24, 2018 at 2:27 am #3520325
- This reply was modified 9 months, 3 weeks ago by Bob ..
Indeed :) We have a greenhouse for winter crops and use lights – I call it the Purple Party House. We also use row covers and hoop houses. It’s snowing right now :DFeb 24, 2018 at 2:51 am #3520326
“Natural foods have plenty of sodium for your cells basic needs, and added salt isn’t required.”
Be really careful with that. Our ancestors treated salt as a precious substance for good reason. Not only does salt taste good and preserve food, but is an important supplement. If one lives on 100% unprocessed food, they can and will not get enough sodium. It might not affect you immediately nor for a long time – if you are doing normal activities. However, if it’s hot and strenuous is the day, it can range from unpleasant to dangerous. If anything, most people going off a traditional diet to wholly unprocessed find that while they quickly adapt to a lower salt (tastebuds) they find they do have to sprinkle on some to a point. But you def don’t need the level most of eat every day :)Feb 24, 2018 at 3:53 am #3520345
Existing on Earth seems to be inherently non-cruelty free. Spending a lot of time considering the enslavement of bees and earthworms has always struck me as a slippery slope to either Buddha-like enlightenment… or insanity.
In terms of urban/suburban gardening, I think a lot could be done in the realm of community and architectural design, but we’ve just never thought that way, particularly in the United States. We had real “victory gardens” once during the war, but that tradition didn’t really stick. As a smallish island, Britain seems to have maintained more of a gardening culture. In America we’ve largely rejected useful gardens in favor of the institution of wasteful yards – often strictly regulated by community ordinances, emphasizing hollow manicured curb appeal and lower maintenance.
As a general rule, it seems the modern world has been content with keeping the populace well outside the view of where and how their food gets produced. I’m sure big-agro wouldn’t have it any other way.
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