What to take when camping as a vegan? This is the question I (briefly) asked myself when Chris and I decided to escape to Aber Falls for the night with some of our friends. It was a short camping trip that had been a long time needed, and now that it was finally happening I was excited (if a little slightly daunted) by what vegan pleasures I could devour whilst out in the wilderness.
I love the outdoors, and if there’s any excuse to munch on my favourite vegan treats whilst soaking up beautiful nature and the company of good friends, I will take it. But staying healthy whilst away from your fridge and your cooker can pose somewhat of a challenge, given that most foods we take on camping trips generally need to be packaged and non-perishable, for obvious reasons.
But I did it – I packed enough food not only to keep myself from going hungry, but also feed two other vegans on the trip! I don’t know if everything I ate was ‘healthy’ per se, but I did maintain energy levels and didn’t feel rundown or depleted after my night of being nocturnal (who sleeps on camping trips, really?)
How much food you take will obviously depend on how long you’re camping for (one night for us), how many mouths there are to feed and your mode of transportation (we took the car). But hopefully my tips and ideas here will help you out.
1. Fresh fruit
Fruit is an easy, portable snack and a great way to get in some much-needed vitamins. They’ll also help with keeping at least part of your diet fresh, as most of what you’ll be eating will likely be pre-packaged or dried.
Apples, oranges and bananas are obvious, easy options. Be sure to keep soft and stone fruits (like berries, plums, peaches and apricots) in a hard container to keep them from getting mushed.
2. Dried fruit, nuts and seeds
Dried fruit, nuts and seeds travel well and are long-lasting. They’re excellent for keeping your energy levels up, both immediate (the fruit) and slow-releasing (nuts).
Try dates, raisins, goji berries or dried mango, along with pumpkin seeds, almonds, pistachios or cashews. Get unsweetened and unsalted varieties of these, which have nothing added (raw if possible), to avoid feeling dehydrated. You can always put a blend of these together to make a homemade ‘trail mix’ type of thing, or season them with a bit of cinnamon or coconut sugar.
3. Vegan burgers/sausages
Can you really beat a veggie burger or sausage, hot straight off the BBQ? No, you cannot. Providing you’re taking your own grill or disposable barbecue, burgers and sausages are an amazing handheld treat and will taste even better outdoors (don’t ask how, they just do).
Whether you take homemade burgers or store-bought, make sure they’re kept in a cool box or a container with an ice pack, to retain their freshness as long as possible. Pack some buns and some salad/veggies of choice – I took a box of washed iceberg lettuce and some sliced tomatoes and gherkins which were kept cool in our cool box. Corn on the cob also tastes delicious straight off the grill, and those sausages will help make a mean breakfast.
4. Dry grains (pasta, rice, oats etc.)
If taking a small cooking stove, dry grains can easily be cooked to create the base of simple, satisfying meals. Rice and pasta only require sauce and a few herbs or spices to liven up, whilst oats can be cooked into porridge for breakfast. Be sure to choose whole grain versions of everything. You could even be extra healthy and bring along some buckwheat or quinoa!
Simple condiments are a must for quickly livening up any meal…especially one that may have come out of a box :’) Grab ketchup, mustard, BBQ sauce, and whatever else takes your fancy (these are great for splurging on burgers). Tamari or soy sauce is also perfect for livening up rice or noodles, whilst a can of chopped tomatoes, along with some dry herbs and some salt, can be tasty when added to your pasta.
6. Dry herbs and spices
Dry herbs and spices take up barely any space, but will deliver a powerful punch of fresh flavour to your food, so they’re definitely worth taking. Take them in their jars or pack them into little packets/containers beforehand – though the key is to stick to the basic ones and not try to cram in your whole spice rack!
I made a little herb blend for pasta beforehand, which I took in a small container. It contained 2 tbsp nutritional yeast, 2 tsp dried basil and 2 tsp oregano, plus salt and pepper. You could do this with any blend of spices to create your own ‘instant’ meals.
7. Baked treats
It’s always great to take something homemade with you when you go camping, as long as it can last for a couple of days in an airtight container, possibly without being refrigerated.
Flapjacks and energy balls made with dried dates, nuts, seeds and oats as a base will last pretty well and provide plenty of energy for whatever walking or hiking you may be doing. (I made a batch of Banana Breakfast Bars from Deliciously Ella’s second cookbook). Homemade granola is also a brilliant snack for breakfast – or any time! My go-to granola recipe is this one by Deliciously Ella.
If you’re not much into baking however (or if you just want something more convenient) then there are plenty of tasty vegan biscuits out there that are sure to keep munchies at bay. We took a couple of packs of Oreos along for the ride. 😉
Got any other ideas you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments!