Roughing it on a plant-based diet
Vegan camping. Sounds like kind of an oxymoron, doesn’t it? I gave up on camping years go due to dietary restrictions and hadn’t given it much thought until I started doing some research for my June newsletter. It turns out that eating vegan in a tent isn’t as hard as it sounds, and it’s a piece of cake if you’re in an RV.
If you love camping but have shied away from it because you weren’t sure how to make it plant-based, here are a few tips to help you eat healthy–and eat well!–no matter where you go.
(For those of you who are hesitant to use any packaged products or cook food in aluminum foil, remember that camping is temporary! A box of McDougall soup and a few foil-wrapped potatoes are way healthier than standard camping fare.)
Pack Basic Essentials
Simple food is best for plant-based camping. These staples are all easy to prepare:
- Oatmeal — Bring plain instant oats or fill baggies with rolled oats, nuts and dried fruit. Cook in boiling water and top with banana slices for a hearty breakfast!
- Pancakes — Throw together a dry mix in a container and combine it with water. Stick a pan over the fire, spoon the batter in and ta-daa! Vegan pancakes!
- Canned soups and beans — These simple lunch and dinner staples heat up in a flash–as long as you remember to bring a can opener.
- Instant brown rice — You can find this in boxes or packets at just about any store. Combine it with some beans and veggies to make a quick dinner.
- Vegan hot dogs — Since the packaged varieties are processed and most of them contain oil, these should be considered a treat. However, if you want to have them more often, you can make your own to bring along!
Don’t forget condiments like ketchup, mustard and barbecue sauce along with a few of your favorite spices to add flavor to your meals.
Block out time before your trip to put together foods that can’t be made at you campsite. Bake some potatoes or sweet potatoes and throw together a batch of your favorite bean burgers. Muffins, granola bars, granola and trail mix all make great snacks for hikes and long bike rides. Mason jar salads are an easy way to get your leafy greens, and make sure to blend up your favorite hummus if you’re planning to have sandwiches.
Of course, the best and easiest snacks little or not prep work. Bring your favorite fresh fruits and some baggies of sliced veggies, and you’re good to go whenever the munchies strike.
Gather Your Tools
The list of cooking tools you need when camping as a vegan is surprisingly short, which is nice since you don’t want to be hauling around half the house in the back of your car! All you need to make and enjoy your meals is:
- One or two pots with lids
- A skillet or frying pan
- One large spoon
- A pair of tongs
- Wooden or metal skewers
- Aluminum foil
- Plates and eating utensils
A cooler is also essential on a plant-based camping trip. Stock it with ice and your food will stay fresh–which is more than can be said for most animal products! If you have room, go ahead and pack a small grill that can be set up on a picnic table.
Get Cooking with Fire
Sure, you can cook oatmeal or heat up canned soup, but can you really make an entire plant-based meal with just a campfire? You sure can! Corn on the cob, potatoes and other root vegetables can be roasted right in the coals. Vegetables need to be wrapped in foil, but corn can be cooked in the husk (just leave out the oil) for a tasty side dish.
Burritos can also be rolled up in foil and baked in the campfire. While you’re at it, why not toss a bunch of your favorite veggies in another foil packet and roast those, too? Or pull out the skewers and thread on chunks of veggies and tofu (or tempeh, or seitan). These cook up quick over the fire or on the grill.
Sandwiches make the perfect packed lunch if you’re headed out on a day trip. Go with classic PB&J or layer up hummus and veggies on your favorite whole grain bread. Craving sandwiches for dinner? Use the fire to grill a few paninis–they’ll get deliciously crunchy!
If you want to get really creative, 50Campfires.com has an interesting list of ten recipes for vegan camping. Apparently you can even make pizza over the campfire, though that’s not on their list. (Has anyone tried this?)
For more plant-strong suggestions, check out Engine 2’s post on camping.