There is something special about eating out on the trail. I’m not sure if it’s the beautiful scenery, the peacefulness of being out in the wilderness or the “I’ve earned these calories” feeling, but I just seem to enjoy my meals that much more. My wife and I love to hike and we love to eat. The question we get asked a ton is, “what are some good vegan hiking meals that do not require cooking?”.
First off, why the no cooking stipulation? Well, because while there is an enormous sense of accomplishment that comes with cooking your own meal over an open fire, there is an enormous level of commitment that comes with it.
First, you need to plan the meal out.
Second, you need to bring (which means carry with you) any and all the required cooking pots, pans and utensils that are needed to cook the meal. This also includes any plates or bowls that you’ll need, unless you plan on eating out of the pot you cooked it in.
Call it lazy if you must, but I just find bringing meals that don’t require cooking are easier and end up making my pack lighter. Couple that with the fact that I’d rather be spending my time taking in the scenery rather than fooling with a pot and a fire.
So, what are some good vegan hiking meals that don’t require cooking? To qualify, it needs to be easy to transport, easy to make/put together, taste great and provide solid calories and nutrition. We are going to give you a couple ideas for breakfast, lunch, dinner and throw in a couple of our favorite snacks as a bonus.
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Our Favorite Vegan Hiking Meals
Vegan Breakfast Ideas
Can we start by stating the obvious? If you are day hiking, you should be eating a hot and filling breakfast before the hike. Whether that is at your house, the hotel or a restaurant close by to the trail. You’re not going to be able to beat a tofu scramble, vegan protein pancakes (one of my favorites) or a hot bowl of oatmeal with some coffee.
If you’re looking for vegan options at chain restaurants like Starbucks or Dunkin’ for breakfast, we recommend checking out VeggL.
If you’re multi-day hiking, here are our favorites for breakfast:
Bagels with Peanut Butter
What’s not to love about bagels? Bagels are super easy to pack and will hold their own in a backpack. Our favorite bagels are Dave’s Killer Bread Cinnamon Raisin Bagels. They are absolutely delicious and pack a serious punch of nutrition. Now add peanut butter.
You could pack a jar of peanut butter (peanut butter is an awesomely versatile trail food) and a knife, but we usually go with single serve packs like Justin’s Single Serve Peanut Butter.
Instant Oatmeal packets make for an easy and tasty breakfast. You can use the packet itself as your bowl and just add water. Is the oatmeal better if the water is hot? Sure. Does it have to be hot water? Definitely not.
If have the means to create some hot water for your oatmeal (like a canteen you can boil water in that comes with a foldable spoon), go for it. But, even if you don’t, don’t sleep on how good a couple packets of instant oatmeal can be.
Is granola more boring than the other two breakfast options? Yes, but it’s also the easiest to make because you literally just have to open the bag. Granola is calorically dense and therefore doesn’t take up a lot of space in your pack.
If you’re in a hurry in the morning or just don’t feel like messing with the smallest amount of work as you’re prepping for the day, granola can fill the breakfast calorie need.
Vegan Lunch Ideas
Lunch on the trail usually involves a quick stop when you’ve found a good scenic spot in the late morning/early afternoon. Ideally you’re going to want something that you can just grab and eat. These vegan lunch options while you’re hiking fits the bill.
Peanut Butter and Jelly
In my opinion, Peanut Butter and Jelly is the KING of all trail food. They pack a good amount of calories for the space they take up. They are super easy to make and pack. Once made and packed they require zero effort while you’re on the trail. Last, but not least, they’re frickin’ DELICIOUS.
Maybe I’m biased, but the part of me that loved peanut butter and jelly sandwiches as a child has never left me. I’ll eat peanut butter and jellies on the trail, at my house, for lunch, as a snack… you get the point.
Pro Tip: When you pre-make your sandwiches, put peanut butter on both pieces of bread and then put your jelly in the middle. This will help keep your jelly from poking out the sides of your sandwich if they get a bit squished in your pack.
All Peanut Butter and Jelly Cousins
Maybe PB&Js aren’t your thing. What about peanut butter and banana? Almond Butter, different flavors of jam jellies (Strawberry, Apple). Mix and match any combination of the aforementioned items to find a combo you like or to just change it up a bit.
Hummus and Pretzels
Hummus and pretzels is another low-maintenance high calorie, high protein lunch option. You can pack your own combination of hummus and pretzels or you can go with something pre-packaged. Sabra makes a super convenient pretzel and hummus combo package. If you’re not a pretzel fan, you can substitute pita chips or crackers.
Vegan Dinner Ideas
You’ve been hiking for hours all day and now it’s time to sit down, relax and enjoy the evening. Here is our favorite vegan hiking meals to finish off your day.
Backpacker Country Chana Masala
No cook doesn’t mean your meals can’t be hot. The Chana Masala pre-packaged meal from Backpacker Country is one of our favorite ‘just add boiling water’ meals. There are two servings per package, meaning each pack comes with 860 calories and 28g of protein. If Indian food isn’t your jam, they have a few other vegan options as well. In fact, the Charros Beans & Rice is close second.
OMEALS Vegetarian Chili
Our other favorite for dinner is actually my favorite. OMEALS Vegetarian Chili is a super simple, but really tasty chili that consists of Beans, Tomatoes, Peppers and seasonings. Here’s the coolest part. It comes in a self-heating pouch. You don’t even have to boil water! Open the pouch, put in a heating pouch (comes with the meal), add water and voila, you’ve got a great dinner in just minutes.
While we haven’t tried them personally, there are a couple other companies that make vegan ready-to-eat meals made for hiking. Good to Go and Patagonia. Both seem to have good reviews. We’ll give you updates once we try them.
Finally snacks. Hiking burns a ton of calories – up to 3000 or 4000 a day. Snacking throughout your hike is a great way to replenish calories on the go. Anything that can fit in a pocket and is a good source of calories can make a good hiking snack. Much of snacking just comes down to personal preference. What do you like and what’s going to make you happy. Here’s some of our favorites:
- Blue Diamond Almonds Habanero BBQ – Almonds, or any kind of nut or trail mix, make for a great hiking snack. The Habanero BBQ from Blue Diamond are my personal favorite
- Lenny and Larry Cookie – I’m a huge fan of Lenny and Larry Cookies. What flavor do I recommend? Here is all of them ranked worst to first.
- LaraBar Lemon – Jen’s go-to snack. She likes them because they’re easy to pack and don’t melt. (And they’re really good)
- Bananas – Nature’s portable fruit
While most people (us included) tend to rely on pre-packaged bars and snacks on the trail, don’t sleep on simple fruits and veggies. Most fruit and veggies will last at least for a day or two in your bag and can help you get some fresh nutrition while you hike. Jen is known to pack a bag of carrots as a quick snack. They also end up incorporated into dinners too.
If you are multi-day hiking, make sure to plan out how much food you are going to need. Like we mentioned earlier, you’re likely to burn through three to four thousand calories a day (maybe even more if you’re covering a lot of distance and/or elevation).
Having enough calories, and maybe a little extra just in case, is really important, but taking unnecessary things just means extra weight in your pack for no reason.
No matter what vegan hiking meals you decide to go with, make sure it’s something you enjoy! A food can check every box from portability, nutrition, etc, but at the end of the day if you don’t like it it doesn’t matter how “strategically smart” that meal might be.
In fact, I always like to take something indulgent, like a brownie, as a dessert for the end of the day. It’s a great way to finish the day and gives you something to look forward to. After all, you need those calories, right?
Lastly, make sure to not leave a trace. Pick up your trash and keep it with you until you get a place where you can dispose of it properly. I like to keep a separate ziplock bag just to store trash. Not only does it help keep bears and other wildlife from being overly interested in you, Mother Nature will thank you as well.