Most free-dried foods companies skimp on meat, so you’ll find plenty of vegetarian freeze-dried meals for backpacking. But if you are looking for vegan freeze-dried backpacking meals, you’ll find your options limited.
Almost all veggie backpacking meals have some cheese or milk sauce in them. Why? Because cheese tastes friggin’ good (I’ve been vegan for 18 years and can still admit that cheese is delicious). Without a fatty cheese sauce, most backpacking meals would simply be boring as hell.
Does that Mean Freeze-Dried Vegan Meals Are Boring?
Unfortunately, yes. Most vegan backpacking meals are boring as heck.
You’ll mostly be stuck with risotto or pasta (one of the options in this list is just pasta with plain marinara sauce!).
Some brands compensate by adding lots of spices and herbs to their freeze-dried meals. If you like flavor, then I’d suggest getting Indian-style freeze-dried meals for your trip. These generally are pretty good.
Tips for Improving Vegan Backpacking Meals
In order to feel full and satiated (especially after a long day of hiking), a meal needs to have:
- Protein and
Vegan freeze-dried meals usually have beans as the protein (which will get boring after a few days on the trail). Since cheese sauces are the standard fat in most meals, many vegan options won’t have any fat.
Some solutions to improve vegan backpacking meals:
- Bring a bag of TVP or TSP (textured vegetable protein or textured soy protein). These are shelf stable and rehydrate very quickly. You can add them to pretty much any pasta or rice meal for added protein. Just add a bit more water.
- Carry a bottle of olive oil: This is what many hikers do in order to get more calories. Olive oil has a very high amount of calories per ounce. Squirt a bunch of oil on each meal and it will instantly taste MUCH better.
- And bring LOTS of spices: At high elevations our sense of taste changes (which is one reason airline food tastes so crappy). Compensate for this by bringing a container of salt, herbs, and spices. I find that hot sauce makes any bland meal palatable.
Make Your Own Vegan Freeze-Dried Trail Meals Instead
Freeze-dried backpacking meals are super convenient, but they are also really expensive. I really don’t want to spend $5-$10+ for a single meal (especially when it is just rice, beans, and a few veggies!).
Instead, you can build your own backpacking meals out of freeze-dried ingredients. Basically, you just buy bulk freeze-dried ingredients and put them together in baggies. Read my guide on how to make your own freeze-dried trail meals here.
Or Try Dehydrating Your Own Backpacking Meals
I almost exclusively dehydrate my own meals for backpacking. This does take some time (but not as much as you’d think) and planning. However, it is VERY cheap and I get to choose whatever the heck I want to eat.
In most cases, you can just dehydrate the entire meal. Or you dehydrate a sauce separate from the carb (like sauce for pasta or instant mashed potatoes).
The only major issue with dehydrating meals is that their shelf life isn’t always suitable for long thru-hikes. Most dehydrated meals will last 6+ weeks, but anything oily/fatty will go bad quickly. To increase shelf life to 6+ weeks, you need to keep the oil separate when cooking and then add it when you rehydrate the meal.
Here are some pictures of my Gourmet As Heck dehydrator meals. I’m working on a recipe book now which will be out in April 2019. 🙂
List of Vegan Freeze Dried Backpacking Meals
*I didn’t include any vegan trail breakfasts here because I think they are a complete rip-off. You can easily just buy freeze dried fruits in bulk and pack them with oats + powdered soy milk to make your own trail breakfasts for a fraction of the cost. Here’s where you can find a list of bulk freeze dried ingredients.
Backpacker’s Pantry Vegan Meals
- Three Sisters Stew
- Mexican churros beans and rice
- Chana masala
- Pad thai
- Cuban coconut rice and black beans
- Louisiana red beans and rice
- Spicy thai peanut curry with veggies
- Kathmandu curry
- Spaghetti and tomato sauce
- Mango sticky rice
Backpacker’s Bistro Vegan Meals
Indian Kitchen Foods
Good to Go Vegan Meals:
- Marina with penne
- Herbed mushroom risotto
- Smoked three bean chili
- Kale and white bean stew
- Mexican quinoa bowl
AlpineAire Foods Vegan Meals:
Mary Janes Farm Vegan Meals (all organic)
- Loaded veggie hummus
- Lime-A-Beans and rice
- Coconut chana masala
- Apricot almond couscous
- Organic red bean chili
- Organic savory grains, green kale plus kamut khorasan wheat
- Provisions savory grains: mushroom plus kamut khorasan wheat
- Green lentil soup
- Black bean soup
Let me know if I missed any vegan freeze-dried meals so I can add them to the list!