Mom Goes Camping

18 Vegan Backpacking Meal Ideas

vegan backpacking meal ideas

I’ve been a vegan for about 19 years now (damn, am I really that old?). Aside from at the occasional dinner party, being vegan doesn’t present any problems in my life. On the contrary, the “restrictions” help me choose healthier foods and made me a more adventurous eater.  But, I’ll admit that (before I switched to dehydrating my own meals) finding vegan backpacking food was a big challenge.


Easy Vegan Backpacking Foods

There are actually plenty of vegan backpacking meals you can buy or get in the supermarket.

Here you can get a list of vegan freeze-dried backpacking meals.

As for supermarket foods, you can get things like:

  • Instant rice
  • Instant mashed potatoes
  • Near East brand couscous
  • Many packaged soups
  • Vegetable flavored ramen
  • Oatmeal packets
  • Granola bars
  • Vegan mac and cheese boxes
  • Simply Asia noodle bowls
  • TVP (textured vegetable protein) or TSP (texture soy protein)

vegan couscous meal

vegan mac and cheese for backpacking


The Problem with These Vegan Foods for Backpacking

While I love the fact that these vegan convenience foods exist, they aren’t ideal for backpacking. Almost all of the vegan supermarket meals you’ll find lack protein, healthy fatty acids, and basic nutrients. 

Nutrition matters when you’re vegan, especially when you are trying to fuel your body on a backpacking trip!

The same goes with those vegan freeze-dried meals.  Some of them are just pasta with tomato sauce on them!  At best, you get a few pieces of veggies thrown into the carb.  You are paying a lot for empty carbs. :/


Better Options for Vegan Backpacking Food?

If you want healthier, more interesting vegan meals on your backpacking or camping trips, you have two options.


Option 1: Assemble Your Own Freeze Dried Meals

freeze dried corn

You can buy freeze dried veggies in bulk and combine them with supermarket foods like couscous or pasta.

This works very well for breakfast since you can find all sorts of freeze dried fruits and add them to oatmeal.  For lunch and dinner though, it’s a bit problematic.  There actually aren’t that many different types of freeze dried veggies available.  As for protein, you are pretty much limited to TVP.  Unless you don’t mind eating grains with corn and peas every night, you will get bored quickly.

Read: How to make your own freeze-dried backpacking meals from bulk ingredients


Option 2: Dehydrate Vegan Meals

As mentioned above, I dehydrate my own vegan backpacking meals.  It does take some planning (and a dehydrator), but it’s actually pretty easy.

On a basic level, you can dehydrate things like vegan sausages to add to pasta, couscous, or instant potatoes.

You can even dehydrate entire meals.  Not all meals come out well though.  I’ve never been able to successfully rehydrate pieces of mushroom (when they are blended into a sauce though, mushrooms come out great).

I’ve written an eBook which explains how to dehydrate meals for backpacking and has over 50 recipes.  All the recipes are lightweight, calorie-dense, and friggin’ delicious.  Just add water to rehydrate!

There is also tons of info on meal planning and nutrition for trips.

You can get the book here.  I’ll even give you 50% off because you are vegan. 😀


Below are pictures of what the vegan meals look like dehydrated and packed.

dehydrated vegan backpacking meals

And here’s what 13,700 calories of backpacking food (all vegan) looks like.  It came out to just 6.9lbs.

vegan backpacking food for 3 days

Yes, those are vegan marshmallows you see in the photo. 🙂  Those are the Trader Joe’s brand but I find the Dandies brand is better for Smores.


Vegan Backpacking Meal Ideas

Below are some of the vegan meals I eat while backpacking.  The recipes can be found in the book.


1. Instant Mashed Potatoes with White Bean Gravy

vegan backpacking mashed potatoes and gravy

The gravy is dehydrated and served on top of instant mashed potatoes.


2. Warming Chickpea Tagine

vegan backpacking chickpea dinner

This recipe is perfect for dinner on cold nights camping.  It is loaded with protein and nutrients yet dehydrates down to just 133 calories per ounce.


3. Red Pepper Crackers with Hummus

crackers and hummus vegan backpacking lunch idea

Here’s a great no-cook vegan lunch idea for backpacking. I was amazed at how filling these crackers were, especially when eaten with hummus.  For the crackers you blend up the ingredients (which includes red peppers and seeds) and then dehydrate it.

To rehydrate hummus, you just add hot water and wait a few minutes.  The crackers have 133 calories per ounce.  The hummus is even more lightweight -198 calories per ounce dry weight! That’s perfect for reducing weight from your pack.


4. Minty Pea Dip

vegan pea dip powder

vegan pea dip on bagel for backpacking lunch

Admittedly, I don’t like peas.  However, I do like this pea dip.  It can also be made with horseradish for a kick.

The first picture shows what the dip looks like dehydrated.  Add water and you get a dip which you can spread on bagels, tortillas, or use like pesto on pasta.


5. Beet Cashew Sauce for Pasta

vegan beet backpacking dinner

Just be warned: If you eat a lot of this, the beets will make your pee and poo turn pink.  Don’t want to freak out and think you are bleeding internally while backpacking, haha!


6. Dehydrated Tofu

vegan backpacking ramen with tofu and veggies

A very simple thing you can do for getting protein into your vegan backpacking meals is to dehydrate tofu.  It won’t rehydrate back into its normal softness.  However, it has an awesome chewy texture.  I like to add it to ramen.


7. Apricot Coconut Green Tea Oatmeal

vegan backpacking breakfast

This oatmeal is definitely not boring.  You make it with green tea instead of just water, which should help you wake up for a day of hiking.


8. Blueberry Chia Coconut Oatmeal

vegan blueberry backpacking breakfast

Here’s another delicious vegan backpacking breakfast idea.  Just make sure you don’t eat up all of the dehydrated blueberries. They are hard to resist!


9. Pancakes

vegan pancakes for backpacking

Vegan pancakes while backpacking??!!  Yes, it’s possible.  You just make the pancakes ahead of time, dehydrate them, and then pour warm mylk over them to rehydrate (I use powdered coconut milk).


10.  Orange Quinoa Bars

vegan backpacking energy bar

These DIY vegan energy bars are naturally sweetened with oranges and dates. You can even let them soak in hot water to turn them into a breakfast porridge.  They are great for ultralight backpacking as they weigh in at just 140 calories per ounce dry.


11. Protein Powder Coffee Balls

vegan backpacking energy balls

At 161 calories per ounce, these will fuel you for a day of trekking.  They’ll also wake you the F up.  Add as much or little coffee as you want.


12. Walnut Taco “Meat”

vegan backpacking lunch walnut taco meat

Tortillas are a great vegan backpacking food because they are so calorie dense and don’t go bad quickly.  But what do you put in them?  How about this delicious walnut taco meat!


13. Chickpea Beetroot Salami

vegan salami for backpacking

It took me a while to figure out a vegan salami recipe for backpacking.  I finally got these ones and I’m really happy with them. They are tasty and packed with protein, iron, and nutrients.  You can also crumble them on top of pasta for a hearty vegan backpacking dinner.


14. Broccoli Soup

vegan backpacking soup

Most instant soups aren’t hearty enough for backpacking trips.  That’s not the case with this one! It has lots of veggies in it plus white beans.  The white beans make it creamy and give you lots of protein.


15. Lentil Pepper Stew

lentil stew vegan backpacking dinner

Lentils dehydrate really well: they dry out to be lightweight and tiny, but rehydrate quickly with just hot water (you can even rehydrate with cold water but it takes a bit longer).  This stew can be eaten by itself or serve it on top of couscous or palenta for a very filling vegan backpacking dinner.


16. Barley Walnut Risotto

vegan backpacking risotto

vegan backpacking risotto rehydrated

This vegan recipe packs in 172 calories per ounce when dehydrated.  It’s really filling and definitely tastier than most risotto you’ll eat (especially the boxed kind!). The first image shows it dehydrated.  The second shows it rehydrated.


17. Pumpkin Quinoa Chili

vegan backpacking chili

I don’t actually like chili that much, but this chili is an exception.  It’s really warming and filling.  Plus, the quinoa means it is a complete protein.  Just add water and you’ve got a tasty vegan dinner.  You can also make it based on this vegetarian butternut squash chili recipe, or other chili recipes which don’t have big chunks in them.


18. Eggplant Bean Stew

vegan backpacking dinner eggplant and beans

Eggplant is one of the best foods for dehydrating.  It dries out easily and also rehydrates in just minutes. This recipe has 151 calories dry weight, so is a perfect lightweight vegan backpacking meal idea.


See, you don’t have to eat boring, unhealthy food while backpacking just because you are vegan :D.  I encourage you to try dehydrating your own vegan backpacking meals. 

For advice and recipes, don’t forget to buy my ebook at 50% off.


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vegan backpacking meal ideas

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About the author /

Diane Vukovic grew up camping and backpacking in upstate New York. Now, she takes her own daughters on wilderness adventures so they can connect with nature and learn resiliency. With dozens of trips under her belt, Diane is an expert in minimalist camping, going lightweight, planning, and keeping her kids entertained without screens.

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  1. Michelle

    Thank you so much for this. I’m getting into backpacking and was having a hard time figuring out what to take. I love your recipe ideas. i may not have a dehydrator yet, but this is inspiring me to get one 🙂

    • Diane

      A dehydrator definitely gives you more meal choices and is a lot cheaper than buying meals. Glad you found the recipe ideas useful. Happy backpacking! 🙂

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