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 or Pad Thai 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.
- 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.
Brands like Augason Farms, The Ready Store, and Valley Food Storage sell containers of freeze-dried veggies. Just mix them with foods like instant rice, TVP, and spices and you’ve got the start of a meal.
Or Try Dehydrating Your Own Backpacking Meals
I dehydrate all my backpacking meals. 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 many cases, you can just dehydrate the entire meal. Or you dehydrate a sauce separate from the carb (like sauces for pasta or instant mashed potatoes).
Guess what? I wrote an eBook on how to dehydrate backpacking meals. The book has over 50 recipes and all of the recipes are VEGAN!
The recipes are also lightweight, nutritious, and tasty. 🙂 Plus there’s tons of info on backpacking nutrition and meal planning.
Some of the recipes include:
- Creamy cashew tomato sauce
- Barley walnut risotto
- Pumpkin quinoa chili
- Blueberry chia oatmeal
- Pasta with “buttery” white bean sauce
- Red pepper crackers
- Mashed potatoes with white bean gravy
- Beetroot “salami”
Just because you’re vegan, get 50% off my eBook now. 😀
***Buy it here for 50% off***
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.
**REI gives 10% when you buy 8 or more backpacking meals. See all vegan backpacking meals at REI here.
*This is probably the best choice for healthy & affordable vegan freeze-dried meals. Plus they are organic.
- Organic spicy red bean chili (REI)
- Organic red bean chili (REI)
- Organic savory grains, green kale plus kamut khorasan wheat
- Organic savory grains: mushroom plus kamut khorasan wheat (REI)
- Organic green lentil soup (REI)
- Organic black bean soup (REI)
Backpacker’s Pantry Vegan Meals
*This is one of the most popular brands of vegan backpacking food. They have a good calorie density and are pretty tasty. The sodium content is pretty high though, but that’s why they taste so good. 🙂
- Three Sisters Stew (REI)
- Mexican churros beans and rice (Amazon)
- Chana masala (REI)
- Pad thai (REI)
- Cuban coconut rice and black beans (REI)
- Louisiana red beans and rice (REI)
- Kathmandu curry (REI)
- Spaghetti and tomato sauce (Amazon)
- Mango sticky rice (REI)
Good to Go Vegan Meals:
*These backpacking meals are pricier than most other brands, but are made in the USA (Maine) and use quality ingredients. The sodium levels are high, but still a lot better than most other brands.
The links below are for REI. You can also visit Good To Go’s website here. They have a great filter which lets you see just vegan meals.
- Marina with penne (REI)
- Herbed mushroom risotto (REI)
- Smoked three bean chili (REI)
- Kale and white bean stew (REI)
- Mexican quinoa bowl (REI)
- Bibimbap (REI)
Backpacker’s Bistro Vegan Meals
- Risotto primavera (Amazon)
- Sweet potato hash (Amazon)
- Wild rice and mushroom pilaf (Amazon)
- Mexican rice and beans (Amazon)
Indian Kitchen Foods
- Basmati rice pilaf with veggies (Amazon)
- Vegetarian chili (Amazon)
AlpineAire Foods Vegan Meals:
Mary Janes Farm Vegan Meals (all organic)
*There are actually a lot of calories per bag of food in these, so they aren’t as pricy as it would seem at first glance. They can be made by just pouring boiling water right into the pouch.
- Loaded veggie hummus
- Lime-A-Beans and rice
- Coconut chana masala
- Apricot almond couscous
*Don’t forget that you can get 50% off my VEGAN backpacking recipes ebook. You’ll have the most gourmet, healthy food on the trail. Get it here at the discounted price.
Let me know if I missed any vegan freeze-dried meals so I can add them to the list!