A Vegan’s Guide to Camping Cuisine

One of my favorite things about living in New England is the easy access to incredible natural wonders. From the White Mountains to Cape Cod, and from the Berkshires to the Green Mountains, there is an abundance of beautiful places where one can spend time unplugging and connecting with nature.

I didn’t grow up camping, but in my adult life I have grown to love it. My personal favorite places to camp are Mount Desert Campground near Acadia National Park in Maine, and Nickerson Campground on Cape Cod.

Since becoming vegan, I’ve had the distinct pleasure of having some delicious vegan camp cooking experiences. Since camping often includes some physical activities like hiking, kayaking, and more, camping meals need to be hearty and filling.

Here are some of my favorite things to eat on a vegan camping weekend!

Sunset at Mount Desert Campground in Acadia, ME

Breakfast

The most important meal of the day is even more important when you are camping! After long days of activities and long nights of sleeping on the ground, breakfast is key to getting a boost of energy while camping.

Here are some of my favorite things to bring for camping breakfasts.

Protein Bars

I love a good protein bar to start my day. NuGo Dark bars are one of my favorite energy bars out there. These bars have 12 grams of protein, are insanely delicious, and the entire NuGo Dark line is vegan!

No Cow bars are also great for vegans who are looking for a protein punch (20 grams, to be exact), but my favorite thing about No Cow bars is their fiber content. Most varieties have around 16 grams of fiber, which is definitely enough to, um, keep things moving during your camping adventure!

Protein bars aren’t just for breakfast – throw one in your daypack for a nice energy-boosting snack during your hikes and other activities. Don’t want to splurge on store-bought bars? I totally get it – they can get pricey.

Try this recipe for making your own vegan protein bars at home!

Fruit

Munching on fruit is a no-brainer for breakfast – a nice combo of natural sugar, vitamins and minerals, and hydration is everything you need to wake up fast.

I recommend hearty fresh fruits that come in their own “packaging.” For example, bananas and berries don’t travel well, so leave those at home. But apples, clementines, oranges, and grapes can definitely withstand some movement in a backpack.

Dried fruit is also a great snack any time of day – my favorite is dried mangoes! 

Oatmeal

There are a ton of vegan oatmeal options out there, so pick your fave and bring it along on your camping trip. Make sure to pack a camp stove (I have a JetBoil) to heat up your water, add that to your dry oats, and voila – oatmeal to warm you up on a chilly outdoor morning! Bring some fixings too – chia seeds, flax seeds, cranberries, or whatever else you like to add into your oatmeal creation.

A vegan hiker (me!) full of energy!

Lunch & Trail Snacks

The middle of the day is usually when your outdoor adventure is in full swing. Hiking? Kayaking? Mountain biking? No matter what you’re doing, you’ve got to stop for some food at some point to refuel. 

Lunch

My go-to lunch choice is a good, old-fashioned PB&J. Affordable, filling, and easy to make, this lunch choice is a nutritious, nostalgic option that will boost your energy for the rest of the day.

Snacks

For trail snacks, keep it simple! I love to bring along a sampling of nuts (usually hazelnuts and peanuts) for some DIY trail mix. Pack some of your extra fruit from breakfast, and maybe some savory snacks, too. I recommend crispy chickpea snacks or some vegan jerkies for a protein boost.

Gearing up for a delicious dinner at Mount Desert Campground

Dinner

After a long day of hiking, kayaking, and otherwise exploring, you’re tired. And sore. And hungry. Camp dinners need to be energizing and hearty, with enough calories to refuel your body after a day of physical activity. To me, there’s nothing better than building a campfire and sitting back with a big steaming bowl of delicious dinner!

Here are some of my top picks.

Curry

Camping is all about efficiency, and there’s nothing more efficient than a great one-pot curry. Warm yourself up with a cozy and delicious curry that is hearty yet easy to create!

I don’t necessarily have a recipe for camping curry, just some general guidelines.

Adding in some peppers, onions, carrots, and other veggies? Make your life easier by chopping everything at home and bringing it with you, so you don’t have to test your knife skills outside. Saute your veggies in the pot, add in some protein (tempeh, tofu….whatever your heart desires), and mix in some coconut milk and curry paste. Simmer until everything is nice and soft, and serve with some naan or rice.

Voila – you have a tasty, hearty, and cozy curry.

Pasta

Packed with carbs, protein, and pure comfort – pasta is my favorite food on earth. And it’s incredibly easy to make, especially while camping! All you need to bring is a pot, box of dry pasta, a jar of sauce, and of course, some nutritional yeast.

Boil your water on the campfire, add your pasta, drain, and mix in your sauce and nooch combo. Easiest dinner ever! And after a long day of outdoor adventures, making a big batch of my favorite pasta (farfalle or gemelli) is one of my favorite things.

Instant Dinners

No time to cook? Don’t have the energy to cook? No problem!

Bring some instant dinners to make your life easier. Some of my favorites are heat-and-serve curries like Maya Kaimal Everyday Dal (I buy mine at Wegmans) and just-add-hot-water instant noodle bowls like Annie Chun’s (I also buy these at Wegmans).

Instant noodle soup

 

Instant noodle soup can also be helpful when the wildfire risk is high and campfires aren’t allowed. This is what happened in the above photo at Nickerson State Park on Cape Cod.

Dessert

What’s a vacation without some treats? What’s a dinner without some dessert?

To end your long day of trekking or canoeing or snowshoeing, you simply must have some delicious confections before you retire to your tent for a well-earned slumber.

My favorite camping-friendly dessert are Oreos, a true vegan staple! They travel well and they’re yummy – what more could you ask for?

Smores are also a camping classic that can be readily veganized. You can use Trader Joe’s marshmallows (usually only available in summer) or Dandies brand, honey-free graham crackers, and dark chocolate.

I’ve also heard of people creating campfire mug cakes, as well. 

Camping is one of my favorite activities, and I feel lucky to live in New England where there are so many lovely places to spend time in nature.

Enjoy this guide to vegan camping meals! Gear up and stay warm for some upcoming winter camping or start planning your summer adventures!

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