I’ve been a gluten-free vegan for over two years now. Challenges sometimes occur during trip-planning, when I need to have a food supply that will last a couple days and that won’t make my pack weigh 100 pounds. But now I have the knowledge and want to make other vegans’ lives easier!
Choose grains like quinoa, oats, kasha, and millet, as they are all very lightweight and nutrition packed. Legumes like chickpeas and beans, lentils and soy are also very lightweight and should definitely be incorporated in your diet whether you’re an avid backpacker or not!
For quick hikes or day hikes, packing food is easy compared to 3+ day backpacking trips. Granola bars are probably the best option as for being lightweight and a condensed package of calories. Some of my favorite vegan and gluten free granola/energy bars are Clif bars, Lara bars, Nature’s Path, and True to Nature bars. Clif bars have added minerals and concentrated sources of proteins so they are definitely a better option for meals or heavier bars. Making your own granola bars are inexpensive but do take time and can be challenging to pack the extra calories in them like Clif bars do.
Fresh and dried fruit and fresh vegetables aren’t super heavy and are great to have for snacks. Packing only fruit and vegetables for multi day hikes isn’t the best choice in my opinion because of the weight and the low amount of calories. Most fruit and vegetables are quick sources of energy, which for long strenuous days of hiking isn’t the best option. Trail mix is easy and very accessible to get and to make. I wouldn’t recommend bringing hummus or dips unless they are in a sealed bag and if you don’t mind warm dips for your vegetables. Sandwiches made from gluten-free bread with just plain lettuce, tomatoes, cucumbers, mustard, and mayo are a good choice as are your old pb&j. A more filling, less boring option would be to make chickpea salad which resembles a tuna salad and have it as a sandwich. It’s super easy to make and very filling.
Most hikers adventuring for a couple days will bring camp stoves or burners which run off fuel, wood, tablets, and alcohol and can be picked up at hiking stores from a range of prices as low as $20 to the mid hundreds. Breakfast and lunches are easy while backpacking as a vegan, but suppers can be a little different. Oats are lightweight and inexpensive and provide a lot of energy which is great for breakfast. Oatmeal with raisins and cinnamon and hemp, chia or flax seeds can be prepared before your trip and stored in plastic bags and ready to add hot water to. If your goal is to be lightweight while backpacking this is an amazing option. Lunches can be this meal again or you could do something like brown rice/corn pasta with a little bit of sauce if you don’t mind the liquid weight. Energy bars are good too. Quinoa with rice or beans with a bag of spices can be pre-prepared and use little fuel and is very filling. Mountain Equipment Co-Op and many other hiking stores have pre-made food packs that you can just add water to for an inexpensive and quick meal. Adding any extra sources of protein will rebuild your muscles after a day of hiking and the complex carbohydrates will restore any glycogen and glucose levels for another full day of sweating.
Being vegan and gluten-free can be just as easy to prepare for as a Standard American Diet (SAD). Of course, only bringing trail mix or just oats probably isn’t the most nutritious and will get boring but the options I’ve listed are inexpensive, can be found at grocery stores and hiking stores, can be pre-made at home and stored in plastic bags or containers, and provide carbs, fats, and proteins.