Being a vegetarian on the trail isn’t nearly as difficult as you would think.
I had been a vegetarian for 11 years, and I didn’t eat any meat during my thru-hike. Ironically, I started eating meat 6 months after my hike. I thought my body would struggle without enough protein, but I actually continued to build muscle until the end.
Here’s a few things I learned about being a vegetarian and a backpacker:
•Most foods have a little protein. If you read the nutritional information on the food that you buy, you’ll probably see at least a few grams of protein in each serving. When you’re eating over 4000 calories a day, it adds up to a lot of protein.
•Listen to your body. If you’re lacking in a nutrient, you’ll get cravings for food that has that nutrient. I craved eggs pretty regularly, so I figured that I needed more protein. I’d be sure to eat some peanut butter during my next snack break.
•By the end of the trail, the guys look malnourished and the women look like super models. At the beginning of the trail, it seemed like the guys were losing weight a lot quicker than the women were. Not fair. 6 weeks later, all the women had muscular legs, butts, and stomachs while the guys were skinny and struggling to eat enough.
•Pack out fresh fruit. It’s almost impossible to eat enough fruit on the trail. Fruit doesn’t travel well and it’s not very light. However, I liked to pick up a few pieces at the grocery store and have them with dinner and breakfast after a resupply. It was rejuvenating.
•It’s easy to find vegetarian food at resupply points. There’s really not a lot of meat that you can easily pack out. Beyond meat-flavored Pasta Sides and tuna packets, most backpacking food is vegetarian. It’s not necessary to prepare resupply boxes ahead of time unless you want to. You should be able to find food wherever you go.