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How to Win at Vegan Camping

June is not only the Great Outdoors Month, but it’s also Camping Month! Whether fully immersed in a remote area, or camping at a regional campground, camping is such a fun way to experience and appreciate nature. And as with everything else, camping is even better when you’re a vegan!

If you’re new to camping as a vegan, know that Crunchy Vegan has your back with some supplies and tricks to make your experience just perfect. So have a look, then go ahead and make everyone around you jealous of your mad camping skills!

Supplies + Provisions (Food) | Camp Cooking | Camp Gear + Personal Items | Resources

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1 | Bring all the Best Supplies + Provisions

Camping Eats | “Pantry” Staples

Depending on your cooking set-up (see below for cooking conveniences and methods), you can either ‘rough it’ with minimal rations, or live like camping royalty. You can adjust your own grocery list to suit your specific accommodations, but the key is to keep in mind the following: convenience, generally; perishables and your ability to maintain temperature (with a cooler, ice, etc.); lightweight foods (particularly if you’re backpacking); the degree to which something is filling/satiating (no wasted calories when camping!); and the ease to which something can be cooked safely (fortunately, without meat or eggs, this isn’t a terrible concern for us vegans, but you still don’t want to bring something you can’t fully cook!).

The following is a list of vegan foods that pack and store relatively well, and can be prepared easily:

  • Oatmeal + cereal
  • Bread/tortillas
  • Fresh fruit/veggies (Ideal fruits: apples, cherries, dates, lemon/lime, avocado, bananas, grapes, oranges; ideal veggies: tomatoes, lettuce, onion, carrots, zucchini, etc.)
  • Trail mix/nuts
  • Chips, crackers, + pretzels
  • S’mores fixin’s! (Vegan chocolate bars, honey-free vegan graham crackers, and Dandies vegan marshmallows)
  • Beans/chickpeas (canned or boxed)
  • Plant-based burgers/sausages/dogs/etc.
  • Coffee + tea
  • Non-dairy milk
  • Non-dairy cheese
  • Protein/granola bars
  • A few gallons of water (1 gallon/person per day is a standard rule of thumb, but this will change depending on your situation and planned activities)
  • The VeganEgg (Winner! This product needs no refrigeration and whips up in a jiffy!)
  • Dips/spreads (e.g., hummus, jelly, peanut butter, etc.)
  • Seasonings
    • Ketchup, mustard, vegan mayo
    • Salt, pepper
    • Spices/nutritional yeast
    • Non-dairy butter/margarine

Cooking Supplies | Basics

Regardless of your camp setup, you’ll probably want to bring along the following tools for cooking:

  • Cutlery (knives, forks, spoons) and serveware (plates, bowls, mugs, and cups). Even while camping, it’s good to avoid “disposables” as much as possible. Bring lightweight, BPA-free plastic items that can be cleaned and reused time and again.
  • Reuseable water bottles
  • Wash bin—for cleaning your reuseable cutlery/serveware and dishes
  • Biodegradable soap ( Bronner’s is great and can be work for a lot of different uses!)
  • Sponge/dishcloth
  • Napkins/towels
  • Skewers for roasting marshmallows (but you could just grab a stick)
  • Spatula, spoon, and tongs
  • Knife and cutting block
  • Electric lighter/matches
  • Pots/pans (fire-proof)
  • Oven mitt/potholder
  • Can opener
  • Trash bags/bins (to be stored at night in a car or in a sealed container, above the ground and away from wildlife)
  • Bottle opener
  • Large tub with sealed lid for food storage
  • Resealable (and watertight!) baggies/tupperware
  • Foil
  • Cooler and ice

Added Cooking Conveniences

  • Coals and lighter fluid/fire starters (hand sanitizer works as lighter fluid in a pinch!)
  • If your campground has bonfires but no grills, check to see if you need a grate to place over your fire for cooking
  • Camp stove/burner (with any fuel required)
  • Portable grill (check to see if you’re campground has grills)
  • French press/portable coffee maker

Check if you’ll have electricity hook-up, because you might be able to bring small electric appliances. Electric hookups sometimes aren’t reliable, though!

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2 | Perfect Your Camping Cooking Methods

Camp Stove

If you’re nervous about cooking over a fire, you can bring a camp stove with burners, which allows you to fry, boil, or saute your foods in standard cookware, just as you would at home.

Charcoal Grill

Many campgrounds have grills in common areas, or you can pack your own small, portable charcoal grill to make cooking easy.

Cooking with Fire

One of the most common ways to cook while camping, and a simple method that really only uses what you have on hand, is to cook over a campfire. If you’re staying at a campground, check to see if the site fire pit has a built in grate (otherwise, you may have to bring your own or else you’ll be left to cook everything with roasting sticks!).

Cooking over a wood fire is similar to a charcoal grill, but the heat is on (so make sure any cooking gear you use can handle the flames)! You can also bring a cast iron, dutch oven to cook stews, soups, and vegetables. A dutch oven will take about as long to cook food as your oven at home  would.

Campfire cooking is also great for roasting marshmallows, or using one of many available campfire cooking pie irons!

Cooking Tips

  • Don’t bring the entire package of food! Measure out any ingredients you’ll be using for specific recipes ahead of time and pack them in resealable baggies.
  • Some foods can be prepared ahead of time, frozen, and kept in a cooler for reheating later.
  • Keep any fuel canisters upright at all times and stored in well-ventilated areas.
  • Cover pots/pans while cooking for faster cook times (saving you fuel), and to keep dirt/insects out.
  • Keep food stored in sealed bins and above ground level.
  • Keep pot/pan handles away from the fire and heat.
  • After cooking, put your cookware back on the fire with hot water while you eat to simplify cleanup. Rinse your supplies in the warm water (not boiling, though—ouch!).

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3 | Channel a Connoisseur of Camping Gear

Essential Camp Gear

Of course, you can’t just show up and be set for a camping trip without bringing supplies. After you’ve camped at least once, this will seem common sense, but for newcomers to the camping world, you’re going to need these items:

  • Firewood (if allowed; you may need to buy firewood from the local camp store. It’s important to use only local wood when burning so as to prevent invasive species spreading in the surrounding native environment)
  • String—from tying your stuff down to creating a clothes line, to everything in between
  • Tarps for under your tent or as a shade canopy
  • Sleeping bag/hammock (optional: sleeping pad, cushion mat, or air mattress). Note, some sleeping bags use down feathers
  • Tent (with poles and stakes)
  • Flashlights and batteries (or a crank flashlight)
  • Lantern (with fuel or batteries)
  • Pillow, or a soft bag to stuff with clothes to use as a pillow
  • Blanket (for extra warmth, doubles as a picnic blanket)
  • Camp chairs
  • Table cloth
  • Candle to repel biting/stinging insects

Clothing

The tricky part about buying camp gear and clothing is making sure it’s vegan-friendly. Non-vegan materials like wool, down, and leather are pretty common in the world of outdoor recreation. So check the materials when you’re buying gear. It’s also helpful to pack for layers, so you can add and remove items to make yourself comfortable. Some items you should bring are:

  • All-weather jacket (season appropriate in terms of weight. To be vegan, don’t purchase anything made with down)
  • Season-appropriate hats and gloves
  • Hiking boots (here are some vegan hiking boot options)
  • Swim suit
  • Sleepwear
  • Flip flops (if you’re staying at a campground with showers, flip flops can take the ick factor out of washing up!)
  • ‘Sacred socks’—an always dry pair of socks that are reserved for use inside your tent only, for sleeping! You’re welcome.
  • Don’t forget a towel!

Personal Items

  • Any prescription medications
  • Sunscreen
  • Insect repellent
  • First-aid kit
  • Toothbrush, toiletries
  • Soap

And Don’t Forget…

  • Pet supplies and food
  • Campsite reservations
  • Camera
  • Maps and local resources
  • Bikes or other amenities

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Resources

Recipes:

Further Reading:

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