In the real world I tend to eat a lot of vegetables and try to avoid eating too many processed foods (I also generally avoid buying from terrible companies like Kraft Foods, owned by Philip Morris). But with my hiker-hunger raging, I ate some foods I don’t normally buy, like delicious Oreo cookies. I jokingly refer to these as “technically” vegan, in my effort not to be one of those junk-food vegans we hear about all too often. This is somewhat of a joke in the vegan world, that something as ubiquitous, processed, and junk-foody as Oreos also just happen to not be made with any dairy or animal products; including other varieties like mint and peanut butter.
Other bloggers have written about vegan Oreos plenty before, and are in agreement that in the U.S. Oreos are in fact vegan. Though unfortunately it seems this is not the case in Europe or other places around the world, though it appears this petition garnered a positive recent response from Kraft Foods UK.
A single package has over 2000 calories and I burned through each one in just a few days. Cookies are an easy form of cheap calories on the trail when you’re burning as many as a thru-hiker. That Oreos are vegan is merely coincidental, as many of my hiker friends ate them as well. It certainly helps that they are available in almost any size grocery store.
From my personal experience with nutrition on a thru-hike, I found that I needed so many calories on a daily basis, paired with the difficulty of carrying and cooking fresh food, that I frequently padded my diet with these sorts of foods. I justified that if I ate more “nutritious” foods for the bulk of my main meals, it was ok to add in from the crappy-but-delicious-and-calorie-dense category. When I was doing well, I tried to have some semblance of vegetables included in my dinners. Though often that was just in the form of the little bits that were in packaged Indian food and rice and bean mixes… oh well.
*A disclaimer: I debated with myself about doing this kind of post that seemingly endorses a single product from a big company. Unfortunately, because of the general reality of the limited food choices along the Appalachian Trail, my intention is to highlight vegan options that are widely available for easy resupply. I encourage you to make your own decisions! And please don’t take this as an argument that it is only possible to thru-hike by eating crappy food, it’s just easier.