Technically Vegan Part 1

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.

Given the availability (and if they’re on sale) I’ll always choose organic mint Newman-O’s or Liz Lovely for a real treat.

*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.

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13 Comments

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13 responses to “Technically Vegan Part 1

  1. Hi Samwise, I’ve been enjoying reading your blog. My wife and I have been vegan for a long time and backpack extensively, for the most part in Yosemite National Park where I lived for eight years.
    I may have missed it in your other posts, but what do you think about dehydrating your trail food?

    • Samwise

      Hey Jason! I have not written about dehydrating my own food, and that’s because I haven’t ever done it! When I was planning for my hike in 2009 I wanted to do most of my resupplies from towns along the trail, and not from boxes. So I never really looked into dehydrating food myself. It seems that a lot of the pre-packaged dehydrated hiker food like Mary Jane’s brand could easily be made yourself at home for a lot cheaper. Do you do any dehydrating? I’m definitely going to look into it!

  2. We do a lot of dehydrating. We have found it to be really easy and sorta fun, in a weird way. But, it took a little while to hit the learning curve. Now, we have a pantry with stores of completed meals, partial meals and assorted items. Right now, we have a bunch of pasta portions, a fruit cobbler, vegan mac & cheese, a few marinara sauces, some biscuit mixes and a bunch of bags filled with dices onions, peppers, tomatoes and stuff.
    As you might imagine, dehydrating allows one to take food that is lighter, more compact, more durable, less likely to spoil and can be made as you see fit. Don’t want processed food? Neither do we! So, we make extra portions of our regular homemade dinners and dehydrate the rest. We also dehydrate veggies while they are on sale – or on our market’s Death Row! We dehydrate our surpluses from our garden and from our friend’s gardens.

    Seriously, the food is so much better homemade!

  3. I eat kosher, and that is also a challange while tavelling, especially while backpacking light thank goodness for the fruits and vegetables of the world!

  4. Aw, this was an incredibly nice post. Spending some time and actual effort to create a great article… but what can I say… I put things off a whole lot and never seem to get nearly anything done.

  5. Packing Vegan

    Man. Oreo cookies may be vegan, but they are pure poison! While it does change with brand names, roughly half the grams of fat are saturated and 10% are trans fats. Health wise you would be better off eating a fatty hamburger! Don’t get me wrong, I am vegan myself, so the hamburger isn’t an option, but may as just drink turpentine.
    Sorry brother, but feel I have to bring it up.

    • Samwise

      Fair enough! I totally agree that Oreos are terribly unhealthy… Unfortunately, they were one of the compromises I made for hiking that I don’t do in the real world. I never eat oreos at home!

  6. wakalumi

    wow! such gratitude is winging your way. i am a vegan just starting to plan my first solo ‘walk’ — one week long — and was already wondering if (okay, worrying about whether) i could work out what to pack. the fact that there’s a vegan-specific backpacking blog is incredibly encouraging; the bonus that it’s well-written, helpful, funny, thoughtful … pure [miso] gravy! thanks so much.

    • Samwise

      Thank you so much for the kind words! I’m so happy that you found some inspiration in this blog, that’s my goal! Happy hiking!

  7. Unknown

    Where as I like Newman-O’s more than Oreo’s, the last batch of Newman’s I had gave me terrible stomach trouble. I probably will not get them again anytime soon.

    Had I been out on the trail, that would have been a nightmare…

    Keep up the good work. Fantastic blog!

  8. TJ

    Great job with this site. I appreciate that you’re writing posts that are real. When options are limited, you eat/do what you need to do. I haven’t walked the AT (yet), but I walked the Camino in Spain (as a vegan), and found myself surviving on bread, olives, and chips some days. NOT ideal, and NOT the way I eat at home. Spain is a very carnivorous country, there weren’t many grocery stores, and good luck finding vegetables in a restaurant. If oreos are the best/only option at the time, then oreos it is.

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