My name is Linus Cloudbuster (aka Suzie Creamcheese), I am a long distance hiker, and I am vegan….Something I didn’t know was possible has turned into an addiction. I thru hiked the AT northbound 2009 GA-ME, and I am planning the PCT 2010 as you read this.
I discovered this blog when I had finished the trail, looking to contact Samwise because I had heard about him from other hikers. I unfortunately never met Samwise, but I did meet another vegan hiker or two, but they weren’t hiking this year or going southbound. I like Samwise, found little information on the internet and especially on White Blaze. I feel it is important to share my story, so a little background.
I am from Maryland, just finished up my undergrad in the fall of ’08. I had known about the AT for many years, and in 2005 I did a southbound section from Pen-Mar Park to Waynesboro, VA. I was hooked, so my graduation gift to myself was a thru hike. I left on March 29th 2009 at Springer Mountain, and summited Katahdin on Sept 13th, 2009. You can visit my trail blog at http://www.linuscloudbuster.blogspot.com
I almost backed out of my thru hike, because I was so scared of the food situation. I work(ed) at an outfitter, so I had all the gear, it was just my diet that scared me. All that fear was for nothing, never did I feel my diet was hindering my hike or my health. I ate better than most the hikers on the trail, granted I did carry more weight, but it is easy to hike the AT vegan. Anything is possible if you put your mind to it, and more importantly if you believe in it. The same is true for hiking vegan.
Here is my food list:
IMPORTANT– This is what food I carried, everyone is different. The best advice I can give is to not worry about it. Go to the grocery store for a few hours, yes hours and just daydream, ideas will float into your head. It will take a few weeks, but you will have it all worked out on the trail. As Samwise mentioned, I did look past certain things, like refined sugar, but I paid close attention to labels. I would highly recommend cooking and dehydrating as many meals as possible, I am in the process of doing this for the Pacific Crest Trail, but I did not make any of my meals for the AT. I had 3 boxes sent for the entire trail, and most of the time it wasn’t necessary for survival (see town guide), I was just getting gear in and my loved ones sent me some food.
Cereal with powdered soy/coconut milk
Bananas (dried and fresh)
Trader Joes makes “Flattened bananas”
Granola– Watch for honey, a very popular ingredient.
Clif Bars/Pro Bars/Lara Bars
Strawberries in syrup (available in the frozen section usually)
Clif Bars/Pro Bars/Lara Bars
Avocados– I carried 2-3 out of town every chance I had.
Tomatoes– Roma tomatoes lasted longer.
Spinach- Great for any meal, but I would buy a bag of spinach and it would last 2-3 days.
Hummus (I prefer the hydrated kind, but ‘Fantastic’ makes a dehydrated version that I recommend you add some type of spice too.
Tofutti Cream Cheese
Vegan substitutes (Tofurki brand is good)
Zataran Meals (Available almost everywhere)
Goya Bean Meals (cheap and 4 servings)
Instant Potatoes- most flavored is not vegan, so just spice the plain
Refried beans (dried or not)
Thai Sesame Noodle by Knor (Lipton)
Some groceries have tomato sauce in a bag, instead of a jar/can
Salad Dressing- I saw a few hiker friends who loved this for dinner.
Cake Icing (a few brands don’t have dairy)
Almonds– so many different flavors these days
GORP– Good ‘ole Raisins and Peanuts, but get crazy and make your own trail mix.
Primal Strips Vegan Jerky- This stuff rocks, and they are cool people – http://www.primalspiritfoods.com/
Pies- I am talking about Little Debbie or JJ’s (Available at some southern groceries and Dollar Generals), bad for you, but give you those extra calories/fat.
Thai Peanut Sauce
Vegan Bullion cubes
Nutritional Yeast (Savory Yeast Flakes)
Tumeric (natural anti inflammatory)
Red Pepper flakes
Ramps (Allium tricoccum) Great treat; it is a mix of a spring onion and garlic. They have a relatively short growing season; I was able to harvest them until mid May (VA). http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allium_tricoccum
Tea– I didn’t drink caffeine, so I stuck with the Chamomile.
Drink Mixes– So many varieties of drink mixes, these were a great addition to my food bag, and helped me keep hydrated because I would drink more.
Powered Apple Cider– I hate the stuff, because I am a cider snob, but it was great in the south when it was cold.
Hot Chocolate– I didn’t carry this, but I am sure you can find some vegan hot chocolate that would be great for the cold mornings.
Freeze Dried Meals
You have few options, but Mary Jane Farms makes a few vegan meals that are available off their website and some outfitters (REI).
Also, as I mentioned above Fantastic Foods makes a bunch of dehydrated food like hummus, falafel, and Chilli (though the TVP made me extremely gassy).