As our first featured post on this blog (YAY), we decided it would be a good idea to write about how outdoor recreation and eating plant based are symbiotic. We collaborated and came up with this list of 5 reasons outdoor enthusiasts should go vegan.
Keep in mind that this list has no particular order and is a reflection of what we have discovered with our vegan outdoor lifestyle–your list may be different! Enjoy and let us know how you feel in the comment section!
1. Easier Meal Planning
For us, vegan backcountry cooking is much easier than having to deal with animal based products that need refrigeration and special handling. Especially in the summer, packing products like cheese and deli meet can be a dangerous game. Animal products like these can go bad fast outside of the refrigerator. If you’ve ever had food poisoning in the front country, I’m sure you would want to avoid it…especially in the backcountry! Don’t make food be a stress during your trip.
Vegetables and fruit don’t take too long to prepare and cook (and they also leave easy-to-clean cookware and dishes!). Here are some examples of our common go-to meals that we bring with us outside.
Our dinner meal preparation, whether it be for a day trip or several nights, usually takes place the day before at home. We cut up all the veggies, season them, and store them in a reusable glass/plastic container or resealable bag. This makes for minimal prepping, and easy cooking. Add some rice noodles or couscous and peanut sauce and you’ve created a colorful, filling dinner.
For lunches, we often carry vegetables and hummus, maybe some bread or tortillas, and some nut butter for protein. We will either make hummus and veggie wraps, or nut butter sandwiches, and pair that with an apple or orange. (We prefer apples because you can eat the entire fruit- yes, including the core- and not have to pack the peel the rest of the trip.)
For breakfast we usually eat homemade granola with hemp milk, which doesn’t need refrigeration and can be carried in a small Nalgene or Hydroflask. Once the milk has been consumed, we have another water bottle to help keep us hydrated!
While we change these meals around often, we never have to worry about our food going bad and getting spoiled. Vegetables and fruit do well outside–imagine that!
Check out our recipes page for more detailed backcountry meals here.
2. Better Respect for Nature
Over 100 Billion animals are abused and killed each year for our consumption. How can people “love animals and wildlife” yet partake in their abuse and killing for their enjoyment? Products such as fur-lined coats, leather boots, and down jackets are potentially manufactured in ways that abuse coyotes, rabbits, cows, and geese. Know where and how the equipment and clothing you use is made.
While some companies state that they use ethical methods to harvest animal products, it is our job as mindful consumers to do our own research and be intentional about what companies we support. We hope to start gear reviews soon and share the research we have done regarding these companies and their products.
Humans have a profoundly unique ability compared to all other animals. We have the ability to choose. Imagine this: You walk into the grocery store. Approaching the meat aisle, you poke your head around the corner. You see a female deer, but she doesn’t see you. Your mouth waters. You are so hungry. You begin to stalk your prey, creeping around baguette displays and discounted cans of juice. Must eat. You must eat the deer. You are so hungry. As you lunge to pounce on your prey, she takes off, sprinting around the store. You pursue. You are so hungry! Your eyes never leave her. Soon you will catch her, sink your teeth into her flesh. Your hunger will finally be satisfied. Soon you will feast on her raw flesh!
What? Uhh…not likely, right?
If that had been a cougar or wolf stalking their prey, we would think nothing of it, except to maybe ask why a vegan website is going into such strange detail of a cougar versus deer chase. Humans evolved out of these survival needs to acquire food. Now we pleasantly walk into a grocery store, where packaged food is organized by content, we select our products, exchange them for monetized paper and coin, and someone puts everything into bags for us. We hop in our car, pull out our kombucha or soda, and are on our way home!
Do you see what I mean when I say how unique our ability to choose is?
As plant-based adventurers, we recognize that all nature is equal and that all nature deserves to be respected. When in nature, we feel calm and peaceful knowing that we are helping reduce our footprint via lifestyle and giving all animals and equal chance to live.
3. Environmental Ethics
In outdoor education, we often talk about Leave No Trace principles (LNT). These seven guidelines for how to act while in nature help us reduce our impact on wildlife and vegetation. As outdoor enthusiasts, we always try our best to follow these principles. We see ourselves as guests in someone else’s home, and strive to respect that space.
The most major way we can choose to reduce our impact on the environment is to think consciously about what we consume. Out of all the items we buy, food is by far the one we spend the most time and money on. By choosing to eat a plant-based diet, we choose to eat compassionately. By choosing a plant-based meal, we ultimately minimize our effect on the environment by boycotting destructive agricultural practices.
Animal agriculture is the number 1 producer of CO2 emissions in the United States. By eating plant-based, we recognize the threat of global climate change via these gases. Eating plant-based is one major way we can protest this industry, while helping protect the environment and natural areas.
4. Health Optimization
By putting the best possible fuel into our bodies, we are able to do more outside–go further, climb higher, run faster, hike longer, and heal faster. After going vegan, we both realized a great increase in physical and emotional health. For Riley, as a runner, I noticed my heal times went down rapidly. In fact, after my first marathon in 2016, I was completely recovered in 2 DAYS. I associate this with being vegan.
Health optimization through a plant-based diet is a topic very near to our hearts. Cece will be writing many posts on skin care, weight, emotional health, and fitness which all fall under this umbrella. Look for these posts soon!
5. Cleaner, More Efficient Bodily Functions (Yes, Pooping)
Vegans love talking about poop! And no, it is not gross or scary. It is a part of everyone’s life and is a good indicator of how our bodies operate when digesting food. Many vegan poops are what we call “ghost poops”, which means they require little to no wiping.
Isn’t this every outdoor enthusiasts dream!? With less mess, we feel cleaner when away from the shower and can continue our day as if nothing tragic occurred.
Riley and Cece