Getting the right amount of protein on a vegan diet… a crucial ingredient for adventure-filled lifestyles!
“But where do you get your protein from?”
As a vegan, you hear this all the time. It’s bloody annoying but it’s a good point to raise to ANYONE.
Protein IS that important.
“It’s crucial for building and repairing muscle tissue, making enzymes, hormones and other important bodily chemicals. You need it for your bones, muscles, cartilage, skin and blood.”
In practice outside, it keeps you fuller, stronger and healthier, helping to prevent injuries and recover properly. It’s damn important, whether you’re completely plant-based or a ravenous carni.
This article is all about helping you get enough vegan protein, to keep up with even the most adventurous of lifestyles!
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Protein intake is a hotly debated subject, but it’s widely agreed:
With an active lifestyle, individuals should aim to get roughly 0.75 grams of protein for every kilo of body weight.
That means a 70 kg person is recommended to eat roughly 50 grams of protein each day. Just for an idea, one 400g tin of chickpeas contains roughly 17g of protein.
On outdoor trips, getting the right amount of nutrients is harder and requires some forward planning. But, it’s something you gotta do to take on each day’s mountains, both literally and metaphorically.
Over the years, these are some of the tips we’ve picked up to keep protein-filled, whether it’s on simple day trips and weekend backpacking adventures all the way to our 30-day Ride for the Wild challenge.
Our Tips for Getting More Vegan Protein in the Great Outdoors
All of these tips are outdoor-based but some work well for day-to-day protein too. We’re always picking up new tekkers but if you find anything else really useful, be sure to drop us a comment at the bottom to share it with other readers.
1. Get to know your food
Start by working out how much protein is in the food you’re eating. You don’t need to become a rabid label-checker, but just get a decent idea.
We’ve put together a list of whole food vegan protein sources here which can work great for outdoor trips.
2. Think about meal planning
Once you know some high protein vegan foods, you can incorporate them into your meals. In can be to keep strong at home for your next trip OR actually planning out the meals for your shenanigans outside.
We put together much bigger guides for individual trips for plenty more info:
- Vegan camping food
- Vegan backpacking food
- Vegan hiking food
- Vegan cycle touring food
- Pimping your vegan adventure food
3. The peanut butter jam sandwich is your friend
We are adamant believers that the peanut butter jam sandwich is the ULTIMATE vegan adventure food.
- Tastes good
- Easily found
- Simple to eat and can survive a heavy smashing in your bag
We challenge you to find an outdoor-suited vegan protein munch that ticks more boxes!
Also, if you add some banana, you’re absolutely winning (though this is better for day trips, unless you enjoy brown mush…).
4. Keep high-protein snacks to graze on
Whether it’s in your trail bag, office, car etc. Keep some enjoyable high-protein snacks that are easy to eat close by. We particularly like trail mix, vegan energy balls and protein flapjack.
5. Cut yourself some slack
If you’re working hard or you’re on a multi-day trip, you NEED your protein. Sometimes it’s better to eat unhealthier food and get the protein you need than to go without completely.
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6. Top dishes with nuts and seeds
Nuts and seeds can be easily added to both savoury and sweet dishes for added protein. They’re packed full of nutrients, good fats, carbs and essential amino acids (the building blocks of protein).
7. Include protein in every meal
Think about your daily meals and try to include protein in each of them.
8. And eat the protein in your meal first
If you’re eating a big bowl of varied food, opt to eat the protein first. This is good for at home but also when you’re in the wild.
9. Get creative with your cooking
Experimenting with cooking and recipes can really help you up your protein intake and make eating a really fun process. You can even start dehydrating your own protein snacks!
10. Share the load
Cooking a big nutrious meal can be tough labour if you’re doing it on your own, particularly if you’re living in a tent.
As your food is seriously important, it’s worth splitting the cooking duties so you can put together some better nom. Plus, it’s quite nice cooking up together, putting on some music and nattering about the day’s antics.
11. Get the right cooking gear
For outdoor trips, it’s hard to cook decent food without the right gear. We always think it’s good to go cold for lunch but aim for hot breakfasts and dinners. This is a where a camping stove comes in.
If you’ve got space and want to cook some really pucka grub, go for a Trangia – we love ours. If you’re trying to go much light, go for a mini camping stove with two pots (two gives you lots of cooking flexibility).
12. Protein powders can be a good idea
Vegan protein powders are often the cheapest and easiest ways to get more protein into your diet. And it doesn’t have to just be shakes. You can add them to smoothies, pancakes, porridge and even when making things like energy balls and bakes.
Nowadays, plant based protein powders are easily digested, tasty and often come in recyclable packaging too. Good for getting those grams at home or even to take with you on your adventures, just put some into a ziplock bag.
If you’re looking for vegan-friendly protein powder, we compared a whole bunch.
13. When you get the chance to eat, eat
When you’re on big tough trips, good chances to eat can come few and far between. This means, when you do see a good opportunity to eat lots of plant protein sources, get involved!
This might mean scoffing loads at a local supermarket or treating yourself to some grub at a cafe. Use the opportunity to top up – it might be a while before you get a better chance.
14. Utilise freebie boxes
If you’re staying in campsites, check to see if there’s a freebie box or an unwanted section in the fridge.
Quite often you’ll find long-life dry goods, like cans of pulses or beans, dried pulses, nuts etc. It can be a lifesaver if you’ve run out of supplies.
15. Work out what works well for you (trial runs!)
Particularly for HARD outdoor experiences, you’ve got to know what foods work for you e.g. practical, easily digested and leaving you feeling nice.
Trial runs are a great way of testing this out and finding the best vegan protein for you, then seeing how they can best fit with your trips.
For example, we know that peanut butter or pulses are very reliable, can be easily found, are nicely digestable and high in protein.
Vegan meat alternatives, however, can be very tasty and enjoyable to eat but often bloat us out. Not ideal if we’ve still got to crunch some miles.
16. Plan your trips properly
We’ve already mentioned meal planning, but this one is slightly different.
When covering lots of ground on multiday trips, it’s good to look and see where you can pick up food and resupply. Perhaps you’ll be going past a town with a cafe you could get a good dinner at? Maybe you won’t be going past anything and need to think of dehydrating your own vegan protein options?
17. Embrace those pulses, nuts and grains
Nuts, pulses and grains are all super healthy, have a high protein content, are easily found at good prices and can be quite sustainable. Importantly, there’s a HUGE variety of them.
As they say, variety is the spice of life!
These guys are wicked for jazzing up dishes and varying your mealtimes.
18. Explore vegan meat alternatives
Nowadays, there’s such a huge variety of vegan mock meat products. Though we don’t tend to use them much for actual trips, they can be a cool way of adding protein and variety to your everyday lifestyle.
In honesty, we prefer to make dishes from wholefoods – it’s normally cheaper and more sustainable too – but the vegan meat world is booming and can be enjoyable every now and again.
19. Go for the power porridge
Our last food recommendation has to be our epic protein porridge. We go on about it so much, it definitely deserves an article (coming soon!).
- Oats (7g protein)
- Protein powder – we opt for simple flavours like vanilla, strawberry or banana (15-20g protein)
- Seeds (3g protein)
- Peanut butter (optional) (4g protein)
- Mushed banana (we add this at home)
Any trip, we’ll take a pre-mixed bag of this with us to keep us powering on. It’s epic, tastes amazing, is easy to digest and fills you with everything you need.
Plus, you can add in loads of other things for increased variety.
There we go, a good 19 ideas on how to get more vegan protein for all you adventure freaks. If you’ve got any other cool ways for the wild, drop a comment below to share with all.
Happy adventuring you beautiful plant-powered people!