A lack of vegetarian options?

by backpackingbongos

Before I start I would like to make it perfectly clear that I am definitely not a sandal wearing, self righteous veggie bore.  Although I do wear sandals, can often be a bit self righteous and am sure that some people may find me boring.  I will even admit to the fact that recently after 20 years of guilt free lacto vegetarianism I ate some fish and really enjoyed it.  I totally believe that everyone should be able choose what food they put in their mouths and buy that food from where they choose.  Actually that is a bit of a lie as I think that having choice also means having some form of responsibility.  In my view you are not being very responsible by going to McDonald’s, but that is me being self righteous!  Where is this going you may ask?  What has this got to do with vegetarian backpacking food?  Probably absolutely nothing, but there is one thing that is often lacking.


Several bloggers including Robin, Martin and Darren have been raving about ‘Look what we found’ food that promises to be as good as homemade.  I got a bit excited as I love my food and am always looking for something a bit different to take on the hills.  That excitement soon turned to disappointment as I realised that they had found quite a lot of meat.  I have counted 13 main dishes in their range but only 2 of them are veggie, this means that I can only choose from 15 % of their range.  In reality I have no real gripes at all as this company has spotted a good niche in the market and filled it.  Companies should be applauded for using locally reared meat.

For me it was just the lack of choice that started my gripe.

You could say that I have made a choice myself and that I should just stop moaning.  You are probably right.  In reality there are only around 6 million veggies and vegans in the UK which is less than 10 % of the population.  But how many of these are the ‘outdoors’ type?  Do all meat eaters eat meat for every single meal?  If you fancy buying a pre packaged backpacking meal what are the meat free options?

For the next post I will see what I can find.


11 Comments to “A lack of vegetarian options?”

  1. You could use some of their sauces poured over pasta as an alternative. 🙂

  2. “6 million veggies and vegans in the UK which is less than 10 % of the population” It is 10% and a lot of business.

    I would tap into that market if I was a food company. I am going to use some of LWWF this week hopefully. Good food on a walk makes a huge difference. Hope you find some good vegetarian meals for your walks.

  3. Nice post James. As a vegetarian myself (I sometimes, very rarely, eat reindeer – a sustainable reared animal from Lapland) I find the choice of food for beggies and vegans very poor.

    Have a read here, btw, if you haven’t yet: http://www.backpackinglight.com/cgi-bin/backpackinglight/quick_healthy_meals_with_an_ultralight_cook_kit.html

  4. Hi James

    I agree the lack of vegetarian / vegan options can be frustrating. However I’ve decided to look at it this way: I’m choosing compassion. And for me that trumps the lack of food options that I often encounter. Usually. 🙂

    Since you have been a vegetarian I hope I can ask you this question as a genuine QUESTION and not an attempt to convert/judge/belittle/etc.

    You mentioned above that you believe everyone should be able to choose their food. I am all for choice as well, however I get stuck when I see people making choices that harm another living being. I feel that I have a moral responsibility to NOT make those types of choices and to speak up when appropriate to do so. I think of it as being the same as if I see my neighbor beating their child and they say to me Hey it’s my choice to raise my child this way. Do I stand by and do nothing and just say Well I choose not to beat my child and they can choose differently. So for people who eat animals it seems to be all about choice, but for people who don’t eat animals it’s about stopping what we see is a horrible wrong.

    So I’m wondering what you think about this – is there another way to look at things that I’m not seeing at the moment?


  5. Hi there Julia

    I do believe that people should be able to choose their own food but internally I have a battle going on as I often feel many people are making the ‘wrong’ choices (not just with food but with whole lifestyles). I dont feel that there is anything wrong with speaking up when you think it is appropriate to do so, you just have to be careful how you do it. I think that there is a great distinction between informing and telling.

    I have no beef (purdon the pun) in letting people know that I find factory farming abhorent and that it is something that should not be allowed to continue in this day and age. A new colleauge at work did not know what the difference was with free range and battery farmed eggs. I let him know and he now buys free range eggs. I would never say ‘dont’ buy……………….

    I worked for years within a vegan cooperative. If you have ever worked for a cooperative you know that you do not do it for the pay. For me it was because of the ethics of the system and the aims of the business. Most of the workers there were veggie with a few being vegan. The vegans believed they had the higher moral ground and boy did they do a lot of ‘telling’ (probably because there was not much point informing to people who already had the facts). I used to think to myself ‘If I was Vegan would I end up like you?’ Their tactics were wrong.

    Thanks for pointing out that I ‘was’ a vegetarian. I had not really thought about it that way! I supose that I am now a pescetarian. But remember that labels are bad!

  6. Robin – really can’t argue with you there…….

    Martin – 10% should really not be sniffed at. And yes I have a big pile of veggie stuff on its way to me. Hopefully will get to eat some of it this weekend out on a backpack.

    Hendrik – cheers for the link but have not yet got round to subscribing to backpackinglight yet. It would not let me in!

  7. James, A friend of mine introduced me to a range of ready made Indian curries that I find a nice change on overnight backpacks. I have tried quite a few of the recipes and find them very good and pretty spicy. They are made by Kohinoor and are heat and eat ready meals in foil pouches. They can be found in Indian shops but are probably available on line. They are mainly vegetarian, containing no additives or preservatives. Usually priced at about £1.50 – £1.75, 300g, boil for 5 mins and add some rice. They have a good shelf life as well, ok for a few months.

  8. Hi Paul, cheers for that will look out for them. Had something very similar for my lunch at work today – chanan masala but by another company. Made in India and really tasty it was too. Very good for those one nighters or for the first night of a longer trip.

  9. Good response to Julia’s question there, James. Being a vegetarian – pesco lacto ovo + the occasional reindeer [Ups, I guess I’m no longer one then =] – and working in the environmental sector, the first thing I learned is to forget about telling people. Actually those people usually don’t tell, they fricking preach and try to make you feel guilty. And that does not work. At all.

    I met many Vegans, and in my opinion they are the most obnoxious folks around, constantly telling other people what they do wrong, this and that and everything and how much superior they are because they’re vegan. I absolutely hate them. Those people are no cent better than the meat eating fraction.

    Educating people in a down-to-earth, friendly and humble way is a lot better than through shock treatments with photos of battery hens, bloody pigs and the like. I wish those folks would learn to understand that, though I doubt it.

    Anyhow, in case you haven’t seen it yet, check out the documentary “We feed the World” which can be viewed via Youtube (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aLwxDWgY8JU) or downloaded via The Pirate Bay.

  10. Being humble is most definately the way the way to go Hendrik, I just wish that more people were. I will have to check out the film.

  11. Yeah, sorry for my rant, but it really gets me going, that topic =)

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