Camping! Eco-Friendly Vegan Camping! With Kids! And Gluten-Free Too! Oh, So Many Ways To Frame This. Part I – Food

August 12th, 2014 - filed under: The Farm » Family

vegan camping roasting hot dogs

Hot dog roasting MASTER.

We did it! We camped, and it was Waits’s first time, and my first time in maybe a decade (seriously), and we didn’t die and we didn’t kill each other and we ate really amazing food and IT WAS SO FUN.

We’re already planning our next trip.

working on car

Working on the car together the morning of the day we left. They were replacing the knock sensor, which as I understand it, is a thing that does things.

So of course, I want to share our adventure here on the blog, but I took about a million and one pictures so I’ve decided to break the camping posts up into parts, with each one highlighting a different aspect. Like today: food.

I packed a lot of it.

packing for camping

Non-cold groceries.

We were car camping, obviously (as opposed to backpacking), so weight wasn’t an issue. For us, as vegans and with me being gluten-free, my main concern was availability. Which is why I wanted to pack everything we would need for the entire duration of our adventure (8 days total, 4 nights camping). And I did!

I packed three wooden wine boxes of unrefrigerated foods. Potatoes and onions and spices (salt, pepper, oregano, garlic powder, curry, and cumin), canned beans and chili, avocados, olive oil, and Braggs. Enough oat milk to last the entire 8 days (a carton per day between cereal, coffee, and Waits’s oat milk sip cup habit). Unopened condiments like salsa, ketchup, mustard, and bbq sauce. Oatmeal and chia seeds, brown rice bread (for me) and hot dog buns (not gluten free). Chocolate, Dandies vegan marshmallows, and vegan graham crackers for s’mores. I know that gluten-free vegan graham crackers do exist, but we weren’t able to find them before we left. We had a hard enough time just finding vegan ones! All of them, especially at the natural foods stores, contain honey. So just a heads up, if you ever get stuck in a s’mores pinch, the Nabisco brand original graham crackers are “accidentally vegan”. I didn’t say they’re healthy, but they are vegan.

vegan camping snack box

I also packed a separate “snack box”, which lived in the back seat, center position, easily accessible from any position in the car. We had a number of long driving stretches and I wanted to make sure we wouldn’t have to keep stopping.

I included a good mix of healthy snacks and tasty treats – everything from homemade raw zucchini chips to cinnamon almonds to roasted chickpeas. Lara Bars and fruit bars and apples and pistachios. Tortilla chips and squeezie pouches and of course – Snapeas. In the name of honesty I should tell you that there was not just the one Costco-sized Snapea bag pictured here, but an entire other giant Snapea bag as well. We’re all three of us a bit obsessed with them and even named our camp in honor of the crispy goodness. #teamsnapea

Here’s what my Subaru looked like, all loaded up:

car packed full camping

Apparently we packed everything we own.

But as far as food-related items, we brought a 2-burner Coleman stove and a wine box full of cooking supplies (floppy cutting board, knives, slotted spoons and tongs, skewers, cast iron skillets, can opener, that kind of stuff).

And for refrigerated food, I packed two 48-quart coolers full of everything I thought we’d want or need. I packed veggie dogs and burgers, tempeh, vegan mayo and butter, hummus and hummus and more hummus, a variety of vegan cheeses, coconut yogurt for breakfasts, broccoli and brussels sprouts and bell peppers, cucumbers and sauerkraut and kalamata olives and I’m sure a bunch of other things I’m forgetting, but you get the idea. Most of the food fit in one cooler, which left the other for cold drinks.

And that, my friends, is how we packed a vegan camping trip!

king sized bed

We left late at night, right around Waits’s bed time. The idea was that we could shave a few hours off the drive while he snoozed in the car seat, which would make for a much easier time the following day. So instead of Santa Barbara to Sequoia in one go, we drove Santa Barbara to Bakersfield and spent the night in a teeny tiny motel there. At least the king bed was cool.

In the morning we all woke up early, excited and ready to start our adventure. I was smart enough to have packed leftover coffee from the day before, so we had perfectly iced coffee to wake up to (pretty nice when it’s already over 80 by the time your rise). Coffee:

coffee with oat milk

And breakfast:

cocnut grove yoghurt

And shenanigans!

excited for camping

On the road bright and early:


The I5 through California’s Central Valley is a strange and surreal place. Olive trees and almond trees and slaughterhouses. Oppressive heat. We listened to 90s music and Waits promptly fell in love with The Smashing Pumpkins. He makes his mama proud!

snack bar road trip

Finally, after much snacking, many pit stops, and a few too many detours, we made it to Sequoia National Park: home of the Giant Sequoia trees, and scene of some of the most breathtaking landscape I’ve ever witnessed.

I really do love California.

General Sherman sequoia

This is General Sherman, the largest living organism on the entire planet. Giant Sequoias are unique in that they don’t grow too terribly tall (as far as redwoods go), but they are FAT. Thick from their roots all the way up to the tippy top. You can see a few veeeeeery small people in this photo, and that might help to give you some sense of how incomprehensibly enormous that tree trunk is.

It is 2300+ years old, and standing underneath it feels a little bit like magic.

sequoia vegan vacation

We spent most of the afternoon exploring the Giant Forest (mostly we were looking for faeries).

vegan family camping sequoia
sequoia vegan camping
carved log sequoia
vegans in sequoia

Sequoia selfie! (we gotta sneak ‘em when we can, haha)

Before we knew it the evening was setting in, and we still had to make camp for the night!

pistachio vegan snack
A hat makes a great cup for pistachio-snacking.

camping mishap
And ooh, there was a tent-erecting incident . . .


But finally, we were up and running! I know I mentioned a few weeks back that I started a hashtag:


The idea is that vegan kids are normal, and get to have the same fun and fantastic childhood as any other kid. Be it roasting hot dogs over a campfire, or digging into a big chocolate birthday cake, vegan kiddos are not deprived. And we have the photos to prove it! I urge you to browse the hashtag up there (now with over 50 entries, and counting) and enjoy all that massive cuteness and inspiration it provides.

And if you have a wee vegan in your life, please share pics and use the hashtag! Also keep in mind that you can go back and hashtag old pics, and remember that if your privacy settings are restricted we may not be able to see your pics.

Yay! Viva #vkidsdoittoo!!!

vegan hot dogs camping

Dinner prep.

vegan camping hot dogs
Dinner! This was Jeremy’s plate with glutinous buns. Two chili dogs topped with cheese, green onions, and sauerkraut, plus a regular old ketchup + mustard dog.

By the time we finished eating, it was dark. And by the time we got everything cleaned up and packed up safely in the bear box, it was bedtime for the baby boy. Luckily after the day we’d had, he was asleep in record time. Which left Jeremy and I to relax around the campfire together.

vegan car camping camp fire

Another first for us. ♥


Coming soon, more Sequoia, natural eco-friendly vegan camping essentials, Yosemite, and more!

  • veganinbrighton

    What a fantastic trip! I’m a little jealous of your California camping spot, camp fires are almost never allowed on European campsites which totally sucks. I just went car camping last week and I’m glad to see that other people take a tonne of food with them, we had a food tote in the backseat too which is such a great idea as you don’t need to keep pulling over to buy snacks.

  • Monika {windycityvegan}

    I couldn’t stop laughing when I saw how much food you packed, because I do the same thing! I pack up my entire kitchen and then some. My favorite snack to make is little pots of yogurt studded with frozen chunks of fruit – it keeps the yogurt cold and tastes wonderful. We love camping so much that we have a permanent camping bin pre-packed, with things like a teensy cast iron skillet, skewers, metal plates/cups/silverware, tablecloths, and a zillion other things I’m forgetting. Basically, it’s my outdoor kitchen bin, ha. I love how magical camping is for Nina – not only does she want to explore from sunup to sundown, but she gets to try new things. The first time she tried chia? On a camping trip. The first time she roasted Dandies (and xgfx dogs and Brussels sprouts and anything that would fit on a skewer)? On a camping trip.

    Looking forward to your next camping post!

  • JC Carter

    I love this. It seems like a small thing, but there is so much good info here, and it’s so fun! Glad you had a good time.

  • stephie137

    Wow, such a great trip! Love the snapeas, trees and kid stuff especially!

  • Courtney Bliss

    Seeing how much you packed makes me feel better. This past weekend I went camping and I always feel like I pack too much stuff just for me. But I’d rather have too much food and options than not enough. I just wish my hubby liked camping so we could do a trip like that!

    Oh, and your pic of General Sherman? Amazing! It looks like a postcard or a painting. Amazing!

  • Emily

    Curious- what type of vegan hot dogs do you guys use?! I love Field Roast soo much.

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Oh wow, I didn’t realize you couldn’t have camp fires over there. But . . . HOW DO YOU S’MORE??? =D

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Such cute pictures of Ni! That’s awesome she’s been going since she was so wee. And amen on the packing everything! Granted, this did last us a whole 8 days, but still, one can never be too prepared. ;-)

    Aren’t cast iron skillets just the best for camping? We took all 4 of ours and used them all! And we are totally putting together a permanent camping bin. We do plan to do a lot more of this . . .

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Glad you found it helpful JC!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Thanks lady!

  • Sayward Rebhal

    Do you camp by yourself Courtney? Jeremy’s roommate does that and I imagine it would be so serene . . . but honestly also really scary for me. Do you not get scared?

  • Sayward Rebhal

    I’ve heard Field Roast are the BEST and I’m so jealous of the gluten-y people who can eat them! Since I’m gluten-free we tried both Light Life and Tofu Pups, and all three of us much preferred the Light Life ones.

    A reader also just alerted me to the existence of these bad boys, which I’m now dying to try:

  • Courtney Bliss

    I can’t afford to go camping by myself. :(
    Every semester we have Silent Weekend. From when we arrive until the “Voices Back” meeting on Sunday morning, we use nothing but ASL, gestures, and written English to communicate. It’s sooooo much fun! ASL+Camping=AWESOME! Aside from the noisy hearing people around us, it’s actually quite serene. :D

  • Deirdre

    So MUCH fun and magic! And thank you for directing me to vegan marshmallows. Despite an extensive google search, I didn’t turn up with these. (We just roast bananas…kinda, sorta the same thing.) Cheers!

  • veganinbrighton

    Yeah, there are a few places that allow it but not many. We still s’more though, it’s okay!! We just have to make gas stove s’mores instead!

  • Angie

    Looks like an absolute blast! Camping is my favorite.

  • saniel
    And make your own vegan marshmallows
    Hope this helps!

  • saniel

    We like lite life too but when we want ease up on the soy products I make roasted eggplant or carrot dogs. Super Yum!
    Has great recipe for portabella pups I want to try.

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