Have you ever wanted to go on a climbing adventure but been afraid your vegan diet might stop you? Don’t worry-- here are some great tips for climbing on a vegan diet. There are five key nutrients you need to ensure you incorporate into your diet on your excursion, and we'll look at why they’re important, and how best to get them.
Protein is essential for anyone doing anything active, and potentially even more so for vegans. If you’re planning on going on a Himalayan holiday, for example and tackling some of the huge mountains you’ll find there, you’ll definitely need a substantial amount of protein, and the primary source for most people is meat-- something you don't consume.
What should you eat instead?
1. Dark, Leafy Greens: Think things like kale and spinach. These are easy to add to any meal, and are densely packed with protein. The best bit is, you can dry them out and eat them as snacks on your climb!
2. Lentils: These should be your go-to source for protein, as you can incorporate them into a variety of food-types, from burgers to soups. One cup of lentils will contain 18g of protein, making them an incredibly efficient source.
3. Tofu: If you want something similar to meat in terms of texture and use, swap it out for tofu. It’s not necessarily as efficient as the others, but it’s far more versatile.
4. Nuts: All nuts, but especially almonds and cashews (and peanuts, if you’re not allergic) have high amounts of protein, and are great for snacks, rather than being a meal themselves.
5. Hemp Powder: You can add this to smoothies to keep your going during your long climbs, which will ensure you’re consistently topping up your protein content.
Calcium Next on the list of essentials for your climing holiday, is calcium. Once again, most folks' primary source isn’t vegan (rather, it's dairy products). Calcium is vital to climbing. It strengthens your bones, and so for any active vegan, it's a must in order to avoid fractures. Replacement sources include:
1. Dark, Leafy Greens Again!: That’s right-- kale and spinach and other such leafy greens have multiple benefits. These are definitely worth adding in to your diet, as they cover multiple food groups and are incredibly easy to add to a variety of meals.
2. Grains: Foods like brown rice, quinoa, and fortified cereals will contain good amounts of calcium, and are easy to add into a climbing diet as your breakfast and snack items. Just keep an eye on whether the fortified cereals are vegan-friendly.
3. Chickpeas and Soybeans: These go really well with lentils, so try combining them for a calcium and protein rich meal.
Fibre might not seem as important as the above two, but trust that it is. The last thing you want interrupting your holiday is an irregular bowel cycle. Make sure everything is working smoothly by adding via:
1. Flaxseed: Add these to other meals, or mixing them into things like pre-madegranola bars. Flax will help regulate your bowels and make the climb much easier.
2. Chia seed: Again, it is easy to add chia in a similar way to flax, but is especially good when added to more liquid foods. These seeds create a gel-like substance which is great for keeping your digestion regular.
3. Apples: Even dried apple slices can act as a good source of fibrr. Plus, they’ll keep your vitamin C levels up too.
If you’re climbing up freezing cold mountains, you’ll be unlikely to have a lot of skin on show. This will limit your vitamin D intake, something that is already difficult to obtain. Take supplements for it, as it’s really tricky to get this essential vitamin through vegan food alone. Just make sure it’s vitamin D2 rather than D3 you take. D3 isn’t vegan. D2 is less effective, so talk to your doctor about how much to take.
Climbing can be hard work at the best of times, but being vegan need to make it harder. In fact, many of the foods we’ve listed here will be much easier to transport and cook on a climbing holiday than their non-vegan equivalents would be! Practice preparing some nutrient-rich meals well in advance, and you shouldn’t encounter any problems.