It was October 2011 when I flew to Nepal ahead of an adventure of a lifetime, to make the arduous trek to Base Camp Everest with a group of strangers over the course of two weeks…. eeekkk.
Landing into Kathmandu with my bags packed full of the essential kit I had been told to bring, I had added my own stash of vegan food supplies to make sure I had some extras ‘just in case’.
As a well travelled vegan, I have been to many remote places before but none quite as daunting as Mt Everest. I had done my research and I knew that vegan food choices along the way would be limited, and that they would get more limited as the trek progressed.
The staple traditional Nepalese meal is called the Dal-Bhat which consists of rice or grain, vegetable curry, and pickles. The general rule is the further into the trek you get, the less variety of vegetables will included in the meal – but a significant bonus of this dish is that you are normally given second helpings!
We stayed mostly in teahouses, which are like basic B&Bs with even more basic breakfast. Again, the choices at the start of the trek are greater than they get as the days progress. We trekked up to Base Camp over 9 days and then back down in 4 days.
The trek requires a great deal of energy and stamina, as well as a great basic level of fitness. So before the trip, I had been training and getting fit, to ensure I was physically prepared for the journey. The night before we started the journey, the group met for a ‘last proper meal’ in Kathmandu – I remember eating a hearty meal, wondering if this would be my last full meal for the next two weeks!
However, although the journey was challenging, the food was a pleasant surprise. With Dal-Bhat fuelling my Nepalese adventure. Most days for breakfast I had a water based porridge, to which I added my own nuts from my stash to make sure I had some protein and extra energy; we also had toast with peanut butter – although this did end up being plain toast towards the highest part of the journey, so I dipped again into my stash for the jar of marmite I had with me.
Lunch and dinners were always the same, Dal-Bhat. Funny enough, I am not sure if it was simply the physical challenge of the journey and the need for food, or that the Dal-Bhat was always a bit different in spices or vegetables in each Teahouse, or my personal resilliance for being able to eat almost the same food day in and our for a while, but I didn’t get bored of it… well maybe a little, but I ignored those thoughts! Quite frankly, there was little other option. (Although I had also added a small jar of spices into my stash, to jazz up any particularly dull Dal-Bhats!!!!)
Some of the bigger Teahouses we stayed offered chocolates, pizza, fries and other foods for travellers, but I was very aware that even the fries would be cooked with the meat, and I wasn’t willing to take that risk.
I also used my stash supply of the numerous vegan protein bars and nuts, to fuel my journey. Although, I overestimated how many I would work through, as amazingly I still had some left when we landed back in Kathmandu after our epic adventure.
The lessons I learnt from this adventure were amazing, firstly – I climbed BASE CAMP! The girl who was told at school she wasn’t sporty enough (thats for another blog!); that vegans rock and where there is a will, there is a way; Dal-Bhat ROCKS but it always helps to be prepared too!