85 Miles from Lukla to Everest Base Camp and Back… This was with an extended side trip that I did of 6 miles.
8 Days to the Top
3 Days Down
I spent a total of 12 days in the Himalaya Mountains trekking for hours a day and cuddled up with hot water bottles in my sleeping bag for 10-12 hours a night. 0 degree temperatures. No heating.
No guide. No porter. My bag weighed 34 pounds (15.7 kilos) when I flew on the little plane from Kathmandu to Lukla. I am sure by the time I finished it weighed a few pounds less because I had ate all my bars and used up my hand warmers!
The name of the game was slow and steady wins the race. I was NEVER in hurry. Life became simple the moment my flight landed in Lukla. Every day was the same:
Drink 1 liter of electrolyte water
Pack my bag and sleeping bag
Find lunch at a tea house in a village along the way or eat one of my bars
Find shelter for the night in the form of another tea house! Haha!
Unpack my sleeping bag and usually crawl in to warm up for an hour or so
Chat with the other trekkers and cozy up next to a fireplace burning yak shit if we were lucky to have a tea house that had some warmth.
Once that burned out it was straight to bed because the temperatures drastically and rapidly dropped.
Sleep for 10-12 hours and try not to have to pee because I would have to navigate my way through the 0 zero degree weather outside my room with my phone for a flashlight and use a squat toilet (hole in the ground) and then rush back to bed as fast as I could because I was freezing! Hahaha!
This simple routine became my life and were 12 of the best days of my life.
And I did it as a Vegan!
Before I dive into the foods I ate I will make a disclaimer that I tried my BEST to eat vegan the entire time. I asked about eggs, dairy, meat broths, ect every single meal. Vegetarianism is a way of life in Nepal for many. However Veganism I did need to explain sometimes. And EVERYone was very accommodating. I can say I did my best and if there was cross contamination or any residual products (mainly I asked to make sure on the ghee (clarified butter)) I was not aware of it and I still consider my efforts 100%.
I felt SO strong the entire trek. Both mentally and physically. I attribute a lot of it to my diet. It was very simple and yet effective. I didn’t get sick once and had zero GI/stomach issues which is very common for foreigners to get to some extent because of the difference in diet.
So here is what a typical day would look like:
It was that simple. I asked for “Water Porridge”. Plain and simple. When I was trekking it was off season because it was very cold. All the usual toppings would freeze at night so I was left with plain water porridge in the mornings. One day I did get the option for “Cinnamon Porridge” and it was SO good! Porridge was the best option for me because it started my day off with a hearty carb and I loaded it with about 3-4 spoonfuls of sugar to wake me up and get me moving through the morning portion of my trek.
I drank 1/2 cup black coffee the first few days but then didn’t love it so dropped the coffee and stuck with tea. I had Ginger Tea every single morning which consisted of shredded ginger in boiling water. Yup, that simple. And I would put a spoonful of sugar in if I was in the mood.
I was usually FREEZING by the time I stopped for lunch. I was ok while trekking but as soon as I stopped I would get chilled fast. Since there was NEVER heating for lunch, I usually would choose soup and tea to eat. It would warm me right up! Potato Soup (Basically pureed potatoes with some chunks left and salt) was my favorite. I also fell in love with Noodle Soups. Many times I would ask and they would either not have egg in their noodles or if they usually did, they would simply make me some without egg. Like I said before, everything is handmade so it was just as easy for them to make it with and without egg. Usually the cook was an older man who owned the tea house, his wife or their son. The soups were incredible and warmed my body and soul whenever had them. Oh and I would sometimes get just fried potatoes on the side! With the request of just oil and no butter and if I was lucky the ketchup wasn’t frozen and I could dip them! Ha! And I would always get a Ginger Tea on the side. Mmmmmmmmm my favorite on the trek!
The other lunch I would have were protein bars. I carried VEGA Protein Bars and if I wasn’t somewhere near a village to find lunch or simply didn’t want to stop I would munch on one of those until I got to my destination and I would usually order my soup then a few hours before I ate dinner. I had never had these protein bars before but they were decent and did the trick. It was also the only chocolate or sweets I had the whole time I was in Nepal so it was almost like a treat to eat them. Haha! If I did it again, I would bring some Clif Bars along as well.
Dinner was a rotation of about 4 meals.
Dal Bhat is a VERY traditional meal in Nepal. It is a lentil soup with steamed rice. Sometimes I would get veggies with my dal bhat as well. The BEST part about ordering veggie dal bhat is you would get free refills! All you can eat until you finally convinced them you were stuffed! Haha! A high protein and carb meal that I ate for over half my meals. It was delicious as well!
Stir Fried Noodles or Rice
I would ask for extra veggies and no butter or egg in my meal. This was another staple in my diet and sometimes my lunch if I had a big trekking day. The portions are HUGE and I always ate every last morsel of rice. I couldn’t get enough food on this trek!
Momos (aka Dumplings)
I ordered Veggie Momos as a meal or side all.the.time. until it got to the point I couldn’t stand the sight of another Momo. Hahaha! They were SO good and everyone made them just slightly different. Since it was at night I would order them, the sauces had all unthawed by then (yes…this seriously is a thing) and I was able to dip them in a spicy red sauce that was divine.
And this should as no surprise by now … Every night at dinner and then after dinner, I drank yet another Ginger Tea. I swear by its healing, anti-inflammatory and immune system strengthening!!! And ohhhhhh it was so so so cozy and yummy!
Once I arrived back in Kathmandu I headed out to Thamel because I found a Vegan Restaurant called Loving Heart. This is what I ordered:
Coconut Ice Cream has never tasted so good!!!! I met the coolest guys at dinner this night and we got into a long talk about Vegetarianism and Veganism in Nepal and what they noticed.
One other thing I would like to add is that I drank Nuun Electrolyte Tabs every single morning, afternoon and night before bed. I drank at least 3 liters of water a day and 2 of those had Nuun Tabs in them. Another tip I swear by that helped me not get Altitude Sickness at all!
So that is what I ate while trekking to Everest Base Camp as a Vegan! Vegetarianism is worldwide. Veganism is gaining traction and many people actually know about it. If you are willing to kindly ask questions about your food, explain what you need and are being nice about it, I have found people are always more than willing to accommodate dietary needs. It truly isn’t hard to travel and maintain a Vegan Diet. It can seem daunting at first, but I promise that if I can do it for 12 days in the middle of the Himalaya Mountains on a trek to Everest, ANYONE in any country can do the same. :)
If you like what you just read, leave me a comment and let me know or share with your friends.