Food and nutrition are an important part of endurance walking, especially when the walk goes on for thousands of kilometres. I didn’t learn about food growing up, I was bumped up a few classes in school and missed the home economic lessons but when I decided to switch from being vegetarian to vegan I had a lot to learn and quickly.
I started this walk as a vegetarian and over 2 years ago I became a plant based, vegan athlete for my heart, mind and body, the environment and animal welfare. Being vegan is more than about food, it is a lifestyle choice encompassing all choices from animal cruelty free sunscreen to leather free shoes, basically avoiding anything that comes from an animal or has been tested on animals.
At the time I made the switch I was not anywhere near a city so my choices were limited. I found some very good raw organic vegan products an Albany health food store and online which I have been using since.
Counting calories has never been my thing or measuring nutrients but I listen to my body and try to meet as many of it’s needs within the limitations of walking solo without any support vehicles, no refridgeration, in hot conditions for days, sometimes weeks between fresh supplies.
Here are the top 10 products I use while on rations (non-perishable) while walking through the outback.
1 Power Super Foods http://www.powersuperfoods.com.au/
2 Blue Dinosaur Bars http://www.bluedinosaur.com.au/
3 Shotz Electrolytes http://www.shotz1.com/
4 Loving Earth Buckini cereal https://lovingearth.net/
5 Hemp Foods Australia organic seeds http://www.hempfoods.com.au/
7 Vitamin B12
8 Raw Almonds
9 Fresh Fruit Donations
10 Bush Tucker
I start the day with a big breakfast made of organic raw activated buckwheat from Loving Earth, seeds, nuts and dried or powdered fruit from Power Super Foods.
Hemp seeds have the highest plant based protein and is a complete source of omega.The best for a plant based diet.
Vitamin B12 is essential for vegans, I get that in my electrolytes with other minerals and vitamins like salts, magnesium, calcium and Vit C. Shotz electrolytes come in 3 flavours and are the only ones I have found on the market which are palatable in hot water. My water is usually hot because I do not carry a fridge.
Spirulina makes a big difference to my energy and recovery. Edible and palatable leafy greens are the hardest thing to find in the outback so i need to supplement them and spirulina is the gentlest on my stomach of all the supergreens available from health food stores.
Blue Dinosaur Bars are marketed as paleo but they are raw organic bars suitable for vegans. There are 6 delicious flavours, my favourite is mint but I haven’t tried the new lamington bars yet. These are packed full of nutrition and work well as both an energy and recovery bar. I try to ration myself to 1 a day but i often have 2.
Raw nuts are the healthiest. Did you know that roasting a nut, any kind of nut changes the chemistry of the fat from good to bad. Raw is always best. The raw almonds are sweet, full of good things like iron, Vit E, calcium and magnesium. I have about a cup of them for dinner so they can heal my body as I sleep.
Sometimes people will stop beside the road and give me fresh fruit!!! I love this! It doesn’t happen often, maybe a few times a month, but when it does it is great. Except apples, on the Nullarbor crossing i was given so many apples my body can’t digest them properly anymore. Anything other than apples is awesome!
I’ll occasionally forage for wild weeds and bush food. Last year in the Kimberley I was spoilt with boab fruit for breakfast most days. Down south in the rain belt and river country I ate weeds, berries and wild fruit and dandelions from the roadside. I do not eat anything I am not 110% sure of. Foraging can be fun but you need to know what you’re looking at, both the safe and poisonous foods.
Another resource I use is stored energy or body fat. I allow myself to bulk up eating organic non-processed food. It is not fun but I know from experience I lose more than 10kg every 1,000kms while walking with rations. I allow myself to bulk on enough to make it to the end without being underweight. This year is a bit different, I need only 2,200kms of rations and for the last 2,300kms I will be passing towns with supermarkets almost everyday, sometimes a few towns in a day. I will be in fresh food paradise for the home run from Townsville to Canberra!
My food is not exciting but it keeps my nutrition levels high enough to go the distance without too much fatigue. Most nights, after walking at least a marathon, I recovery 100% which is the only sign I need to know I’m getting it right.