Vegan Kili Update: team / menu / cost / 88-year-old vegan

By Mike Weinberg

Dear Vegan Kilimanjaro Support Group:

Since I began recruiting for the “Vegan Kilimanjaro Plant-Based Nutrition Challenge a week and a half ago, many of you have expressed support and forwarded the challenge to friends and family—thank you!

About 30 potential climbers have requested more details. Many are still considering it; some have written to regretfully say that it’s not going to work for them at this time. But all have wished the team luck. Thank you as well, it’s much appreciated!

1. Mike Weinberg, San Diego CA
2. Adam Brunet, Florida
3. Jason Keller, Southern California

We need just one more person for the 4-person base price of $2495, at which time we’ll lock in the climb dates by booking with Ultimate Kilimanjaro with our 30% deposits (~$800 each). That way we can start monitoring flights to Tanzania and be ready to snap up a good fare when we see it! 🙂

Of course, we’ll continue adding climbers up to the September 20 deposit deadline (and perhaps beyond). While 6-12 climbers is ideal, the guide company has hosted charity climbs for as many as 30. Just imagine 30 intrepid vegans proudly holding a PCRM banner on the summit of Mt. Kilimanjaro, the “Roof of Africa!”

Some potential climbers have expressed concerns about the suitability of the food. I suspect we’ve all been disappointed at one time or another after being assured that “vegan” food would be provided at a function. So I asked Ultimate Kilimanjaro to provide a sample menu, which looks perfectly suitable to me.
* Breakfast: Oat porridge, toast, cassava, baked beans, sweet potatoes, red yam, chapati (flat bread), fried banana, fresh fruits.
* Lunch/dinner: soup (zucchini, leek, carrot, onion, vegetable…), pasta, rice, spaghetti, chips, mashed potatoes, fried potatoes, various vegetable sauces, fresh fruits & vegetables.
* Hot drinks: Tea, coffee.

As I’ve been kind of giving him the “Vegan 3rd-Degree” to ensure we’d have 100% vegan food, the trip consultant, Shawn, wrote: “Although we are planning on serving 100% vegan-friendly foods as agreed, we feel that the group may be a bit disappointed by the basic vegan foods we can provide. We are unable to provide modern-vegan meals and foods that you would find in developed countries.”

As I had in previous emails, I assured him that hearty, whole-food plant-based meals with abundant fruits and vegetables is just what we’ll want and need on the mountain! And we have the option of bringing our own foods as well, which the porters will carry and the cook will prepare upon request. I’ll personally be bringing trail mix and snacks to carry in my daypack. If you want to carry items like powdered vegan creamer for your coffee, no problem! They’re just not likely to have it in Tanzania. which I’m told is a very poor country.

Some have had to decline to join us due to the cost of the guide service. It’s certainly an expensive venture when you add in airfare, etc. But some of the “luxury” guide companies charge nearly twice as much. And while it can be done for up to $1000 less, I had extensive correspondence with a “budget” operator who never convinced me that the cheaper price was possible, despite his assurances, without taking advantage of their porters. And of course, while it’s tempting to save $1000, I and other fair-minded vegans would not want to take advantage of porters and the families that depend on them.

KILI at 88!
An inspiration to us all, Fred Distelhorst, an 88-year-old vegan from Colorado, recently summited Kili with his 22-year-old granddaughter on a charity climb to benefit Kenyan orphans with AIDS. The previously oldest climber was 85. The youngest climber was a 7-year old boy.

Here are links to articles that supporters have sent about this remarkable achievement:

One Green Planet
CBS Denver

Best to all,

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