Interview with vegan adventurer Kuntal Joisher

I was lucky enough to snag some last minute interview questions from Kuntal Joisher, who is beginning his ascent of Mount Everest tomorrow! I’ve been so excited about his epic adventure ever since I found out there was a vegan attempting Everest a few months ago, although I was surprised that I hadn’t heard about it sooner.

“Why didn’t I hear about this? Why isn’t everyone excited about this?!?”

Well now I’m sharing with you. And you’re super excited, right??

According to his sponsor CallFire, Inc – whose program FUEL supports Fearless, Unique, Exemplary Leaders – Kuntal will be among the first vegans to reach the highest point on Earth (there are many vegan and vegetarian climbers on the PeakFreaks expedition)!

What are your last preparations as you’re getting ready to leave for Everest?
Kuntal: Mainly putting on some weight, packing my gear, and meeting up with friends and family.

What is your most critical piece of vegan gear for a high altitude climb like Everest?
Kuntal: Summit day boots. This is the most critical piece of gear as it keeps one’s toes safe and prevents frostbite. The boots are made of plastic and have synthetic insulation. These boots can be used in temperatures up to -60C [-76F].

What has your nutritional plan been as you readied yourself for climbing Everest?
Kuntal: Vegetables as diverse variety as possible, followed by fruits, followed by legumes, followed by grains, nuts, seeds. I had almost cut out refined foods entirely from my diet. The major exception would be that when I would go out trekking in the local mountains I would end up eating somewhat unhealthy vegan food, which kind of was OK, since the idea was to get as many calories as possible.

How does being vegan affect your fitness and acclimatization on mountaineering trips?
Kuntal: Being Vegan has worked out great up til now on the mountain. A carbohydrate rich diet comprised mainly of plant based foods is generally recommended for High altitude mountaineering by experts.

What will a typical day look like once you’ve reached Base Camp?
Kuntal: There would be two types of days once we reach Base camp.
1.) The day we are not climbing. These days would be spent lazying around at the base camp, doing laundry, taking showers, catching up on some internet, reading books, seeing movies, or taking hikes to nearby mountains to get some cool pictures.
2.) The days we are climbing. We do alpine starts on most days to make the best of weather and snow conditions, and by this I mean we start really early in the morning, which could be sometimes as early as 2 am. A typical day could easily involve 6-8 hours of climbing in a terrain which is a mix of ice, snow, rock, and sometimes as steep as 80 degrees. Once we complete the climb and reach the campsite, it’s mostly about keeping yourself hydrated and eating food.

Do you have any guilty pleasures as far as vegan snacks go?
Kuntal: Vegan Chocolate, and Vegan deserts. During my visit to LA just before my climb, I ate tons of Vegan deserts and drank quite a few Vegan smoothies!!

What do you hope to do next, after climbing Everest?
Kuntal: Few things on my mind:
1.) IronMan
2.) Seven Summits
3.) North Pole and South Pole

Kuntal on the summit of Island Peak. Photo from his Facebook page

Kuntal on the summit of Island Peak.
Photo from his Facebook page

Best wishes, Kuntal! I know I speak for many, many people when I say that we’re with you all the way on this exciting adventure!

I’ll continue to keep tabs on Kuntal and share updates with you here. You can also follow FUEL on Facebook and Twitter for even more news!

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Until next time, adventure on, vegan friends! <3