How to BBQ Right Alongside Your Omnivore Friends This Summer

No one ever seems to want to invite vegans or vegetarians to a barbecue. Last summer whenever the idea got brought up, the most common response I got was, “But what are you even going to eat?” Or, you know, a whole lot of laughter like it was some hilarious joke. But we like BBQs, too! We just do things a bit differently.

Because BBQs are typically centered around meat, most people assume the vegans in attendance will just snack on the carrots and celery sitting on the table. And yes, we will be snacking on the carrots and celery sitting on the table… but we’ll also be grilling just as much as the omnivores. Here’s exactly how to make this next BBQ your best one yet.

1. Grab the Right Tools

When you’re grilling with friends who are eating meat, things can get a little tricky. If you can’t snag a designated portion of the grill for the no-meat gang, keep some aluminum foil handy to ensure your veggie burger doesn’t get any animal product residue on it. By wrapping your burger in foil, you’ll still get those beautiful grill lines without worrying about your food becoming contaminated.

You also might want to make sure there’s a separate spatula or pair of tongs to work with your food on the grill, even if that’s just flipping your burger in aluminum foil. This way, nothing from the meat will transfer onto your foil, which could end up on your plate.

2. Veganize Your Old Favorites

Before going vegan, I’ll be honest: I, too, thought I was done BBQing for ever, which was sad considering it was one of my favorite things to do every year. But I’m happy to report you can have an even better cookout as a vegan, and the food is impossible to beat.

If you want something similar to actual burgers and hot dogs, there are plenty of meat-like options available that cook and taste just like the real thing. My two favorites? The Beyond Burger from Beyond Meat, which actually “bleeds” beet juice, and Smart Dogs from Lightlife, which taste exactly like real hot dogs — minus all the disgustingness. Veggie burgers — pretty much anything from Gardenburger or Dr. Praeger’s — also do great on the grill and won’t crumble apart mid-flip.

3. Get Creative

Instead of store-bought burgers and hot dogs, you can always make your own. Here are some delicious options to get you started:

  • portobello burger
  • black bean burger
  • tofu burger
  • tempeh burger
  • chickpea burger
  • lentil burger
  • sweet potato burger
  • cauliflower burger
  • beet burger
  • cauliflower steaks
  • carrot hot dogs (recipe from Inspiralized pictured above!)

4. Bring On the Veggies

Aside from making burgers and hot dogs out of veggies, grill ’em up on their own, too. A plate of grilled vegetables make the perfect side dish: just cover the grill with aluminum foil after all the burgers and hot dogs are done, then throw on plenty of your favorites. Here are some tasty combos to try out:

  • broccoli + olive oil + garlic + red pepper flakes
  • romaine lettuce head + olive oil + black pepper + lemon
  • zucchini + garlic + lemon + salt and pepper
  • radishes + olive oil + thyme + sea salt
  • brussels sprouts + olive oil + vegan brown sugar
  • mushrooms + balsamic vinegar + soy sauce + garlic + thyme
  • asparagus + garlic + basil pesto + salt and pepper

5. Get Fruity

Don’t let veggies have all the fun! Fruit should shine at BBQs, too. These delicious and healthy combos will be a favorite at every party:

  • pineapple + vegan brown sugar
  • peaches + rosemary + canola oil + balsamic vinegar (recipe from The Framed Table pictured above!)
  • apples + cinnamon
  • watermelon + olive oil + lime + cilantro
  • avocado + olive oil + lime + salt and pepper (recipe from Mississippi Kitchen pictured up top!)
  • grapefruit + vegan brown sugar + cinnamon + nutmeg
  • plums + cinnamon

6. Don’t Forget the Toppings

Besides bringing some vegan buns (a lot of bread you can buy in stores is vegan, but there are still options that use dairy), don’t forget some other tasty toppings, too. A great way to make your meal top-notch is to also bring along some vegan cheese — the slices from CHAO taste pretty real! — and a fancy sauce. Although you’ll always be good-to-go with ketchup, try something new like Sir Kensington’s Vegan Chipotle Mayonnaise. Your friends might even steal it for themselves.

Have any BBQ tips we missed? Leave a comment below — we’d love to hear from you!

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