Being vegan doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy BBQ season with your friends and family.
Hosting a cruelty-free cookout is just as easy as hosting one with beef burgers. In fact, it is a good chance to open people's eyes as to to how good vegan food is, and how little you really have to sacrifice to have an enjoyable spread of food.
With a wide variety of vegan alternatives available at popular stores, and the huge amount of information and recipes online, including those on this website, of course, you will find a way to veganize any dish you would normally find at a BBQ.
I recently enjoyed a small vegan cookout with my family and friends, and while doing so I took some notes to create a guide to share with you.
So here's my seven step plan for a delicious vegan BBQ.
7-Step Plan for a Delicious Vegan BBQ
Step 1: Busting Out the Grill
Typically the “main course” of a BBQ ends up being full of meat. There are a huge variety of veggie burgers that are amazing on the grill, including but not limited to Boca, Gardien, and my personal favorite, the beyond meat Beast Burger!
There are many cheese substitutes as well that you could put on a burger such as Follow Your Heart or Daiya. You can also get a pack of smart dogs, or the veggie dogs from the new vegan line at Aldi.
Although many of Morningstar’s products are vegetarian but not vegan, one of the few products that are vegan are their meatless BBQ riblets.
There is a wide selection of vegan sausages and meatless chicken from brands like Field Roast, Lightlife, Tofurky, and Gardien.
If you aren’t a fan of vegan meats, you can always come up with something using seitan, falafel, or jackfruit.
Step 2: The Sides
There are endless options for sides at a BBQ. I typically look at Pinterest or flip through a cookbook if I don’t already have a bunch of sides in mind already.
A potato salad dish and/or vegan mac n' cheese are always a safe bet when hosting a vegan cookout for people who would normally eat meat and dairy.
Salads, pasta, veggies, or any kind of appetizers will do. You can buy boxed mac n' cheese that is dairy free from brands like Amy’s, Daiya, or Annie’s.
There are also tons of sides you can buy in the freezer section that are easy to make like riced veggies, sweet potato fries, or mashed cauliflower.
Step 3: The Fruit
Everyone loves fruit, especially in the summer. Make up a platter and let people serve themselves. Fruit is one of those dishes that people keep coming back to snacking on throughout the afternoon/evening. Remember to keep it covered from flies.
When choosing fruit, consider the weather. It’s hot outside and the extra water is much needed. Pineapple, watermelon, and mango are definitely favorites, but strawberries and blueberries are always good picks too (no pun intended).
If you want you can get a little creative and serve something like frozen fruit bars, a fruit pizza, or fondue.
Step 4: The Snacks
Chips, pretzels, veggie straws, crackers, or veggies and hummus are all little snacks people can graze on. If you don’t want to make your own hummus, you can buy it already packaged at the store.
There are tons of other dips that you can make or buy, like Kite Hill chive cream cheese. It’s made with almond milk and it tastes extremely similar to sour cream dip.
Step 5: The Dessert
Although it isn’t necessary to have dessert at a cookout, it’s an excuse to have dessert. Why not take it?
Cookies are always good if you have a lot of people to serve. Again you can find a vegan version of any dessert you can dream of on Pinterest. However sometimes it’s easier to just grab a box of brownie mix that doesn’t contain eggs or milk and mix it with some applesauce and dairy free milk.
Pop that in the oven and forget about it while you cook the actual meal. It’s almost like cooking with a crockpot.
A lot of cake, cookie, and brownie mixes are accidentally vegan, but require milk or eggs to make them. Using dairy free milk and something that replaces an egg — like ¼ cup applesauce or one banana — is a p wht pretty simple to make a good vegan dessert.
You can’t taste the applesauce in it, but it makes the cake really moist. To make it even easier, you can also mix a can of soda with your cake mix and it will bake just the same.
Step 6: The Drinks
Soda is a common feature at a summer BBQ, and to each their own, but pop makes me feel sluggish and bloated. I used some V8 Splash at my last vegan BBQ, although it isn’t the healthiest option so you may want to use natural fruit juices, kombucha, water, or anything else that you like to drink.
If you plan on having booze at your BBQ, make sure to check the ingredients because it might contain dairy milk or isinglass.
Isinglass is a substance obtained from the dried swim bladders of fish. It is a form of collagen used mainly for the clarification or fining of some beer and wine.
Many major brands of wine, beer, and liquor are vegan, however some that are not include Barefoot wine, Baileys Irish Cream, Franzia wine, Red Stripe, Newcastle, and Milk stouts.
You can use the Barnivore vegan booze checker tool to make sure you stay on track.
Step 7: The Condiments and Buns
When you've made your veggie burgers and dogs you need to dress them up and give them a little pizazz.
Don’t forget to get Ketchup, mustard, lettuce, spinach, tomatoes, onions, relish, the lot. Let your friends and family pimp up their veggie dog and make it awesome.
Even though the buns may seem like a no-brainer, they are very easy to forget – so put those on your list now. Make sure you buy buns without milk in them. cheaper breads may use whey powder or other dairy derivatives.
It is common thing for people who rely heavily on meat and dairy in their diet two half seriously joke that vegans can’t eat anything, but the reality is that even when it comes to a cookout, you can go 100% vegan BBQ and have a fantastic afternoon of delicious food.
Veganism has grown massively in popularity over the last few years, and the market is responding by releasing an increasing amount of plant-based alternatives to meat and dairy products.
No longer is it about sacrificing something that you used to enjoy eating, but rather replacing it with an alternative that is far more ethical, and in many cases healthier.
Whether you're hosting a vegan barbecue because you are vegan or just fancy giving it a go, or if you are doing it on behalf of a family member or friend who is vegan, I hope that this guide has giving you some inspiration for writing your shopping list, and some tips on how to prepare for the big day.