For many, barbecues can be the last domain that you venture through as a vegan. Cookouts have been traditionally pretty heavy on the meats, and even vegans may struggle to see them in a different light. However, there should be no doubt in your mind that a vegan barbecue is possible.
As you can imagine, though, there are a couple of things that you will need to know ahead of time.
After all, grilling isn’t exactly like cooking. So, you will have to make a couple of adjustments so that everything can go smoothly.
If you are curious about how to prepare and host a vegan barbecue, here are all the tips and tricks that you should be aware of:
Should You Invite Omnivores to Your Vegan Cookout?
This is a tricky question. As mentioned, barbecues have almost always centered around meat, which means that it can be a rather big adjustment for most omnivores.
All of the food they are typically familiar with will be replaced with vegan versions.
So, it is best only to invite omnivores that tend to be open-minded about veganism or trying new foods.
There is a good chance that hardcore meat lovers or picky eaters may not feel comfortable in such an environment.
Of course, if you want, you can ask omnivores to bring their dishes to supplement what you are providing. This option is entirely up to you.
Check on Other Dietary Requirements
It is essential to keep in mind that your cookout attendees may have other dietary requirements.
This can include special diets or allergies. You are going to need to make a list of these before you plan the menu out.
For instance, some individuals chose to avoid soy for personal or health reasons. If you are planning on using premade burgers, hot dogs, or other items, this is something you need to know.
In this case, you are going to have to make different types of veggie-based fare for these individuals to enjoy.
Mock Meats – Can They Be Grilled?
Speaking of premade vegan food, this is something you will need to check on ahead of time.
These days, there are more options available to you than ever before. There are so many different types of vegan burgers, hot dogs, skewers, and more that you are sure to be spoilt for choice.
Before you get too excited, you should always read the label on the back of these packages. This is because, believe it or not, many of them are not meant to be grilled.
Now, this isn’t the case for all such items. However, it is best to check this before you buy them.
All of them come equipped with cooking instructions and will tell you just how you can make them.
Just because grilling isn’t mentioned doesn’t mean that certain items aren’t an option, though. Still, it is always best to test out grilling these foods before the day of the barbecue, to be on the safe side.
Figure Out Grilling Times for Veggies
The thing about grilling is that it is vital to get it just right. So, the veggies need to be cooked through well and have just a hint of charred bits.
Keep them on for too long, though, and you will end up with burnt and bitter food.
The tricky thing is that most vegetables grill faster than meats. So, you need to keep an eye on them regularly to make sure they get cooked to perfection.
To make things a little more confusing, each vegetable has its own, specific grilling time.
For instance, tomatoes can be grilled within a matter of minutes while bell peppers may take ten minutes or more. If you are putting together veggie skewers, you may need to get a little creative.
First, grill the vegetables that take longer separately – but don’t cook them all the way through.
When they are halfway done, take them off the grill and place them on the same skewers as the veggies that can be grilled quickly. After this, put the whole ensemble on the grill so that they can cook together.
If you are cooking denser foods like potatoes or corn, then you know that they can take some time to cook.
Since it’s no fun to hang around the grill all afternoon, wrap them in foil and place them on the grill. This ensures that they cook all the way through without you worrying about them getting burnt.
Adapting to Plant-Based Grilling
Do you have any experience grilling meat before you became a vegan? If so, you probably remember the days when you could slap a burger, hot dog, or steak on the grill and wait for it to be done.
You could also flip it over without too much of an issue.
Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for a plant-based fare. See, on average veggie burgers, and other foods contain less oil than their meat counterparts.
This is excellent news for your heart and health in general. At the same time, it can make grilling a bit more complicated.
Since meat naturally has more oil, it doesn’t stick to the grill so easily. This is what allows you to take it off without any trouble at all. The same can’t be said for veggie-based foods.
The good news, though, is that there is a solution.
Make sure to coat the grill with oil (olive oil or something similarly healthy) beforehand. This will create a protective layer and prevent the food from sticking. You may want to repeat this step when flipping the food as well.
Practice Grilling Beforehand
It is clear by now that there are a few things to work around when grilling veggie-based foods.
This is true even when you are grilling homemade veggie burgers as there is always a chance that they will fall apart on the grill.
To avoid any unpleasant surprises on the day, test out each item by grilling them beforehand.
This way, you can tell whether or not you will need to tweak the recipe in any way.
Doing a test run is also great for figuring out how long you need to cook the items on the grill before they are done.
Therefore, you can ensure that you will be providing your guests with food that is cooked to perfection.
The flavor is Key – Season Everything
There is no denying that veggies are delicious all on their own. However, you do have to admit that they can be lacking in flavor.
Unfortunately, this can make for a rather lackluster grilled dish, if you aren’t careful. The silver lining, though, is that this can easily be remedied.
It is important to find a variety of rubs and marinades to soak your veggies in. Make sure they are thoroughly coated before you place them on the grill. Therefore, when they are cooked through, they will taste amazing.
You will need to immerse hardier vegetables such as carrots and potatoes in their marinade for longer.
It is only then that they will soak up all of the flavors. Softer vegetables like tomatoes and broccoli only need to be marinated for a couple of minutes.
Beware Borrowed or Public Grills
If you don’t barbecue all that often, there is a good chance that you will borrow one from a friend. Or, you may use one in a public park.
In case this is your solution, it is essential to clean the grill thoroughly. After all, it is quite probable that meat has been cooked on these grills.
So, prior to anything else, make sure to scrape off any food particles or blackened parts that you might see.
This is something you should take great care to do if you are sharing a grill with someone else. Only once it has been cleaned well should you place your own food there.
If you are finding it difficult to clean off meat residue, you may need to come up with a different solution.
Place aluminum foil on the grill and cook the food there. In case you are sharing a grill with someone else, this may be the preferred option.
Think About Your Plastic Footprint
If you have a barbecue in a public place, then you are going to need to stock up on cups, plates, cutlery, and more.
Of course, all these are going to be single-use items. This is why it’s best to steer clear of plastic, or that may be considered harmful to the environment.
Instead, make an effort to find green products for your barbecue. Rather than selecting items that need to be thrown away, look for those that are compostable. Or, try and take things that can be reused.
Sure, it may be a pain, but at least you don’t have to feel guilty about doing any more damage to the planet.
These are all the things to keep in mind if you want to pull off a vegan barbecue. With some creativity and a lot of resolution, there is no reason why you shouldn’t be able to make it absolutely perfect!
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