How to Grill Right Alongside Your Omnivore Friends This Summer

vegetarian grilling tips

No one ever seems to want to invite vegans or vegetarians to a barbecue. Trust me, I know. Last summer whenever the idea got brought up, the most common response I got was, “But what are you even going to eat?” Well, fun fact: herbivores like BBQs, too. We just do things a bit differently.

Because cookouts are typically centered around meat, most people assume the plant-based folks in attendance will just snack on the veggie platter. And yes, we will—without a doubt. But we’ll also be grilling just as much as the omnivores of the group. Here’s exactly how to BBQ right alongside your friends.

1. Grab the Right Tools

When you’re grilling with friends who are eat meat, things can get a little tricky. If you can’t claim a 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. You’ll still get those beautiful grill lines without worrying about your food mingling with something you don’t want it to.

Also 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. That 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 barbecuing forever, 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 experience when you stick to plants.

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, which actually “bleeds” beet juice, and Lightlife’s Smart Dogs and Beyond Sausages, which taste exactly like real hot dogs and brats, minus the unhealthy fillings.

Veggie burgers—pretty much anything from Hilary’s 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

4. Grab the Skewers

You can also switch things up by grabbing some skewers and pairing a healthy plant protein with veggies and fruit. Try these combos:

  • balsamic tempeh + Brussels sprouts + onions + tomatoes
  • soy ginger tofu + snap peas + mushrooms + onions
  • tofu or tempeh + green peppers + pineapple
  • chipotle bbq tofu+ onions + zucchini + green peppers
  • tofu or tempeh + mushrooms + onions + zucchini
  • teriyaki tofu + onions + red and green peppers + pineapple

5. Bring On the Veggies

Aside from making burgers and hot dogs out of veggies, you can grill ’em up on their own, too. A plate of grilled vegetables makes for the perfect 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

6. Get Fruity

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

  • pineapple + vegan brown sugar
  • peaches + rosemary + canola oil + balsamic vinegar
  • apples + cinnamon
  • watermelon + olive oil + lime + cilantro
  • avocado + olive oil + lime + salt and pepper
  • grapefruit + vegan brown sugar + cinnamon + nutmeg
  • plums + cinnamon

7. Don’t Forget the Toppings

Besides bringing some vegan buns (most bread options are already vegan), don’t forget to try other tasty toppings, too. A great way to make your meal top-notch is to also bring along some vegan cheese—like slices from CHAO and Tofutti—and a fancy sauce. Although you’ll always be good-to-go with ketchup and mustard, try something new like Follow Your Heart’s Chipotle Vegenaise. Your friends might even steal it for themselves.

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