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How to survive a BBQ as a vegan

Come rain or shine, the BBQ must go on, and now with this handy guide you can ensure that you enjoy the event just as much - if not more - with a table packed full of vegan food.

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Attending a meat-eating friend’s BBQ as a vegan can be a bit of a minefield, particularly if you’re new to the vegan scene.

'Go on…just have a sausage…'

'You can eat a bean burger, can’t you?'

'This must be hell for you, eh?'

These are just a few of the phrases you've probably heard at a barbecue if you’re a vegan.

Admittedly, if your diet doesn’t include meat or dairy then it may seem like a BBQ is the last place you’d want to be. However, there's no need to miss out on this summer social staple, as there are actually loads of dishes you – and the non-vegans – can enjoy.

The key to surviving a meaty BBQ is being prepared.

Take your own BBQ

Unless you’re happy for your veggie options to be cooked on the same grill as the meat, this is a must, as it's likely your meat-eating host hasn't realised you'd prefer your own cooking space. If you own a small and portable BBQ then take this with you, along with a spare pair of tongs and a spatula. Alternatively, just pick up a disposable BBQ en-route. If you can, check in with them beforehand and let them know what you’re planning and ask if there’s anything they’d like you to bring along. Your host will probably thank you for it, as will any other veggie guests!

Go armed with plenty of grub

Most BBQs are meat focused, so take plenty of vegan options with you to fill you up, in case there isn’t an array of salad options on offer to pad things out. It’s worth checking the packaging of any burgers or sausages you buy to ensure they are suitable for sizzling.

Here are some great ideas for things to pop on the grill:

  • Veggie and tofu skewers – Stacks of peppers, mushrooms, courgette and whatever piques your fancy, with a dash of seasoning on top.
  • Vegan sausages – Linda McCartney and Tofurky sausages both work well on a BBQ and are readily available.
  • Corn on the cob – Perfect with a bit of salt and olive oil and oh so simple!
  • Tofu parcels – Simply wrap up slices of marinated tofu with caramelised onion, or different veggies, into little tin foil parcels, heat them up on the BBQ and serve - they’ll just melt in your mouth!
corn on the cob

Add some sides

Depending on your friends' tastes, you may get to a BBQ and discover that there isn’t much more on the table than meat, buns and a potato salad. Slim pickings!

Go prepared and take along a salad or accompaniment that you can eat but that you know others will enjoy too - your friends may be pleasantly surprised! Here are some delicious options, perfect for summertime and ideal replacements for traditional BBQ fare. Make your own or if you’re in a hurry look out for off-the-shelf variations in your local supermarket.

  • Potato salad – Easy and fresh, just cook some new potatoes, add spring onions, herbs and a dollop of dairy-free mayo!
  • Tabbouleh – A feast of grains and herbs - you can throw in lentils, pomegranate and really anything you like for this Lebanese-inspired dish. Check out this great recipe from Saveur.
  • Coleslaw – Love it or hate it, slaw is a BBQ staple. Here’s an easy recipe idea from Simple Vegan Blog.
  • Rainbow salad – A simple side, but a favourite – bring together some incredible fresh leaves and vegetables for a traditional summer dish. We love Fully Raw Kristina’s Instagram for colourful and fresh inspiration.

If you’re looking for dips then most off-the shelf hummus pots as well as some guacamoles and salsa are vegan and ideal for grabbing on your way to the event. Of course, you can always make your own too; anything with avocado is bound to go down a treat!

Something sweet

No BBQ is complete without a sweet ending. A colourful fruit salad is the ideal go-to vegan option, especially if your host is providing it. However, if you’re looking to bring something more adventurous to the table then take a look at these summery dessert ideas:

Aquafaba chocolate mousse - In case you don’t know, aquafaba is the juice from a can of chickpeas. Packed full of protein, it can be used in place of egg white. It may sound strange, but it works – and you’d never know the difference. When whipped into stiff peaks, it can be used to make any number of vegan desserts, including meringues and this mousse - which a couple of bars of 90% Ombar would be perfect for!

No-bake cheesecake – Everyone loves the fresh flavours of a cheesecake, here’s a great raw option that looks summery and tastes delicious!

Ice lollies – Super quick and wonderfully refreshing; simply pour your juice and frozen fruit into a mould and pop in the freezer!