Going to a meat-eaters barbecue?

As July 4th approaches, many people think about hosting a barbecue at their home or in a local park.  This cultural phenomenon is well-established as a meat-eaters paradise, but meat-eating hosts often struggle with what to provide for the plant-based eaters they may wish to invite.  In fact, there are so many possible veg-friendly options these days that choosing what to buy can be daunting, as they just don’t know which to offer to their plant-based friends.  A veg option that one person loves may not work for others.

A recent survey of 2000 meat-eaters in the UK found that 18% had no idea what to serve a non-meat-eating guest, and that one in four would feel unprepared to host them, while others worry they’d offend their guest by offering an inappropriate option.  Hosts want to cater for all guests, but don’t want to buy the wrong thing, and they feel pressure to provide good alternatives. They may also be unsure of how best to cook plant-based food, and worry about whether they need to clean the barbecue between cooking meat and veg options.

The survey found that 42% of carnivores had invited a vegetarian, vegan or flexitarian guest to a barbecue in the past, and 25% of those admitted that they’d asked the guest to bring their own food.  A third provided meat alternatives which the guests didn’t like, and 22% simply forgot to provide a meat-free option at all.  Some felt the need to research the best alternatives, while others bought loads of options hoping that one or two would be liked.  Fortunately half of them had successfully bought vegetarian or vegan substitutes which their guests enjoyed.

If your host does not know your food preferences, we recommend a phone call to discuss the options you are comfortable with, to help alleviate any stress the host may be feeling, and if necessary, to offer to bring your own food.

The easiest option to suggest is a meat alternative burger such as Beyond Burger or Impossible Burger, which look and taste just like meat.  These hold up well on the grill, and can be cooked in just the same way as meat. These days, the cost is getting closer to the price of ground beef, and this option that will meet the needs of almost all those who prefer a plant-based burger of some kind. If there are some left over, many meat-eaters will discover that they enjoy them too!

There are many other brands of delicious veggie burgers and hot dogs, so you can understand that a host might be overwhelmed with the choice.  If you have a strong preference for a particular brand, it’s a good idea to let your host know, or bring it yourself.

For those who prefer a whole food alternative, a portobello mushroom makes a great substitute burger.  It can be prepared quickly and easily, trimming off the stalk and marinating with balsamic vinegar and garlic for a while before grilling.   If you have a grilling basket, many chopped vegetables such as red peppers, cauliflower florets, zucchini, mushrooms and baby tomatoes can be tossed together in barbecue sauce and roasted on the grill. Veggie kebab skewers are also delicious, and look very appealing, and of course grilled corn cobs are a veg-friendly option that everyone enjoys.

Those who like to cook can enjoy experimenting with different homemade veggie burger recipes.  Just be aware that these burgers are often more crumbly than regular burgers, and may be better cooked on a cookie sheet in the oven rather than on a grill.

Watch Amanda’s Vegan Barbecue Food cooking class, and get the recipes here: Vegan Barbecue Food